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For facilitators here is a model that really helps both to understand what’s happening and to diagnose what’s going wrong.

For me this model is the proverbial bees knees. The model relates the use of Structure (agenda, timing, topics) with Affect, or emotional tone. From a meta-analysis of 300 studies on the effectiveness of leaders in groups, Irvin Yalom discovered that leaders that were high in both Affect and Structure were preferred by groups and generated strong positive results.

Facilitating in the style of the other three quadrants leads to problems:

  1. Top right, too much Affect too little Structure – warm fuzzy feelings but few concrete results. Tree-Huggers territory.
  2. Bottom Left: too much Structure, too little Affect: much list making and busy-ness but little passion or excitement – most of modern business is like this!
  3. Bottom Right: too little Structure, too little Affect: lots of boredom and in-fighting, cruising for novelty and wandering attention

As a facilitator, whenever you get results 1-3 this model sugggest what you need to do, not in terms of activities – but how to adjust your facilitation towards more or less structure or feeling.

Here is a decent downloadable pdf:



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As a psychologist, psychotherapist and research practitioner of 40 years, I've had the benefit of the experiences of more than 100,000 people around the world. They've talked about their daily lives, hopes, fears, ambitions and needs. These experiences have helped me to contribute to innovations from Beds in Business and the Fast Track for airlines to television drama and online communities. Specialties:Large groups, facilitation, application of psychological theories to commercial issues