The Flipchart in the Corner of the Room

A Flipchart (all rights reserved)
Suzie Christensen, the CEO at Anglicare Rockhampton (and formerly the CEO at Fitzroy Basin Association), has a great technique for addressing potentially distracting questions or comments.

When someone has a question or comment that does not need to be dealt with immediately, Suzie asks if it can be dealt with later, or suggests that it be dealt with later.  Then she moves to a flipchart placed strategically at the edge of the front of the room.  She writes 'Later' (or 'parking lot') at the top, and then writes some words as a reminder of the point that has been made.  Then she walks away from the flipchart, and continues where she left off.  She may do this a few times during the session.

At the end of the session or at the end of the day, Suzie goes to the flipchart and checks through the listed items (out loud).  Usually most of the items have been covered off (by Suzie or others).  Any that are outstanding are dealt with in one of four ways:
  • It is dropped (with the agreement of the person who raised it).
  • It is answered if this is possible quickly.
  • It is assigned to someone else.
  • Suzie makes a commitment to follow it up with a response.

Suzie is able to communicate that she values the person's contribution; without being distracted from what she is doing for more than a few moments.