The primary process tool that guided the flow of the first day’s meeting was Dynamic Tension, which is an adaptation of Robert Fritz’s “structural tension” and Peter Senge’s “creative tension.” As described in TED*, Dynamic Tension involves three components: 1) focusing on the outcome you are seeking to create; 2) discerning what is going on in “current reality” that supports and is helpful in creating the outcome, as well as what is going on that is inhibiting the outcome; and 3) committing to and taking “baby steps” from current reality toward the vision.
As an impartial facilitator, Dynamic Tension allowed me to keep the group moving toward achieving and coming to closure on each of the items on their agenda. The agenda helped determine the outcome for each part of the meeting. If the conversation was flowing and contributing to accomplishing the goal of the topic, I would let it flow. If someone went off on a tangent, I would then intervene (a “baby step” in the meeting process) and either gently redirect them back to the agenda and/or make a note for another agenda item to be covered later.
At the end of the day, the group reported that it was one of the most productive and focused meetings they had ever had. Dynamic Tension is a simple and powerful model for helping individuals and groups create their intended outcomes.