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This is a guest post from Paul Worrall, Project Manager at LBi Ltd.
I attended the facilitation training session about 6 months ago. This has helped greatly across all team meetings, especially when gathering info from a broad project team.
A specific instance relates to agile project methodology. When planning a sprint (iteration of work) we took a day to plan this. The morning session was to review the product backlog and select user stories for the upcoming sprint. The afternoon was used to place hour time estimates for each discipline (qa, int dev, java dev, design etc) for each user story. That information was used to check we had correct resource levels, had not over promised and was used for the sprint burndown chart which tracked progress. Both sessions were attended by all team members and various client stakeholders.
The afternoon session had traditionally been trawling selected user stories and allocating hour estimates individually. This involved a very dry session with one user operating computer to insert agreed hours. This would take 4 hours on average.
After facilitation training I altered the session. I split the team in to smaller teams, gave them post it notes and asked them all to write up the individual hours for each discipline. They then reported those back to the other teams to validate as some teams did not have all disciplines included. The wider team were able to suggest if estimates were too high or low or correct.
After a couple of sessions we got the afternoon session down to 1-1.5 hours. With a big team this saves a lot of time and, of course, money. The additional bonus is that the team talked to one another, not just mates they knew before, so this helped team morale and helped efficiency in communication.