First things first…we LOVE working with capture teams. Such endeavors are always challenging and rewarding. While we do it as external consultants (typically in a Black Hat review), any facilitator, internal or external, must always face the same challenge to realize a meaningful output from a group-based exercise or session.
We’re regularly engaged by GovCons to help them understand their competitors. Anytime you facilitate a complex event such as a Black Hat review, you have to be wary of common traps to which your participants (and you) can fall victim. When you run a team, you must be aware of common participant traps as well as traps for the facilitator.
What are traps for the facilitator? Read on!
- Don’t “wing it” – Go into your session with a plan and a process. This seems obvious, but if you plan go into a session marveling at your own oratory brilliance, take these steps:
- Get over yourself. You’re not that smart. Make a plan.
- Think through your objectives for the session and the teams
- Structure your plan and content (Gasp! Slide decks or other tangible representations of guidelines/content) to meet your objectives
- Don’t drink the Kool-Aid – Embrace your skeptical mind to what you learn from the teams. Don’t accept everything you learn. Turn on your Groupthink Detect-o-meter™. Just because everyone’s heads are nodding up and down doesn’t make something true.
- Challenge what you hear and see, but do it professionally – This connects to the above guideline. There is a fine line of challenging notions with a “So what?” statement and being downright obnoxious. If you hear a statement made (such as those seen in our common traps blog) that does not seem to be firmly based on facts, challenge it with a follow-up inquiry. Ask the person who made the seemingly flawed claim to expand on the basis of a statement made and how it can be proven to be relevant and true.
- Don’t let the loud voice suck all of the air out of the room – Every group will have a mix of outgoing and reserved participants. It is easy for a single loud voice to dominate a conversation and control the team’s thought process. Engage quiet members and make sure that the team’s solution is created through a group discussion rather than a single person’s opinion. Slip in targeted questions to help more quiet participants join in the process. Breaking large groups into smaller groups can also counter this challenge.
- Focus on small groups vs. large groups – Humans are unruly, chaotic animals. Have you ever seen a large group be productive? Small teams are easier to keep on track and easier to get people engaged. It’s easy to hide in 10+ people. It’s much more difficult to hide in a group of 3. Break your session into small teams as much as possible. This gives more people a meaningful opportunity to participate.
- Quality over quantity – Inevitably, we may find ourselves catering to others to feel included. As much as I love a good kumbaya moment, it is common to be in a situation demanding maximum number of people who can fit in a single room. Consider each potential participant’s value. We must ask the question: Does this participant add value to the discussion? Perhaps some people only need to hear the outcome rather than the process. Avoid politics of inviting the entire organization. Focus on getting results.
We hope this helps you with your discussions around capture activities, business development strategies, Black Hat reviews, etc. Working together as a team is important. Winning business is a team sport.
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