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Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network

Speak Up?! Encouraging Dissent to Improve Decision Making by Abby Yanow

  • 10/02/2014
  • 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
  • Online using Adobe Connect


  • Members of the Asheville Creative Facilitator Meetup


Have you ever been in a meeting when you had something important to say, but you hesitated and decided not to?  You probably wondered, “Should I, or shouldn’t I, speak up?”  We’ve all been there.  We consider the circumstances: is it safe, will there be retribution, will I be an outlier? 

When we don’t speak up, the group misses out on valuable ideas and potentially important perspectives.  This is a detriment to organizations who are striving for the best input and quality decision from employees – that’s why they hired them, to have staff bring their expertise to the table.  The organization should say: Speak Up!  As facilitators, we have an interest in eliciting the fullness of opinions, so this exploration has rich value for us.

In this session, we’ll explore the factors that govern our decision to speak up, or not, and the conditions that are conducive to eliciting all opinions.  We’re going to use the term “dissent” to frame the activity of speaking up, and we’ll create our own definition of it at the outset. 


  • Awareness of the benefits of diverse voices and perspectives in decision-making.
  • Understanding the useful function of dissenting opinions.
  • Learning of methods to improve decision-making within organizations.
  • Identification of ways that leaders influence the decision-making process, and how they can improve their own participation.

Abby Yanow is an Organizational Development (OD) consultant and Leadership Coach, and principal of Skillful Facilitation.  She coaches leaders to lead change and to improve their management skills; she also coaches teams to improve their communication, problem solving and decision-making skills.  Abby facilitates executive and staff retreats, and coaches facilitators and trainers on design and delivery of training and meetings.  Abby employs a few key leadership tools: The Immunity to Change instrument, and Stages of Adult development, both developed by Prof. Bob Kegan from Harvard University.  She also facilitates a workshop called: Polarity Management: A Leadership Tool to Manage Change.

Abby has enjoyed serving as President of the Boston Facilitators Roundtable since 2001, where BFR members enjoy learning and networking with a wonderful community of colleagues.  Under her leadership, the BFR has achieved a reputation across New England as a world-class professional association.  Abby has a Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication, Certification in Organizational development from NTL, National Training Labs, and is a certified coach through ICF. Abby is a member of MAFN and has served on the committees that developed the DC Facilitator Workshop Series and the Facilitator Webinar Series for this season.

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