The final meeting

  1. The facilitator begins the final meeting with this frame: “This isn’t final unless you want it to be. We have a set of givebacks that we have heard from you, both during the session and in conversations outside the sessions, could form the basis on an agreement. We want to run through the set and see how this feels to you.” The facilitator follows this with an acknowledgment that, if the group chooses to endorse this set, then the process will come to closure.
  2. The facilitator then asks for permission to present the draft set. This is a way of reinforcing that the authority is in the room.
  3. The givebacks are summarized in a paragraph or two: What each is; what it will cost; who will pay for it. (For example, the company or the ratepayer.)
  4. At the end of the summary the facilitator asks the group if this feels like the right set.
  5. Initially, whoever wants to speak, speaks. When that phase is complete, the facilitator has a go-around—making eye contact with each person and encouraging that person to speak. Again, silence is not assent and it is dangerous to consider it as “yes” or agreement. If consent is not achieved, the facilitator has options: Go off-line to try and work it out or stay in the room and wait it out. (It may be necessary to go back to Stage 3.)
  6. When everyone has spoken, the facilitator might say something like, “Is there anything left unsaid? Is there anything else we need to discuss?” It’s important to allow for 2–3 minutes of silence so that everyone sees and knows that people have the opportunity to speak. In addition, the silence lets everyone calm themselves and settle more deeply into the awareness that a substantial decision is being reached.
  7. After adequate silence, the facilitator breaks the silence by announcing, “It appears that we have agreement.” The facilitator then reviews the next steps that s/he will take responsibility for.
  8. The facilitator may request a pule to close the evening, and celebrate the fact that the group and the company were able to do this together.
  9. The formal meeting is closed.
  10. The participants may want to discuss their own next steps—especially how will they communicate to their constituencies what they supported, and why.

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