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The Future Work Environment: Digital Facilitation Methods

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Effective Communication with Virtual Teams (23-slide PowerPoint presentation). The number of people working remotely has been increasing progressively across the globe. An employee benefits report narrates that around 60% companies in the US offer telecommuting opportunities. According to Upwork, freelancers and contractors have increased by 81% from 2014 to 2017. [read more]

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The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to rapidly adopt virtual work environments, making it the new norm in the Digital Transformation process.  Digital Collaboration Platforms have been pivotal in the current scenario and have forever changed the work environment to include Virtual Work and Digital Facilitation.

Digital Collaboration Platforms provide a combination of activities in one place, making meetings almost trouble-free.  These platforms take leverage of tools to help perform activities, such as:

  • Create agendas and conduct pre-engagement communication
  • Documentation and note-taking
  • File storage and documents sharing (videos, images)
  • Administer surveys / polls
  • Chat with facilitator-specific features (anonymize, voting, hide comments)
  • Conduct assignments and exams
  • Booking system and timer
  • Post-engagement discussions and follow-up tasks

However, Digital Facilitation has its own set of challenges, principles, and methods that are to be managed for the future work environment to run smoothly.  Digital Facilitation Methods vary from simple to very complex and there is an abundance of them.  The following 3 methods are quite popular in facilitating asynchronous and synchronous Digital Collaboration:

  1. Double Diamond
  2. Open Space
  3. Sociocracy 3.0

Let us examine the 3 Digital Facilitation Methods moref deeply.

Double Diamond

It is a structured method to Digital Facilitation that is useful in problem solving and idea generation.  The method tackles challenges in 4 key phases—Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver.  The Double Diamond method employs the divergent thinking first—to open up the participants to share as much as possible without limiting ideas.  The method then utilizes convergent thinking to focus on narrowing down the problems, finding potential solutions to the problem, and implementing the most viable solution(s).

Potential solutions and ideas can be prioritized and filtered using Digital Collaboration Platforms’ features, i.e., polls, likes, or assigning scores.  All project phases can be documented on the go, in a single Digital Facilitation workspace and the same workspace can be used to continue the delivery phase.

Open Space

The Open Space Digital Facilitation method is designed for self-organization, inclusivity, and emergent agendas.  The method focuses on finding important elements through discussions facilitated by Digital Collaboration Platforms in order to improve further.  The Open Space method is governed by the “Law of Two Feet,” which states that if at any time you find yourself in a situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet and go somewhere else where you can.

In this method, a collaboration session starts without an agenda, but the process is designed to ensure that the issues that are most important to the people involved will surface and become part of the agenda.  This is done by inviting participants to propose topics as chat comments utilizing Digital Facilitation Platforms.  Other participants ‘like’ a comment (topic) to show their interest or prioritize by using voting or polling features.  The facilitator then organizes the topics by likes or votes and decide how many topics will be covered in a given session.  A loose agenda is then created and host of each topic is assigned.  Booking feature of the Digital Facilitation Platforms can be utilized for choosing which topic participants will start with.  A separate page within a Digital Facilitation Platform workspace can be dedicated to each topic, to document everything and add instructions, videos, or any other files.  Video conferencing tool of the Platform can be used side-by-side.

Sociocracy 3.0

This Digital Facilitation method goes a step further in problem-solving than other approaches.  As the name suggest, Sociocracy 3.0 method puts everyone really behind an idea and necessitates consent of all the participants for it to work.

Interested in learning more about Sociocracy 3.0 and the other Digital Facilitation Methods and Digital Collaboration tools?  You can download an editable PowerPoint on Digital Facilitation Methods here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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