Dear Colleagues,
Welcome to the new IAF Methods Database Newsletter! It’s the first of February and this week I’m in the midst of a huge snowstorm in Ohio.
The IAF Methods Database software has been upgraded, and it has taken a great deal of work to get back into service. Huge thanks go to Peter Bootsma and Clemens Tolboom for their continuing hard work! We hope you like our new look. Thank you for your patience!

Method of the Month
Acts of God
This title refers to the common English terminology on insurance policies for uninsurable events. No religious connotation is intended.

To gather the negative energy in a group that is full of complaints, issues and problems to focus on problems and/or issues the group really has some influence over.

Create a flipchart, or slide that shows the five Acts of God categories for sorting the group’s complaints. Explain that some are called acts of God – that relate to the English phrase in insurance policies and has nothing to do with religion. The categories reflect what the group itself can do about the issue/problem etc.

AOG categories Problem/issue/concern Actions

1. Acts of God we have to live with
2. Acts of lesser gods we probably have to live with – but at least we can
communicate our complaints to them
3. Issues that we/you share with others (e.g. another section of same organization) – and
can resolve jointly with them
4. Issues that are other’s to work on – but for which they need help
5. Issues that we can work on ourselves without help.

1. Generate a list of complaints/concerns/problems/issues that are important to the group members – using brainstorming technique – but it is important to ensure there is some quiet thinking time, and that each person has the opportunity to contribute all their complaints.

2. Invite each individual to contribute one comment at a time. Scribe these onto butcher’s paper – leaving a space on the left for later working. As with brainstorming guidelines – don’t allow discussion of the merits of comments.

3. When the list is complete – explain the five categories of complaint that will now be used to sort the list.

4. Work through the problem/issue/concern list item by item – asking the group to allocate one of the five AOG categories to each item. During this period – do not allow any discussions on solving the problem/issue (there will be opportunity later). If it is difficult to gain consensus, then allow the occasional split category (e.g. straddles categories 1 and 2). When choosing which issue to work on – it may be important for the group to work on some of the # 5 category – so they develop confidence in achieving things.

5. Now return to the list and add another sheet of butcher’s paper – this time marked as ACTIONS. The items categorized as 1 “acts of God we have to live with” can either be crossed out – i.e. they have been acknowledged, and although they are important and valid concerns, it is now clear there is no value in wasting any more time and energy on them. This action often disposes of much of the negative energy bound up in those items. Or re-label them as “Learning to cope with….”

6. The remaining items should now only be ones that the groups can contribute to resolving, whether it be working with others or on their own. Options now include ranking them in order of priority – then working on an action plan for each item.

Facilitation guide for working with groups. Hamilton, ON: McMaster University. Retrieved from http://www.nccmt.ca/registry/view/eng/95.html

Last Poll
The long-running poll was about preparation for a facilitated session – Have a look:
How much preparation time do you require on average for a one-hour meeting?

Thirty minutes18%

One hour24%

Two hours47%

More than two hours12%Are there questions YOU would like to ask in a poll? Please let us know!