Effective meeting facilitation requires building trust and safety among participants through rigorous advance preparation, creating the form and structure necessary to allow the discussion to unfold, and then intervening in the moment to ensure that “productivity” does not come at the expense of respect.
Bridgeport helps equip high performing teams with the tools and perspectives they need to engage with the real issues – and each other – with a balance of directness and diplomacy. While we always enjoy meeting with people in person, we’ve adapted our talents and cultivated our skills to host effective, participatory – and even (gasp!) fun – virtual meetings, town halls, and annual retreats.
We count our friends at Zingerman’s among our most treasured mentors, partners, and clients. We’ve learned A TON from Zingerman’s through the years – like how to craft a powerful vision statement, creative ways to strengthen organizational culture, and strategies for building consensus. And, of course, we can always count on them for a delicious meal. True story: our teammate Fran has a Zingerman’s sandwich named after her – the Frantastic!
You can tell how much we adore and admire Zingerman’s. That’s why it’s been such an honor to serve as facilitators for their Partners Group, made up of 25+ owners and leaders from across the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, where strategic priorities are set – and shared business decisions are made – by consensus!
As regular facilitators for the Partners Group annual retreats and quarterly off-site gatherings, we bring deep preparation AND a healthy dose of flexibility to every meeting. Of course we come prepared with a robust toolkit of group processes and dialogue modalities, but in the moment? Facilitation magic mostly comes down to a capacity to discern what needs to be said – and to support clients in finding the words to do so. Navigating the priorities, constraints, and interests of two dozen energetic entrepreneurs (with money on the line) is no small task. But it’s so much fun.
If we had to distill our “greatest hits” of Zingerman’s learnings into just three life lessons, they would probably be: the only way to earn trust is to give it first; leaning into difficult conversations is an act of love; and belief is nothing without action when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
“Kerry Sheldon has the ability to quickly engage and develop a genuine and trusting relationship with a diverse audience, which is key to any project. She maintains a laser-like focus on the task at hand but is also able to adapt to new information and challenges as needed. She is incredibly well organized and an enthusiastic partner; my staff was actually disappointed that she finished the project ahead of schedule because we all enjoyed working with her so much.”
“I have had the great pleasure of working with Bridgeport Consulting numerous times. At the end of each project, all participants have left with greater clarity, a sense of optimism, and strategic immediate next steps. I can say with 100% certainty that we would never have accomplished any one of these projects to their full extent without the incredible support of Bridgeport.”
“Brittany facilitated our faculty retreat, guiding us through our hard questions to find resolutions, compromises and paths forward that were beyond what we had hoped. Her pre-program preparation was exceptional and her post-event follow up summary was so thoughtfully prepared that it formed the basis for our departmental review documents. We will definitely ask for her again!”
“Two things impressed me about our work with Bridgeport: deep preparation, and gifted facilitation. The amount of work that the team spends in learning about the culture of the organization they are trying to help is unparalleled. They then work closely with leadership to ensure that the most important questions are asked during each session, and they manage the conversations skillfully, bringing about the ideas and solutions that will move the organization forward.”
“My team eagerly anticipates our strategy sessions with Bridgeport. Besides being high-level professionals, they also have a heart for our mission and are people of the highest integrity and compassion. Their mix of “head and heart” have made them perfect to work with Gleaners.”