Do any of the following sound familiar?
“Our partner meetings would be a lot more productive if they were chaired by an external facilitator.”
“If we let someone else chair the meetings then all partners could contribute equally.”
“Why don’t we ever stick to the agenda and remain focused on the important issues for the firm?
“Other firms involve external facilitators to run partner away days. Why don’t we find out why?”
It was hearing things like this that prompted me to reflect on one of my key achievements in recent years. I was appointed the Chairman of the MRI UK Tax working party in 2001. I was required to organise and chair regular meetings of anything from 12-25 tax partners from the various UK member firms of the MRI network of independent accounting practices. By all accounts I performed so well that many participants wanted me to retain the role even when I left the member firm and had no ongoing connection with MRI.
My facilitation experience goes much wider of course. It includes meetings and training sessions at what was Touche Ross (now Deloitte.), Clark Whitehill, BDO Stoy Hayward, Chiltern plc and the ICAEW Tax Faculty where I was appointed Chairman from 2003-2005.
I suspect that most people would agree that an experienced external facilitator can help ensure that teams can reach higher levels of achievement. When the facilitator has, as I do, significant relevant experience and is willing to share the benefits of his background in a supportive and constructive manner, so much the better.