A bespoke training course that measurably increased facilitation skills.
The Open Society Foundations, founded by George Soros, is the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. Every year the organisation gives thousands of grants to groups and individuals that promote tolerance, transparency, and open debate. Its staff meets frequently, both internally and with external partners.
Our client’s big question
How can we have better meetings?
Constructive disagreement is important for a foundation that thrives on the free exchange of ideas and thought, and that believes everyone should have a voice in shaping the policies that affect them. But a strong culture of dialogue and exploration generates a lot of meetings, and OSF’s team knew that it could improve the organisation’s meeting culture.
If the team learnt how to get clear on the purpose of each meeting, and if team members improved their meeting facilitation skills, then everyone would make better use of their valuable time. They came to us to learn and test how to make their meetings better.
What we did
Together with our colleague David Cotton, we co-designed and co-delivered four days of highly participatory training over two modules in Barcelona and New York City. The training course covered facilitation basics; the design process; how to plan a meeting; tips to run a meeting; confidence-boosting activities; running online meetings; and following up meetings. Each participant also received two hours of tailored individual coaching.
Throughout the course, every participant stepped forward and facilitated themselves at least once, immediately using and receiving feedback on the skills they had just learned.
The training took place two years in a row (before the COVID pandemic hit).
Impact and feedback
9 in 10 respondents said they’d very strongly recommend the programme to colleagues. In two 6-month-later surveys, all respondents said the training had positively impacted meetings or calls they were responsible for.
The training was repeated due to popular demand.
“There is a huge difference in how I think and organize when planning facilitation for our meetings.”
– A participant