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NOAA Alternative Dispute Resolution Program

What is Facilitated Problem Solving?

Facilitation involves the use of techniques to improve the flow of information in a meeting between parties in a dispute. The term facilitator is often used interchangeably with the term mediator, but a facilitator does not typically become as involved in the substantive issues as does a mediator. The facilitator focuses more on the process involved in resolving a matter. The facilitator generally works with all of the parties at once and provides procedural directions as to how the group can efficiently move through the problem-solving steps of the meeting and arrive at the jointly agreed upon goal. The facilitator focuses on procedural assistance and remains impartial to the topics under discussion.

At NOAA, some of the objectives that will lead to a successful facilitation include:

The Action Plan Process

Writing the Action Plan:

Once all or some of the issues have been resolved, the parties may choose to write an action plan. It is important to remember this plan must be satisfactory to all parties. The action plan should be based on terms that are agreeable to all parties. Remember this is your agreement, only the individuals in dispute can resolve the issues. The parties will need to pay particular attention to making it specific so the intentions will be clear to everyone.

Signing the Action Plan:

When the plan is complete, and all parties are satisfied with the plan and are willing to abide by its provisions, all parties will sign the document.

Distribution and Execution of the plan:

Each party and the manager /supervisor will receive a copy of the signed action plan. If either party believes a provision of the plan is not being followed, the supervisor should be notified immediately.