Organizational Consultation XXII: Empowerment (Part Two)
Flip charts and newsprint hold the advantage of being more portable than a computer screen. Furthermore, one can pull a completed page of newsprint off the pad and post it on the wall for future reference during the meeting, whereas with a computer (or even the projection of a computer screen on a large TV monitor), one can only keep one page of minutes visible at any one time. Conversely, the computer and projection of the computer screen holds the advantage of being less obtrusive, unless the lights in the room must be turned down for the group members to see the words on the screen. Furthermore, one can write more rapidly on a computer than on a flip chart. The latter requires large printing. Two other major advantages specifically apply to the computer. First, the minutes or meeting notes can be automatically made available by e-mail, web board or printed document, since this information is stored on the computer. Second, powerful graphics and organizing programs (often connected to power point) are now available to make the note-taking process easier and more visually compelling.
Public wall minutes are particularly appropriate in a decision-making or problem- solving group. By dividing the group leadership task into two or three roles, as Joan North has suggested, a group frees one leader to perform the extremely important task of recording a group’s decisions. Even without the use of public minutes, a group should consider the recording function to be a form of leadership. This role is important. Hence, it should not be arbitrarily assigned to an unwilling group member.
Conflict-Management and Leadership
The key concept in all forms of appreciative group facilitation is freeing the communication of group members. As a group leader, one should attempt to increase the autonomy of all group members and increase their sense of equality. One does this as a leader by encouraging group members to increase their understanding of the ideas of other group members and to share this understanding with these group members. To accomplish this, an appreciative group leader should make extensive use of paraphrase and encourage active attentive listening, which involves responsive listening, not just silence. In addition, the appreciative leader will seek out information to help her better understand other members of the group. She will primarily ask questions that are directly relevant to what the other person has said, rather then asking many questions that introduce new topics. The appreciative leader should also show her desire to relate to and understand other group members by checking out her own perception of the thoughts and feelings of these members and by showing acceptance of these feelings.
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