Solutions For Geographically Dispersed Operations

Every day, we are getting increasingly alarming updates about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its spread into our communities. Our team has been discussing the ways we can support health departments, businesses and organizations needing to collaborate with others at a time when in person meetings and events pose health risks.

Some of our clients have opted to continue their collective decision making processes in virtual meetings. As a company, we are committed to collaborating with our clients to meet both their needs and the needs of the communities they serve. During this period when telecommuting and physical distancing strategies are being encouraged, we are offering our virtual services to our clients at a reduced rate.

We have extensive experience in a variety of engaging on line platforms to facilitate group processes for collaborative planning, focus groups, participatory evaluation, and other staff and stakeholder engagement events. Participants frequently share with us how surprised they are at the level of engagement these platforms encourage and how quickly decisions can be made by using the varied tools. Since participants have the option to speak, write, or share responses with polls and emoticons many participants who might be hesitant to engage in person are more expressive and engaged in the virtual meeting rooms.

These platforms have many features that most other videoconferencing platforms do not, such whiteboards, virtual flipcharts, and breakout rooms; along with more common features such as polls, chat pods, screen sharing, video, and integrated audio. The key asset we have to offer in geographically dispersed work is the many years of experience we have in designing, facilitating, and producing quality virtual engagement meetings that achieve the targeted goals.

In addition to providing virtual facilitation services to geographically dispersed entities, Prismatic Solutions can facilitate all of the following with you and your team on line:

  1. Public Information and Public Feedback Meetings
  2. Strategic Planning and Action Planning
  3. Board and Staff Meetings and Virtual Retreats
  4. Clifton Strengths to enable participants to maximize their strengths at work; communicate effectively across strengths; create project teams around the needed strengths

We also coach leaders on how to run productive online meetings that engage the participants; achieve the objectives, and produce actionable results.
Prismatic Solutions is ready to address your needs. We will work with you to find the most appropriate and affordable options.

Help our community help Nepal

When tragedies like the Nepal earthquake occur, people around the world want to provide assistance but may not know where to send it and question if their contributions will actually go to the folks who need it.

For the last two decades the Institute for Cultural Affairs – Nepal has contributed to the well being of disadvantaged people in their country.  We’ve bee a member of the ICA global community since taking the courses created around the Technology of Participation methods in 1992. During the ensuing years, we have met and engaged with a number of people in ICA-Nepal and learned how ICA-Nepal played a significant role in helping re-shape Nepal after their civil war. Thus, we are certain they will have an equally significant role in working with communities after this earthquake.

We are confident that there is no better way to ensure that funds will benefit impacted communities than through ICA-Nepal because the values and methods around participatory planning and engagement in cultivating change, that all ICAs share, will be at the center of how ICA-Nepal assists in renewal. You can donate by:
Sending a check to ICA-USA (4750 N. Sheridan, Chicago IL 60640) with ‘for ICA-Nepal’ written in the memo/note,

Donate online by going to the ICA-USA donation page.

Donations to be sent to ICA-Nepal will be accepted between now and Friday, May 15th. Your gifts will be tax deductible and the entire amount donated to Nepal.

Thank you for donating to this fund and sharing this post with your network.


5 Tips for Effective Meetings

All too often meetings get in the way of doing our work. Use these 5 tips to make your meetings time while spent.

  1. Establish Operating Agreements
    Purposes: Develop meeting operational norms, Create participatory buy in.
  • Start and end on time
  • Leave your title at the door.
  • Participate throughout the session
  • Use E.L.M.O. (Enough, let’s move on.)
  • Minimize electronic distractions
  • Use the Refrigerator
  • Have fun!
  1. Ask Questions
    Purpose: Elicit information to expand understanding.
  • Use the journalistic questions: Who, What, When Where, and How.
  • Avoid Why questions. Too often they put people on the defensive and frequently produce the answers, “I don’t know.” or “Because”
  1. Encourage Answers
    Purpose: Engage participants in the discussion,
  • Extroverts talk to think. Image – the microwave
  • Introverts think before they talk. Image – the crock pot.

Give participants time to write out their answers before sharing them.

  1. Use the Refrigerator
    Purpose: Have a place for off topic ideas to be remembered so that the group focus stays on the agreed upon agenda items.
  • Ask people to write their off topic ideas and questions on post-its and place them on a refrigerator flip chart.
  • Make sure to read and address the during breaks and/or at the end of the day. If time does not allow this during the session, identify a person to follow up each post after the session and report back to the individual or group.
  1. Utilize Plus – Delta
    Purpose: Provide a tool to quickly and easily gather meeting feedback.
  • Ask the group the following questions and record their answers on the flip. “
  • “What went well during this session?”
  • “What shall we change the next time?”

Chill Off-Topic Ideas

I was facilitating a public input meeting and a lady in the front row kept bringing up off topic statements and questions. It wasn’t until I asked her to write her ideas and questions on post its, put them on the parking lot flip and promised we would address them before the meeting was over, that she was willing to participate in the discussion of the subject at hand.

In a business meeting a man frequently interrupted the person who was speaking at that time. When I asked him for the reason he was interrupting, he said,” I’m afraid I’m going to forget the point I want to make.” I asked him to write his idea down on a post it, put it on the parking lot flip and promised we would address it before the meeting was over.

I kept my promise. Before we closed the meeting we reviewed the items in the parking lot. We handled the ones that could be addressed in the time we had left; assigned the ideas and questions to the appropriate people in the room to research, follow up and report back at the next meeting. Keeping my promise to give the items on the post its the attention that was needed was very important, not only for that meeting. It assured participants that off topic ideas at future meetings will be well received and addressed. This freed people up to give their full attention to the items on the agenda because they had seen that off topic ideas are welcome, treated with respect and addressed.

Over the years I have refined the process. The biggest change came after I had assessed a candidate for certification. He used a refrigerator instead of a parking lot because he wanted to keep the ideas fresh.

I asked myself where do I want my group’s ideas—baking in the sun in the back forty somewhere or in the refrigerator staying fresh and crisp? I never used a parking lot again!


Welcome to the Prismatic Solutions blog!

We’re looking forward to exploring the world of meetings with you. We’ll be posting facilitation tips, ideas for effective meetings and some of our favorite client stories along the way.

We’re always looking for something to write about, so if you have any questions about meetings and facilitation you’d like answered, please send them to