The debt ceiling and deficit reduction talks have stalled once again and the deadline is looming. Is it possible for President Obama and Speaker Boehner to come to a plan they can live with that will prevent default? Maybe it’s time to bring in a skilled facilitator.
Organizational psychologist and consultant Roger Schwarz, defines facilitation this way:
Group facilitation is a process in which a person whose selection is acceptable to all the members of the group, who is substantively neutral, and who has no substantive decision–making authority diagnoses and intervenes to help a group improve how it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions, to increase the group’s effectiveness.I
When a group of people isn’t able to reach a decision or in some cases can’t even sit at the table to have a discussion about their issues, facilitators can be very helpful in getting the group past the road blocks that are in front of them and achieve consensus on a new road ahead.
Consensus doesn’t mean that everyone agrees. It means that everyone can live with the decision of the group and will work to support that decision.
A good facilitator:
- creates a safe environment,
- encourages participation from everyone in the group,
- ensures that everyone’s perspectives are heard,
- helps the participants hear and understand different points of view,
- manages participant behavior,
- keeps the group on task, and
- captures and records the discussion using agreed upon language with which the group is comfortable.
A good facilitator doesn’t provide the answers or solutions but instead provides the structure and guidance that allows the participants to work through the issues to come to a result.
I don’t have a crystal ball and like most Americans, I sincerely hope President and Congress come to an agreement soon. We have reached a crisis point. Having their discussions facilitated by a third party might be in order sooner rather than later.