Notes from Agile Facilitation Tools & Techniques Course

These are the notes from the facilitation workshop / course held by Sue Johnson.

My Aphorism

You need to show the same audacity for not facilitating a session having no or negative value, as opposing a team’s decision contradicting Agile values.

Great Facilitation Skills

  • Having made them write it down => great facilitation skill for helping with the introverts  
  • Put someone on the spot, a big NO NO
  • Bring it to the team, they are there with their best interest
  • Good to do process check in intervals in the meetings
  • Secondary Facilitator
    • Originally from Group Gold Mining book
    • I want to use it as an opportunity to coach a person to become a good facilitator
  • If it is about your job, you don’t want to facilitate that meeting, an example of what not to facilitate
    • Even the meeting is not a good option
  • Facilitator needs to make sure it is not becoming a slugfest
  • Do we get instructions to become a parent / husband / wife? On how to become a good communicator / facilitator
  • Get the participants in group first, before introducing the group activity
  • Give them what and let them find the how, on how to facilitate neutrally
  • Facilitator is more about facilitating than being a facilitator
  • Will you be tempted to influence the team? And can you be a team member? To ask a manager before attending a team meeting
  • Facilitating a group is much harder v.s. a team. You need more time to prepare, as they don’t know each other to the extent of team members. 
  • Use of Empathy Map 
Empathy Map (Source)
  • If people are flooded with emotion, you can’t work with them (and facilitate the session), you need to take a break
  • You need to understand that an angry woman most probably will cry at work. It is not appropriate to be angry at work for women. 

Good to Remember Questions

  • What’s your gut feeling, are we missing any of those? (Referring to your feeling in an indirect way)
  • Do You want to say more about this?
  • I want to hear from the people I didn’t hear
  • Stand right by a person, works both for quiet people and talkative people
  • How do you know? A god way to asking if it is really the case
  • Ask for an example, good one or BS
  • Is that true or is that your opinion (stronger word to use: story)?


  • Everyone is right but only partially (our own version of truth)
  • Distinction between Interest & Position
  • Go back to facts, we need to walk those people down the ladder when resolving issues
  • UNMET NEEDS => Reason behind having conflict, look for what’s missing 
  • You Are Always Right! From each person’s perspective they are right, try to use that a lot and believe in it sincerely. Look from their perspective. 
  • Conflict around ideas not people
  • You can improve on Negotiation Training
  • Conflict, alternatives to:
    • Disagreement
    • What wants to happen?
    • Emerging things
Spiral of Doom
Who it is going to be won
As we start to files attached, we start to move to world of fiction
Fact going through our believes
There are facts supporting that conflict


We are powerful people, we thrive on:
  • Powerful Observation
  • Powerful Question
  • Powerful Request

Open Space

  • Open space is for complex problems that there is no simple answer to it. 
  • A theme is good to have for an Open Space

Individual interaction

Individual exercise -> group exercise
(time to reflection, talk before think)
introvert -> extrovert
small group -> big group

Haiku for Team Dynamics

Work togetherish
Live happy with conflictish
Grow with each otherish


5 to 1 ratio for positive to negative feedback ratio
Radical Candor
Deep Democracy

Arc of Facilitation (Very similar to 5 Retrospective stages)
Learnings Summarized at the end of the session

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