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Flip thinking and groups


Leading a number of groups can be rewarding. Yet lately, leading Sunday school,  a college class, and business workshops has increased my general irritation. My irritation stems from the ineffectiveness of my approach in achieving my goal. My goal of stimulating discussion and creative problem solving by the participants too easily morphs into me doing all the work. Enter flip thinking.

Human nature pushes most of us to let someone who wants to do more than their share do just that. That’s why 20% of the people produce 80% of the results. As a teacher/facilitator my role should be to raise the level of productivity of the other 80%. Since I love what I do, my natural tendency to dominate discussions requires a new approach. Flip Thinking.

My college class was assigned their homework during class today. I send them the lecture or PowerPoint several days in advance and I will expect them to come to class prepared to work. Their homework was doubly weighted to get their attention.

Beyond providing a little historical perspective on the lesson, my Sunday school class no longer listens to me. I am perfectly content to let silence rule the time. God of course has already whispered to me, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.”

Meetings still need some work. I like Patrick Lencioni’s model of meetings which starts with a limited agenda and allows for more spontaneous problem solving. What I need to add is to begin with the end in mind. Asking for decisions at the start, and then seeking discussion where necessary, will move preparation and thinking outside the meeting rather than during the meeting.

Groups allow efficient tapping into the collective abilities and viewpoints faster and better than individual efforts alone. Human nature sometimes allows groups to coast and the facilitator to hog the show. As the Fray funks out the national anthem  at the March madness final, I see my flip thinking role as a good point guard dishing out assists rather than worry about my points. Go Wildcats.

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