Problem Solving

Facilitation Techniques For Certified Six Sigma Teams

Tony Jacowski asked:

The facilitators have to have good sense of timing, listening and observation skills and a sensitivity to overall group dynamics. Facilitation is not just about sorting out problems, but enabling groups or teams to workout solutions to various issues for the successful implementation of the projects.

Role of Change Agent

Commonly, Certified Six Sigma teams have to take on the role of change agents at various points. They are change agents who have to communicate to people about the changes taking place. These skills are necessary for facilitating overall group activities.

Change agents need to have communication skills, meeting management skills, presentation skills and presentation preparation skills. They have to possess good observation skills to understand the non-verbal signals of group members.

Shared Responsibilities

The team leader and facilitators share the responsibility of conflict management. The facilitator can also be an outside team member. This is necessary when there is apparent bias and distrust among the team members, or rivalries between individuals and organizations. Some individuals may feel free to communicate with an unbiased outside facilitator.

A facilitator may focus on problem solving and allow others to concentrate on the immediate demands of the project. When it comes to timely decisions in crisis situations, a facilitator can help speed things up. They should be neutral about the issues they are dealing with.


To deal with various situations in the team, the facilitator may conduct an open consideration of the topic with team members, narrow down the considerations and reach closure through decision-making. To begin with, the facilitator encourages team members to brainstorm possible solutions to the problem.

To make the meeting effective, the facilitator will often invite meeting participants to generate guidelines for the discussion. Encouraging the participants to generate guidelines ensures that everyone participates. Once this stage is complete, the facilitator should add up any new ideas that may play an important part in problem solving.

Having all participants respond to each question can make everyone participate actively. The facilitator can bring about new ideas by introducing a simple related object to the problem case study.

After opening the discussion by brainstorming, narrowing down the relevant factors is necessary. This can be done by eliminating duplicates and getting clarification on points that may be interpreted differently by different participants. Categorizing items also helps in finding solutions quickly.

The facilitator can then use prioritizing techniques to find items of top interest to the participants, who may feel that some points are irrelevant, yet may still be discussing them. This will provide a starting point for decision-making.

Facilitators have to work towards assisting the Six Sigma team leader with realistically scheduling projects to accomplish the goals that they have worked out. Even encouraging conflict can bring out the participation of members in problem resolution.

The facilitator is in a position of neutrally observing the group at work and providing feedback and guidance to the team. Thus, external or internal facilitators have an important role to play in success of Six Sigma projects.


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