I’ve been facilitating for over 20 years now and am always on the lookout for effective facilitation tools. So when I came upon this I got excited. The story goes that at Virgin’s head office, in their boardroom, is an empty chair. The chair represents the customer, so whenever Sir Richard and his executives get together, symbolically the customer is right there with them. This way they are reminded to see things from the customer’s point of view and not just their own.
Powerful Stuff. And one of the best facilitation tools ever.
Facilitation needs a third person perspective
Often when we’re drawing ideas from others and trying to find creative solutions we get caught up in our own point of view and fail to see things from the point of view of others. As a result we limit our thinking and may even fail to see opportunities outside of our own vision. A third person view of the world can very often make all the difference and so it’s important to see things from someone else’s perspective. To come up with quality business solutions it’s vital to see things in different ways.
And this is exactly what the empty chair does.
I often use this as a device when facilitating business sessions and also when coaching executives. It is also a brilliant device I often use when facilitating conference sessions. By placing an empty chair at every table and as delegates work through various tasks and problems. They are constantly reminded to consider the customer’s voice, needs, and point of view. As a result, they arrived with solutions that are not from their own point of view but from the point of view of the customer.
A Facilitation tool to see things through other people point of view.
The empty chair can be used to represent other people as well, such as your stakeholders if they’re opinions and influence are important. Or perhaps the chair could represent a mentor or role model who can symbolically advise you and prompt you to see things differently.
So why not place an empty chair in your office, boardroom, or creative space? Let it be a reminder to get out of your own head and into the head of someone else and see things from their point of view.
It’s a fantastic facilitation tool to use.
Other related articles to help you get the most from your meeting or events include ‘How to get the most from your conference mc or facilitator’ and ‘4 ways to create delegate engagement at your next meeting or event’.