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Our New Workbook

Cover, Moving Experiences

Elevate Your Meeting Techniques with the Advanced Facilitation Laboratory

Chris and I have completed the Moving Experiences workbook with skillful assistance from our editor (and daughter), Kelly-Rose McNeil. It was a true family affair and a labor of love, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to share the news (and one downloadable design!) with you.

We had a great time teaching 20 internal consultants for a major Fortune 100 company on the West Coast this fall using Moving Experiences, and we hope you find the exercises as useful as they did!

Read on for more information about Moving Experiences, our facilitation, and to download an example design!

Moving Experiences is the latest version of our designs, exercises, tips, and practices we have shared over the years through McNeil Consulting’s Action Facilitation Laboratory.

If you like what you see, contact us for more information about our consulting, our group work, and our facilitation workshops. Give us a call and we’ll even teach you one of the designs to try out at your next meeting.

Below is a description of the laboratory and its value to participants. 

The 25 Great Designs

This workshop combines Facilitation Skills Training with a solid Action Research Foundation. The skills of collecting group data, publishing it, comprehending it, and acting on it are all systematically covered in this unique workshop. Each Action Design builds on the one before it, creating a natural progression of Action Research, which allows time for practice, reflection, and feedback. Participants are immersed in this work from the moment they enter the workshop. Working in pairs, participants learn how to:

  • Facilitate classic Action Research Designs from the information provided in the materials
  • Design meetings and team experiences that bring issues to light and move performance forward
  • Read group dynamics “in-the-moment” – the missing skill that today’s leaders need
  • Recognize your own feelings and manage them effectively in meetings
  • Make powerful interventions to refocus your team and improve their performance
  • Use silence, pauses, and other simple, powerful techniques to help team members reflect on the group process
  • Design “on the spot” to help teams change course and move away from unproductive processes

You will be immersed in Action Research from the very beginning of this workshop, and learn from facilitating and participating in the designs. At the end of the workshop, you will have a new array of designs that you can apply in practical ways with real teams.

High-level meeting facilitation is a complex skill. It is learned through repeated practice over time. This workshop delivers a solid foundation on which the participant can build a practice. The exercises are taught through the concept of design so that the principles learned can be applied in a variety of settings. The real value comes through each and every meeting successfully facilitated. The return on your investment comes from increased meeting performance and strategy execution.  We have seen incredible results by investing in your high potential leaders and developing their skills for designing, convening, and facilitating critical meetings.

Click here to download your design from Moving Experiences!



Hope to hear from you soon!



(610) 331-4187

Stem Cells for Group Process

Sometimes a well-placed metaphor is just what a group needs. A while back I consulted to a department in trouble. This area was mission critical to the success of the company. Three divisions comprised this function and although successful completion of the work required interdependence among them, the very structure of the department fostered irrelevant competition. Furthermore, everyone knew about the issues, but these had become “undiscussable.” What to do?

At an off-site, we divided the group randomly into three smaller groups. We gave the groups the following assignment:

In a fairy tale, tell the story of our department. You may use all the characters usually found in the great stories we remember from our youth, dragons, kings, princesses, queens, elves, goblins, etc. The tale must begin with, “Once upon a time . . . ” It also must end with, “And they lived happily ever after.” You must write this tale and read it to the entire group. The tale will describe our current state, only in fairy tale language.

We gave them thirty minutes to complete their work. Their presentations were fantastic. They were creative, hilarious, and filled with healing, self-deprecating humor that loosened their perceptions and allowed them to see themselves differently. Their issues were smaller than they thought. And now they had just become discussable!

Towers that stood alone surrounded by deep forests with large thorn bushes became laughable in the telling. However, there were still real feelings connected to a history of real hurt and pain. The group needed a way to transcend these historical sources of rancor.

A solution came from one of the groups in the form the most creative metaphor I have ever seen. A team member suggested that we could implant “stem cells” in places where old patterns needed to be replaced by newer ones. She said that stem cells were undifferentiated cells that could adapt and change into what was required to bring about new health, flexibility, and vitality. In her words, these stem cells needed to contain both feedback and forgiveness. The combination of both would allow for a new sense of collaboration.

Three new groups formed, and they worked separately on where to place the stem cells. They worked for an hour. When the groups presented back, they surprised themselves with their consistency. Team members signed up to make the changes and to create the new ways of working. The team also thanked the leader for being vulnerable enough bring the issues to the forefront so that they could work on them.

And the moral of this story is that group issues don’t go away on their own. They must be worked. Nothing beats a good story and a great metaphor for innovating new group processes.