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Lemons to Lemonade

Lemons to Lemonade
Resolving Problems in Meetings, Workshops, and PLCs

August 2013 | 200 pages | Corwin
"Garmston and Zimmerman have written a book that is the perfect blending of theory and research with very practical, user-ready techniques for facilitating meetings AND for dealing with specific challenges. I would LOVE to see this kind of training offered for administrators!"

—David Chojnacki, Executive Director

Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools

No more unproductive meetings! The complete guide to getting the most out of every gathering of educators.

Do your meetings spiral angrily out of control? Or simply not make the most of the participants' talents? Lemons to Lemonade by Robert J. Garmston and Diane P. Zimmerman is the playbook you need to promote civil, productive discourse, detailing:

How to prepare yourself to facilitate the discussion and keep it on task

Best practices for squashing conflict without wounding pride

Methods for dealing with "frowners," "interrupters," "subject-changers," "humorists," and other time-waster types

With this book, you will never waste another opportunity for problems to get solved by the combined powers of capable minds.

About the Authors
To Intercede Is To Lead

Why Read This Book

Problem Locater

Chapter 1. The Novice to Expert Journey
We All Begin as Novices

Accomplished Means Competent





Highly Accomplished Expert

Proficiency Scale

Attributes of the Expert

Chapter 2. Building Personal Confidence
Connecting Mind and Body

1. Breathe

2. Try Progressive Relaxation

3. Walk

4. Center Yourself Physically

5. Over Prepare. Over Prepare

6. Address the Stress of Conflict

7. Check Your Negative Predictions at the Door

8. When Stuck, Move

9. Maintain Your Identity as a Facilitator

10. Monitor Your Need to Know

11. Take Care to Arrange the Room

12. Create a "Circle of Excellence"

Chapter 3. Intervention Principles
Principles Guide Decisions

1. Compassion

2. Precise Language

3. Congruence

4. From Low to High Risk

Chapter 4. Deciding to Intervene
Establish Meeting Standards

Set Working Agreements

Evaluate Working Agreements

Clarify Tasks

Intervene as Necessary

Deciding to Intervene with an Ad Hoc Group

Intervening Preemptively

1. Is the Agenda Relevant?

Plan the Beginning

Cluster Reports

Mix Strategies

2. Is Engery Waning?

Around the Room and Back Again

Card Partners

The Card Stack and Shuffle

3. Are Emotions Ratcheting Up?

First Turn/Last Turn

4. Might the Group be Heading Toward Conflict?


Deciding When to Intervene

1. Is Intervening Important?

2. Am I the Best Person to Intervene?

3. Are My Observations Accurate?

4. Will It Be Quick or Take Time?

5. Can the Group Learn From It?

Chapter 5. Common Group Issues
Getting Attention

Attention First


Common Signal

Physical Proximity

Verbal Proximity

Redirecting Engagement

Join a Whole Table That is Off Task

Refocus Serial Storytelling

When Workflow is Hampered

Address a Refusal to Follow Directions

Assist with Difficulty Transitioning

Address Uneven Finishes with Group Work

Engergize a Quiet Group

Managing Your Emotions

Positional Thinking--Power Struggles

From Positions to Interest

Chapter 6. Managing Common Challenges
Low Engagement




Silent Participants



Distruptive Group Members

Broken Records

Long-winded Speakers


Inappropriate Humorists

Latecomers and Early Leavers


Side Talkers






Cell Phones and Texting

Chapter 7. Strategies for Advanced Facilitation
1. Group Conflict


Existing State--Desired State

2. Demoralizing External Events

Desired State

Third Point

Redirect Resistance

Pace and Lead

Structured Interviews

3. Disputes

Stop the Dispute Early

Verbalize the Issue

Acknowledge Each Position

Identify the Sources of Information

Check Perceptions

Reframe the Conflict as an Asset

4. Dissenting Views

Paraphrase Partner

Pace the Emotion

Redirect the Attack

Reframe the Opposition

Help Groups Utilize Styles

Assumptions Wall

Brainstorm Questions

Disperse to Agree

5. Personal Attacks

The Six-Step Response

Step Between Opposing Members

Change the Narrative

Enlist the Group in Solving the Problem

6. Challenges to the Leader

Process Commercial

Engage With More Intensity

Engage With Less Intensity

Request Civility

7. Subgroup Manipulation

Decision Matrix

Values Decision Matrix

Require a Quorum

Pace, Lead and Poll

One-Minute Advocacy

Alternate Microphone Advocacy

8. Sabotage

9. Irresolvable Conflict

Polarity Management


"Reading Lemons to Lemonade is like having an expert at your side for every human occasion. Brilliantly to the point, Garmston and Zimmerman anticipate and deal with every issue imaginable when it comes to working with groups. Cycling in and out of principles and practical solutions (including providing sample responses) the authors have provided a succinct and comprehensive guide for becoming experts at working with people in all situations."

Michael Fullan, OC Professor Emeritus
OISE, University of Toronto

"Garmston and Zimmerman have written a book that is the perfect blending of theory and research with very practical, user-ready techniques for facilitating meetings AND for dealing with specific challenges. In particular, I appreciated the focus on reflection, the notion of the levels of expertise, and the many concrete examples of specific facilitating challenges. I would LOVE to see this kind of training offered for administrators!"

David Chojnacki, Executive Director
Near East South Asia Council of Overseas Schools

"Given that there is continuing turnover in educational leadership, it seems critical that effective practices be revived and renewed in order to sustain their impact.  This book addresses that need not by simply reintegrating, but by refining and amplifying effective practices.  More importantly the purpose of this book is to further the effectiveness of those 'being led,' and the interventions offer clear and powerful guidance for leaders wishing to amplify collective thinking power of a group."

Mark Cary, Retired Principal

"This book's major strengths include: its focus on an area that needs much support, its use of cognitive coaching as the basis for strategies and techniques, and the focus on strategies and minimizing theoretical ideas."

Dr. John F. Eller, Professor
St. Cloud State University

"Before I opened this book, I tried to predict what I would find based on the authors’ prior writings. Here’s what I thought:  The book will offer sage yet practical advice in response to common challenges faced by school leaders. It will offer specific and transferable processes and strategies to enhance individual and collective performance. It will be enjoyable to read.

Indeed, that is just what I found. I predict that you will too!"

Jay McTighe, Educational Consultant

"I thought this was great! I got so many good ideas to help me become a better facilitator."

Robbie Schranz, Literacy Coach
Waupun Area School District

"Anyone who is in the position of facilitating team meetings will find Lemons to Lemonade: Resolving Problems in Meetings, Workshops, and PLCs,  an incredibly useful resource. Authors Robert J. Garmston (co-founder of the Center for Cognitive Coaching) and Diane P. Zimmerman (a teacher, principal, superintendent and leadership trainer) share strategies and protocols for managing 'the unexpected occurrences that crop up when groups of people work together.' They seek to help readers use these events 'to build group cohesion, productivity, and learning.'
The strategies shared in
Lemons to Lemonade help facilitators understand the needs of particular groups and address specific group dynamics in order to ensure collaborative efforts are fruitful and enjoyable for participants."

Lyn Hilt, Elementary Instructional Technology Integrator/Coach

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ISBN: 9781452261010