Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making

Third Edition

Meetings should be much more than merely an occasion for solving a problem. Every meeting is also an opportunity to build the capacity of the group. This book guides readers through the struggle and the satisfaction of creating effective group decision-making. 

432 pages. ©2014.
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Reader Reviews for this Book

heybalestoo

Review posted February 1, 2017

4

I would describe this as a reference guide to facilitating. If you aren't a trained facilitator, reading through this book gives you insights into the "tricks of the trade" of facilitating. I would think it would be most useful to someone with some facilitating training who is looking for a guide or reminder of tools.

mandy.stanley

Review posted December 28, 2016

5

wonderful resource! Full of stratigies

woodwardchad

Review posted September 14, 2016

5

How best to describe this book?.... A wonderful tool that should be in every facilitator's toolbox! While full of great information, I think what sets this book apart is how the information is organized and presented. A great mix of charts, tables and lists that make for easy reference points on topics and invite the reader to revisit them time and again. As I stated earlier, this is a tool that you will reach for and use when you are preparing for your next meeting and need some help or ideas.

Joan

Review posted August 6, 2016

4

Very practical hands on book for running and facilitating meetings

apmullock

Review posted July 19, 2016

4

This is an excellent resource to support the development of facilitation skills. The 4 core values and functions of a facilitator outlined in this book clearly describe the role of the facilitator and the skills described in the subsequent chapters provide the reader with tangible strategies to fulfill those functions.

richard.f.seymour

Review posted May 13, 2016

4

I used to work a lot with consensus based organizations, and read this book to refresh my skills as I head back into this territory. The book presents a simple and accessible framework for understanding how decision making works in groups, drills down into the theory behind this framework, and provides a number of tools that a facilitator can use. Furthermore, the book outlines when it's important to attempt to reach full unanimity and when that approach can be overkill. I expect to be referring to this book many times in the future.

ShellySass

Review posted April 23, 2016

4

This is a very helpful book to have on hand for reviewing when you are leading a group through a difficult or complex discussion. Even with how familiar we've become with the concept of facilitation, the vast majority of meetings I am in are still not very inclusive, or ultimately productive. This is a good resource for improving that.

Browncoat

Review posted April 3, 2016

5

This is the book. This book gets everyone around the table for a purpose.

[email protected]

Review posted March 21, 2016

5

Easy to understand and practical applications make this a great book for anyone tasked with running a meeting or working with a group to make decisions. The section on classic facilitator challenges provides real examples of how to deal with common situations that can quickly derail a meeting. On take away- don't fight human nature, understand human nature and make it work for you.

[email protected]

Review posted February 22, 2016

5

This book is a tremendous tool for meeting facilitators, but also a trove of information for crafting meeting agendas that are engaging, useful and reflective of adult learning styles. It's really a go-to resource. After checking it out of the library many times, I was very happy to see it offered as an option from Select Books so I could have my very own copy. Many thanks for this service!

mrmars

Review posted February 9, 2016

4

A basic tool that should be in everyone's toolchest! Some of the techniques are basic, familiar, and intuitive. Others are well thought out. Others seem less than useful for adults. The theory behind them all is sound. If you are a consultant, facilitator, board chair, or have to lead/facilitate groups this is a basic text. If you can't reach decisions, or wonder why your decisions or goals fail, this is for you too!

Saramiller

Review posted January 14, 2016

4

As a trained and experienced facilitator, the book provided me with a practical and useful review of principles, practices and tools. It could be useful for working with your own organization and collaborative projects as well as with outside groups. Could be used as an introduction to Participatory Decision-Making and as a reference book.

Sutkus

Review posted December 20, 2015

5

I came at this book from a very specific perspective - as a board member of an established nonprofit of thirty plus years with a membership of almost 200 but no staff whatsoever. We are a Master Gardener Association doing a great variety of work in the community. But lacking an executive director we lack the major corrective and evaluator that a board normally has. I found very enticing the claim “Facilitation was an informal, flexible alternative to the constricting format of parliamentary procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order.” I would have loved to hear more about replacing Robert’s with something better. But I could glean from this book perhaps the key points in a replacement for Robert’s: - Full participation. - Mutual understanding. One simple strategy recommendation for achieving mutual understanding was in itself worth the price of this book - that opponents in an argument express their opponent’s position to the point where the opponent is satisfied with that expression of her/his position. - Collaboration, i.e. cooperation toward inclusive solutions rather than competition toward win-lose votes. - Clarity in making a decision. These four rules might be all we need in place of Robert’s. Any direction anyone might give us on this? There were many helpful points, most a reminder of what I should have been remembering in the first place: - the importance of paraphrasing, legitimizing, summarizing. - there are many participation formats in addition to open discussion. - identify all the needs, agree on the problem before coming to grips with solutions. - distinguish between facts and opinions But for me the most useful and important advice was to be clear about the purpose or goal for each item on the agenda. This was something I had not thought about. All in all, even with my limited perspective, this book was quite valuable, especially given how easy and quick it was to read. And it totally reinforced the case that group wisdom is so much more powerful than individual wisdom that the work to achieve it is well worth the effort.

CharliPowers

Review posted November 28, 2015

4

This is a wonderful book to use for group sessions on learning "how" to become more effective as a group and as individuals. I can see myself using this with my students as well as with my staff and other co-workers. This is a book to be referred to and to be kept on hand during all meetings.

teacher77

Review posted November 13, 2015

4

This book was informative and gave lot of practical hands on examples

Sandy Braden

Review posted November 3, 2015

4

This book provided great tools to aid in facilitating and can be used in other settings when decision-making is needed.

cmoan

Review posted October 29, 2015

4

It has a lot of practical advice and great tools that I can utilize as a supervisor with my team. I appreciate the way it helps to foster new learning and concepts in myself, in addition to giving me tools I can share and teach others.

LesleyDL

Review posted October 27, 2015

4

I found this book very helpful and a good refresher for facilitation. I particularly liked the section on the fundamentals. Always good to go over the basics from time to time.

erinteresa

Review posted September 29, 2015

4

This book has a lot of helpful information for community organizers and groups. The only reason it dropped a star is because some of the information is repetitive.

Margaret Tomlinson

Review posted September 22, 2015

2

This is essentially a textbook for professional "facilitators," consultants who work with groups to help them make decisions in a way that is supposed to make everyone in the group feel included. Much of the material presented is simplistic and repetitive, which made me want to skim. However, the book also includes a lot of facilitator jargon (divergent thinking, convergent thinking, enactment of responsibility) which can make it difficult to digest for readers who aren't familiar with the jargon. There are undoubtedly some good ideas in here, but I was really looking for a book that would help me manage a typical board meeting. To use this book in that way, it's necessary to winnow out the material that is designed for use in a retreat-style facilitator-led decision-making process. I would recommend this book for readers interested in becoming professional facilitators, or for people working with groups that have become dysfunctional and need a major rehabilitation of their decision-making style which the group-members have time to pursue (probably because they are hired employees who will be using paid work-time to pursue the process).

[email protected]

Review posted September 8, 2015

4

Easy to read and follow directions for facilitating a group discussion. Suggestions for including everyone in the discussion, keeping the meeting moving without taking over, how to generate ideas and bring about decisions. I wanted to see someone conducting a meeting and watch then used the techniques lined out by the author.

[email protected]

Review posted August 24, 2015

4

Bringing this to our next CHIP tobacco meeting. Thanks.

willie_rhodes

Review posted August 19, 2015

5

This book has a lot of great information! Rather than attempt to read it cover-to-cover, I've been dipping into it for tips and ideas on an as-needed basis. What I love about this book it how specific it is. Not only does the author give you the concepts, he also gives you actual phrases you can use during a meeting to inspire participation and manage group dynamics. Recommended!

perrindamon

Review posted July 9, 2015

5

I really appreciate practical books that jump right into tools that are well thought out and useful. This book doesn't waste your time. It is concise, easy to understand, and every lesson is well illustrated. Highly recommended for new and experienced facilitators alike.

bbally12

Review posted June 29, 2015

5

This guide provided excellent, real-world examples for how groups interact with concrete methods for facilitating. I have tried to use some of these techniques with varying success but found that I was more confident in facilitating group discussions and decision-making after reading through this guide. The graphics were extremely helpful! One suggestion I might add would be to have chapter or section about cultural sensitivity for community discussions. Another would be to clarify how the size of a group impacts the facilitator's strategies (e.g. Large community meeting versus a small executive leadership team).

ckamiya

Review posted June 29, 2015

5

A colleague of mine recommended the "Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making" as a great resource to support my personal development goals. This book did not disappoint. It has been a wonderful resource as I have been facilitating more, and more meetings. The guide has everything from techniques and tools, to thoughtful distinctions on a whole list of concepts. I would highly recommend this resource to anyone who is interested in improving their facilitator skills. As a trainer, I could see this guide being very useful in helping articulating why skills are important and how to demonstrate them.

Gleggett

Review posted June 7, 2015

5

I am just beginning to explore facilitative decision making and organization. I found this book to be incredibly insightful and detailed. In a manner that allows for multiple learning techniques, utilizing pictures and diagrams helps tremendously. I would recommend this to any person whether beginner or farther in their own journey of facilitation. Thanks!

Hazenrd

Review posted June 3, 2015

4

I think participatory decision making is one of the most difficult tasks any group faces and usually they do it without guidance or critical knowledge. Sam Kaner provides a wide range of techniques, and common but specialized situations, that are useful to all groups attempting to move forward with this type of a decision making process.

lisabethdmiller

Review posted June 1, 2015

4

I greatly appreciated the useful and easy-to-digest information in Kaner's facilitation guide. I have already used some of the concepts, and have recommended the book to many fellow graduate students and professional contacts. I look forward to using the facilitation tips professionally. I gave it four stars rather than five just because I found some of the language a bit corny - the "groan zone", for example. That said, it is memorable and easy to understand!

kswoboda

Review posted May 3, 2015

4

This book was well organized and material is immediately applicable to work in facilitation. I definitely recommend this. Principles will be implemented on an ongoing basis when working with councils and boards to implement projects.

sheco

Review posted April 18, 2015

5

Text is large and easy to read. Book is well organized and explains things clearly. Figures help emphasize the point.

Brittmcgurk

Review posted April 7, 2015

4

This book provides some helpful tools and useful real life advice with detailed examples. I have found it beneficial in facilitating meetings in the workplace.

rsteely

Review posted April 6, 2015

5

This is an excellent manual. The authors clearly know and do this work. They write from experience and offer practical, clear and spot-on advice for everything from how to read (and change) a group's energy to how to create an effective agenda to how to take the most useful flipchart notes. A great resource!

beam.michelle

Review posted March 31, 2015

5

Sam Kaner's Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making is the bible of non-judgmental facilitation theory and practice. I had the privilege of taking Sam's the Community at Work Facilitation Workshop in San Francisco two years ago--it was transformative. We, OHSU medical students, have now applied the principles described in this book create participatory spaces for learning in Medical School at OHSU. By applying the principles described in this text, we've created collaborative spaces amidst a medical culture that often favors competition over collaboration. The application of these principles has been transformative for myself and my peers. We hope that introducing medical students to spaces where they feel heard and validated in discussions will translate to future Oregon physicians carrying this learning into their respective medical experiences and leadership. Specifically, we have used pages 42-43 to describe our motivations in using this approach and applied many of the principles in chapters 8 and 9 to creating participatory discussions.

Sebastian

Review posted March 22, 2015

5

This is an excellent resource book for effective group work in teams, boards, committees, etc. The author offers a simple and yet detailed approach through which to conduct participatory decision-making that will ensure positive results. It lays out the fundamental skills and techniques necessary to bring groups together in cooperative and productive fashion when important decisions must be made with the input of different individuals' ideas.

renmull

Review posted March 20, 2015

5

Excellent tools and graphics!

embbear

Review posted January 20, 2015

5

This book is an essential facilitator's guide for anyone working in groups small or large. It presents logical strategies for facilitating groups and many solutions to common problems. This is a great book for teachers, work group leaders, and managers alike.

SalomaDee

Review posted December 31, 2014

5

The format of this book is very approachable. It is filled with applicable examples and practical tips. I found myself frequently highlighting suggestions that I can use right now. The best take-away for me was the idea that a facilitator does their best when they do not show preference for one communication style over another. Participants are not "called out"," either during or after the event, in an attempt to *correct* their communication style. The facilitator uses techniques from the book to validate all participants and, most importantly, help other participants understand what each other means. The book calls this a core value, "Mutual Understanding." I really like the other core values: Full Participation, Inclusive Solutions, and Shared Responsibility. Each value is defined and explored. If you participate or facilitate *any* collection of people - non-profit, business, hobby, or social group - I believe you will find this book helpful. I intend to use some of the ideas in my interpersonal relationships.