Think about the fantasy. You get into the same room at the same time everyone who’s been saying this and that about something really important to your organization.  You lock the door: no one leaves until (the controversy is resolved) (consensus is reached) (the decision is made) (everyone agrees on what’s really going on) (_______________fill in your own blank).


All in one place. All the facts, all the opinions, all the agendas and emotions. That seems like the answer to the frustration of serial talking heads. Or the beginning of a brawl.

There is a management and meeting technique that brings this fantasy to life productively. We call it a Progress PanelSM.  Frankly, the concept is radically simple. Of course, successful execution is a bear. That is where Compelling Meetings comes in.

Critical Success Factors

  • Convince potential panelists and audience members that their points of view will be treated fairly and generously. The only way to convince everyone is through comprehensive research to understand all the points of view, and demonstrate that.
  • All the points of view need to be organized into the fundamental components necessary to understanding different perspectives and making progress. The typical panel and meeting process begins with topics or agenda items that are over-broad. That results in over-broad discussion that elicits differences but doesn’t narrow them.
  • All points of view must be represented by proponents recognized for their orthodoxy by supporters. They also must be open-minded and interactive, and able and willing to mix it up. This makes panel recruitment an art and science.
  • Facilitators are not introducers-in-chief, and timekeepers. These panel moderators must be active (Socratic), prepared with comprehensive research to help the panelists draw clear distinctions, and to face-off with one another.  The objective isn’t just to delineate differences, but also to explore whether and where consensus is possible.

Progress PanelsSM can’t be scripted, and shouldn’t be. How is progress achieved? That’s the magic of organizing around fundamental, but manageable components. No complex opportunity, threat, issue or controversy boils down to a simple right or wrong. A capable, highly-prepared facilitator understands the various points of view, has heard about how they compare and contrast, and knows the sticking points. That kind of preparation leads to what we call “planned spontaneity.” There’s no script, but the facilitator and panelists have a shared objective: they’re together because they are committed to working through the issues.

Easy? Not at all. Compelling? Yes. And the results can change trajectories.

Want to think through how this might help you? Call us for a free telephone consultation 215-348-5277

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