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Customer Review

on 14 October 1997
All in one package are tools for training, helpful hints for group leaders, the dynamics and processes of decision-making, group process skills, agenda design, discussion techniques and more. The authors are obviously masters of their craft, and using their guidelines will undoubtedly enhance the effectiveness of facilitators and workshop leaders. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The book is visually accessible, with one idea per large page, each page a diagram of the presenting issue. In teaching about the dynamics of group decision-making, for example, the text and illustrations move through various stages of divergent thinking, through the "groan zone" of differences and diversity, to arrive finally at convergent thinking and a group decision that is truly participatory. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Groups and their leaders, being human, inevitably get stuck. For this dilemma the authors provide not just skills for problem solving, but "mindsets for problem solving," encouraging the examination of attitudes, values, and underlying philosophies of cooperation, competition, inclusion, expedience and sustainability. With such a checklist we might not only solve any current group crisis, but also avoid future problems by shifting the underlying causes of conflict. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ The authors are very trusting of groups and their members. There is no blame on membership or leadership when meetings or workshops are not flowing smoothly. The authors state that "Difficult dynamics are treated as group situations that can be handled supportively rather than as individual personalities that need to be fixed." Advice is given for encouraging members to to work together to tackle "any pattern they may wish to change." This volume does not focus on specific issues such as prejudice, stereotyping , and social oppression; this is a training manual in generic group process. It is a well stocked tool box out of which groups can draw what is needed to address their particular group issues. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ If you are a group leader or member, this book will help improve your understanding and performance. If you are a professional trainer, consultant, or educator, this Facilitator's Guide will likely enhance your skills, smooth your rough edges, and increase your effectiveness. That alone seems worth the price. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~by Paula Green; published in Fellowship July/August 1997; used with permission.
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