User experience, especially today, is not a siloed practice. To collect knowledge, generate new ideas, and ideate on design solutions, it’s best to bring people together. This job often falls on UX and occurs in the form of研讨会for思维,prioritization of ideas,affinity diagramming，或创建empathy maps以及许多其他design artifacts. All these team activities are usually facilitated by UX professionals.
The facilitator’s responsibility is to make sure that the time spent in activities or exercises is as productive as possible for participants — clients, stakeholders and other team members —and generates the insights needed to move your project forward.
To ensure that your participants get the most out of workshop activities and exercises, use the following3-step process: explain, execute, and examine.
(Note that the same vocabulary is used with a slightly different meaning in the context of a usability study where the “facilitator” is the usability specialist running the study and the “participants” are the test users. In this article, the “facilitator” is the UX team member in charge of a specific team activity, where the “participants” are other UX people and/or stakeholders.)
Step 1: Explain
Activities should always begin with brief introduction and explanation. This can be kept brief (in the nature of a summary) if all team members have participated in many previous activities of the current type, or if they all participated in the same type of activity very recently. If some participants are new or if the last similar activity was long ago, more detailed explanations are needed.
我ntroduce the activity.
Describe how to do the activity.
- Walk through the process, identifying the steps needed to complete it.
- When applicable, define roles for different group members and explain who should do what. The roles can be specific to the activity at hand or can reflect participants’ expertise, with the goal to bring a particular perspective or knowledge to the activity.
- Why it is important?
- 我f applicable, educate participants by generalizing and explaining other types of goals the activity is good for. Think about contexts outside of the workshop:
- Does the activity lend itself well to specific scenarios?
During this setup, aim to describe the general characteristics of the activity, but never state what will be learned as a result of taking part in the activity. As a facilitator, you are responsible for establishing a neutral, positive foundation prior to the execution of the exercise. Like in data-collection activities, you shouldavoid biasing statements or questionsthat can influence participants.
Once the exercise is explained, let participants carry out what you’ve asked them to do. Wander around and help individuals or groups.
Your goal is to remain out of focus as the activity goes on, unless you were assigned a specific role during the activity. If something goes wrong (for example, participants appear lost or do not obey the rules of the activity), you may step in to review the information from the explanation phase. Otherwise, your role should be to observe and listen for comments that can be pointed out during the postexercise discussion.
Remember that, as a facilitator, you are not meant to be the sole expert. Rather, it is your responsibility to define the logistics for how participants will teach, learn, and contribute. If you are asked an outcome-specific question, reframe the question and ask it back to the team.
For example, if asked Is this the right direction? reply:
- Does the whole team feel this is the right direction?
- Did you consider other directions then choose this one? Why?
- What led you here?
Step 3: Examine
Once the activity is done, you’ll examine the outcomes as a group. This debrief is split into three parts: present, reflect, and connect.
Let participants showcase their work to each other or the group. Predetermine the order and length of time individuals or teams presents their outcome(s). Then, ask questions that deepen everyone’s understanding of their ideas. Though these questions can be initiated by the facilitator, aim to have others from the room ask questions as well.
As a facilitator, don’t be afraid of silence. Silence is often needed so people can think and formulate their comments or questions. Participants are more likely to share if there is a pause in the room (humans naturally dislike silence in conversations and will attempt to fill it).
Synthesize what was learned from the activity by asking participants a series of reflective questions:
- Where and how did you get stuck?
- What was fun/hard/frustrating?
- What did you learn?
我f you have trouble getting participants to open up, repeat back some of the comments you heard during the activity:
- What surprises you about (output A) vs. (output B)?
- What conclusions can we draw from this?
Scale this model depending on your constraints.以上三个步骤可以在30分钟的活动中快速完成（从开始到结束），也可以扩展到一个大型、深入的一天研讨会。如果这是你第一次通过一个练习来帮助一个小组，从一个具体的范围开始。
Don’t facilitate and contribute at the same time.很难扮演两个角色. Because the facilitators act as authority figures throughout the exercise, their contributions will be taken at a high regard (which defeats the purpose of many of our UX collaborative exercises). Better to stay neutral. If you do not have the luxury of a dedicated facilitator, try rotating facilitators for each activity. The benefit here is twofold: (1) you avoid recurring bias, and (2) you build up a facilitation competency within a team.
我terate and improve this model after practice.Just as we iterate on our end products, we should iterate on our own processes. After guiding a group through an activity, document what went well and what didn’t. Where did participants ask you the most questions? Where did you find it hardest not to insert your bias? These insights will help you improve your practice over time.
Observe other facilitators.The quickest way to learn as a facilitator is to experience other facilitators. Everyone has a unique style. Observe others and analyze on how they present, execute, and reflect on an activity. A skilled facilitator has a framework that he or she feels confident adapting to any exercise.