Autodesk got its start when we democratized CAD technology by making it available on personal computers that were much less expensive than special-purpose workstations so that small mom and pop architect shops could graduate from using their drafting tables. We have never forgotten that and still do this today, but in addition to small shops, we also have large firms as customers. For them, we are often a trusted advisor instead of just another vendor. Part of the reason is that we work closely with them to help them solve their workflow-related problems.
One of the things that some of our larger customers take advantage of is our Future of Making workshops. In these workshops, a customer identifies a problem that they are having, and Autodesk works with them to apply problem-solving techniques in pursuit of solutions. Over a series of blog posts, I thought I'd share some of those techniques.
One problem that some companies have is that they can't effectively engage their teams in problem-solving. When they have meetings, the energy level is low or participation is uneven where some attendees dominate the discussion while others hardly contribute.
To help have effective problem-solving meetings, Autodesk has a Facilitation Planning Graph.
As the facilitator of a problem solving meeting, you should:
The facilitator places Post-it notes with the meeting's planned activities on this 2-by-2 grid as a planning exercise before the problem solving meeting. This forms a map in the facilitator's mind of how the facilitator will lead the meeting.
The key to good facilitation is to balance activities done by the individual with those done by the group as a group. In addition, facilitators need to recognize that information flows two ways: Information is shared with attendees (pushed) while information is gathered from the group (pulled). There should be a balance of push and pull when engaging in problem-solving. A meeting with all push is just a presentation, and a meeting with all pull is just uncoordinated brainstorming. Mapping out the activities of the meeting ahead of time, balancing individual versus group and push versus pull, helps facilitate good problem-solving. Good meetings start with ATTENTION earned by the facilitator, controlling the EMOTION of the group, INFORMATION flowing in both directions, and desired OUTCOMES that are stated in advance and achieved during the meeting.
Technique sharing is alive in the lab.