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HelixPlan® and FAQ's

What differentiates the HelixPLAN® Facilitation methodology?

HelixPLAN® differentiates itself from other forms of facilitation by its client results, its methodology and its application to other consulting frameworks and methods.

How often do you or your clients attend a really productive meeting? HelixPLAN® achieves a higher level of meeting productivity and a higher level of participant buy-in and satisfaction with the meeting results than any other facilitation method or means that we know of. It is quick, engaging, and robust and brings people to committed decisions, plans and actions. Meetings facilitated with HelixPLAN® produce high client satisfaction.

Most facilitation methods are at a concepts, principles and rules-of-behavior level. HelixPLAN® has taken this to the more pragmatic level - a structured methodology with a set of tools and materials to do session design, preparation, facilitation and facilitation and report writing. For any question, there is a defined and scripted technique to get the question answered quickly, and with closure. The methodology generates the optimum set of questions to be used in order to achieve the objectives of a session. Since questions are asked in some sequence, the techniques are modular and connect together to get the results needed. The methodology also generates the optimum set of questions to be dealt with in order to achieve the objectives of a session. A unique feature in the methodology is a facilitation kit of materials that enables client participants to compare, contrast, summarize and conclude any other method available method we know of or ever have seen. The materials applied to the techniques also highly accelerate cause-and-effect analysis, priority negotiations, and performance assessments. All of the techniques produce results that can be completely documented.

To use an analogy, at the sandlot level of football, you can run the ball, pass, punt or place kick. You draw plays in the sand during the huddle. You have four downs to somehow make 10 yards. On the other hand, at the organized team level of football, you have a playbook with a variety of running and passing plays for various situations. The plays have names. The plays are understood and practiced by all the players. There are conditions or strategies for which plays you use and when. Most facilitation methods are at the sandlot level. HelixPLAN® is at the NFL (National Football League) professional football team level. Football plays are analogous to HelixPLAN® techniques, and there are strategies and conditions for which techniques you use and when. A complete game plan is developed using these plays (techniques), and the game plans (session designs) are tailored to each game (session purpose and client situation).

The methodology is documented. A training and reference manual is in place. The manual includes sections on how to perform do each technique, how to design a session, and how to write a report of session results, facilitation principles, logistics, and materials, and more. The techniques within the methodology are well defined and scripted. There are PC tools to do session design, session preparation (including the creation of participant instruction slides to facilitate each step in the session), and report writing. A three-day training course is in place.

The methodology is stable. It is mature. It is reliable - it works consistently and predictably. It is portable - HelixPLAN® does not rely on computer technology during the facilitation of the session itself. The facilitation materials come in a kit that ships easily to any location worldwide.

One person can design a session using the design tools, and someone else trained in the methodology can facilitate the design. A key advantage is that repeatable sessions with multiple clients can be designed only once, then distributed for unlimited use again and again by anyone in your firm who is trained in the methodology. HelixPLAN® already includes many of these reusable session designs in its training/reference manual (e.g., Determining sessions to do, critical success factors; analyzing an organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats Analysis; doing focused improvement planning; developing strategic initiatives Development). The Helix Group even uses HelixPLAN® to develop client engagement plans. Applying HelixPLAN® to existing consulting frameworks or methods achieves a higher level of productivity and a higher level of client buy-in and satisfaction than any other method or means available, that we know of.

Examples include, but are not limited to: Strategic Planning, Change Management, Engagement Interviews, Tactical Planning, Project Planning, Issues Analysis, Problem Analysis, Action Planning, Process Design, Process Re-engineering or Improvement, Six Sigma, Goal Setting, Measurement Analysis, Balanced Scorecard, Organization Effectiveness.

HelixPLAN® is a rock-solid methodology that applies to the full spectrum of business planning, development, implementation and results.

FAQ's Frequently Asked Questions

What is the HelixPLAN Facilitation Methodology?

The HelixPLAN method is a set of concepts, tools and techniques, which make all types of team planning and decision-making sessions more effective and efficient.

What makes HelixPLAN work?

The HelixPLAN method is based on very pragmatic principles and concepts, such as:

The generation of ideas and the judging of ideas should be separated. This improves the volume of ideas that are generated, and raises the likelihood that really great ideas will be uncovered. It also allows every participant to fully engage without fear of being “shot down”. The separation of idea generation and judging also improves the group’s ability to work with the ideas (e.g., group similar ideas, evaluate relevance and importance, determine independence, etc.), and do so with speed and consensus. Idea generation and decision-making improve exponentially. And, when you actively engage a group of people in thinking productively, all the “crowd control” stuff magically takes care of itself.

A person's short-term memory is limited to 5 - 7 things. The individual techniques used recognize this limit and do not exceed it. At the same time, because all of the group’s work is continuously displayed in front of them, the group can work with more ideas than their short-term memory can hold.

We can’t tell what a person is thinking, but we know a lot about HOW people think. For example, as people think about ideas, they group them (“this goes with that”), and they judge them (“that won’t work”, “this goes before that”, “this is more important than that”, etc.). Each person does this is their head. With HelixPLAN, there are tools and techniques that enable the group to do this as a team, reaching consensus every step of the way.

The people in any organization know what they are trying to achieve, what their challenges and issues are, what the climate and culture of their organization is, and what course(s) of action will ultimately get the best results. In other words, they have plenty of collective wisdom about their business. They may not, however, have an effective way to harness that collective wisdom. A consultant using HelixPLAN brings a process that harnesses the organization’s wisdom (not an ANSWER from the consultant’s wisdom), and gets people into action…as a team.

The HelixPLAN method is transferred to people within the organization, so that the organization has the requisite skills to accelerate and sustain its improvement going forward.

What purpose or objectives can be achieved using HelixPLAN?

HelixPLAN has been used to facilitate work sessions around:

What are the main steps to a HelixPLAN Session?

Designing the session:

Conducting the session:

Participants are asked questions by the facilitators…one question at a time (e.g. “what are all the possible things we can do to provide better service?”, or “whose opinion of our success matters?”, or “To what extent is each of the following factors critical to our success?”, or “To what extent are we currently successful in the following initiatives?”, etc.)

Participants write ideas/responses on cards. The cards are posted on the wall so that everyone can see all of the ideas at one time.

The facilitators help the group “work” the cards in various ways (e.g. to group and label similar ideas, to evaluate, sequence and/or prioritize actions, to assign dates and accountabilities for actions, etc.). HelixPLAN includes 15 techniques, one of which is appropriate for any type of activity the group may need to perform in the session. Techniques minimize participants "preaching to the converted", and maximize participants' feeling that their ideas are being heard and dealt with fairly. Techniques get consensus on decisions by quickly, anonymously determining where people are already in agreement, and providing ways for participants to lobby for their point of view. At the end of the session, participants are satisfied with the results, because each had their say, and consensus was reached and tested every step of the way.

Documenting/reporting the session:

All of the ideas on cards, and all of the “work” done to the ideas are fully documented The session report includes all of the “raw” documentation, but also includes:

Who participated The scope and objectives of the session The flow and summary of the session Session reports are designed to: help strengthen accountability for decisions reached and actions planned in the meeting provide a complete and concise record of the meeting that is “the next best thing to being there”, for updating key leaders, other teammates, partnering organizations, etc.

What size group is ideal?

Any size group will work. HelixPLAN has been used with as few as 3 and as many as 42 people in a session. Up to approximately 9 participants can work as 1 group. If there are more than 9 participants, we usually establish table groups of 4-6 people each (switching the composition of the table groups as needed over the course of the session).

What is the duration of a typical session? (minimum? maximum?)

There is no minimum or maximum session length. The length is determined by the session objectives. HelixPLAN can be used for a one-hour session or a multi-day session.

What space and materials are needed for a HelixPLAN session?

Since all ideas and work are posted on the wall, lots of unobstructed wall space is needed! (For example, for a 2-day session with 20 people, 75-100 linear feet of wall space may be used.) All of the materials needed in the session come pre-packaged in HelixPLAN Kits (4-foot wide roll of white paper, cards, masking tape, sticky spray, markers, grids and voting dots, name tents – and everything else you need for a work session). HelixPLAN Kits comes in a box that is 50" x 12" X 4", and can be ordered online and shipped anywhere.

What is the cost of a HelixPLAN session? Contact The Helix Group at 919-870-9345 for pricing.