April 8, 2012

A few months ago, I was presenting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and had an interesting conversation with a man named Jim Shenk. We were talking about facilitating conversation – and using good conversation to make quality decisions.

Jim described this voting strategy: “Yes and…” “Yes but…” and “No.”

Imagine this as a conversation strategy before deciding/voting on an issue. The facilitator (a good board chair at board meetings) asks people to think in terms of:

— “Yes, (I see value in this. I agree with this. I like this. Or whatever.) and…” With the “and,” the speaker adds additional insights, etc.

— “Yes, (I see value in this. I agree with this. I like this. Or whatever.) but…” With the “but,” the speaker identifies issues of concern, contrary thoughts that might stimulate further conversation, et.

— “No, because…” And a “no” deserves the support of the various “becauses.”

Using this approach requires some “training” with the group (board, staff, community council, whatever) prior to facilitation. And, as usual, good facilitation is key for any good conversations.


About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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