Wow! 25 Successful Years! PDF Print E-mail

January 2010 - The FoCuSeD™ Facilitator eNewsletter


Wow! 25 Successful Years! | Gary Rush Facilitation

On February 25, 1985, Millie and I formed our consulting business – MG Rush Systems, Inc. We remained a business through MG Rush Systems, MG Rush dba Mirácles Restaurant, and now MGR Consulting.


In The Beginning


In January 1985, I resigned from my job in New Jersey giving 2 months notice. The following week, Millie supported my decision and resigned from her job so that she could work with me. So, in February 1985, our consulting business emerged focusing on IT productivity, productivity measurements, project estimating, and facilitating.


I advertised to the 250 or so contacts I knew from the IBM user group – GUIDE. I contracted with one insurance company in their Development Center working to make the company IT department more productive (actually, in 1985, it was called the MIS department, but that’s for another article). I had a number of clients ask me to help them with productivity measurements. Other clients asked me to facilitate “JAD” sessions. After a while, more clients were interested in facilitation and asked if I could train them to become session leaders.


In the spring of 1985, there were very few choices for session leader training – especially in the IT industry, so I pulled together materials that I had developed previously to train session leaders where I had worked, and added new materials based on workshops that I had facilitated to create a session leader training program called FAST (Facilitated Application Specification Technique) coined from an article written by me for Computer-World in October 1985. Our first class took place in Arlington, Texas in September 1985.


Facilitation Grows


In December 1985, I began working with a client to develop a custom session leader training program for their people to help with their merger. They asked me to incorporate structured analysis and strategic planning workshops.


I spent 1986 rewriting my materials incorporating structured analysis, data modeling, and strategic planning. I also changed the manual style to use the structured style taught by Information Mapping. This was also the first time that I began using the term “Facilitator” as opposed to “Session Leader”. Our facilitation program was growing and maturing and we were now living in Michigan.


We moved to Illinois and continued to train facilitators and facilitate. Our business dropped productivity measurements and IT productivity and focused strictly on facilitation and facilitator training.


Facilitation Changes


In 1994, I was introduced to the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). Their first conference was scheduled for January 1995 in Denver. I announced the conference and Susan Nurre, an alumnus of our training, picked it up and advertised it in her newsletter, “The Facilitator”. Two weeks prior to the conference, the number of attendees doubled because of our announcements! At that conference, I joined the IAF and have been a member ever since. 300 facilitators met with some who focused more on process, such as JAD and FAST facilitators, encountering some who focused more on “soft” skills, such as ToP™ facilitators. For me, attending this conference was an exciting discovery.


Throughout the rest of the 1990’s, facilitation grew. New techniques emerged and others evolved. By 2000, facilitation was becoming more of an industry. The term “Facilitator” was more understood in business – certainly more than in 1985. Instead of 3 companies providing facilitator training for structured facilitation, there were now 100’s. We were training whole departments to be facilitators. Facilitation was now mainstream.




In the beginning of the millennia, facilitation and an understanding of its value had finally gotten to the point where I didn’t have to sell the concept any more. I had to sell my services more because I now had competition, but that was good for me and for the industry. We continued to grow our business, focusing strictly on facilitation and facilitator training. It almost seemed as if we had discovered everything regarding facilitation by 2003. In 2004, that changed.


A Sabbatical


In 2004, I switched my business from facilitation to restaurant owner with Millie’s support, becoming MG Rush dba Mirácles Restaurant - read “Pursuing Dreams”. As most of you know, cooking is one of my passions, but the restaurant wasn’t what I had envisioned and it was destroying my family. This lasted until the spring of 2005 when we closed the restaurant and in July 2005, we returned, reinstating our business and renaming it MGR Consulting, Inc.


The Comeback


When I refocused our business on facilitation in 2005, I brought with me lessons learned from experiences with our restaurant. I spent months rebuilding our business and myself. I researched, read books, studied, and attended workshops. That expanded my business and perspective because I was now looking at all types of facilitating – not just IT facilitation. Ultimately, that led me to create FoCuSeD™. After 20 years in business facilitating and training facilitators, I was finally beginning to see how all of the disciplines had come together to create this profession we call “Facilitation”. Not only did I develop FoCuSeD™ as the culmination of what I learned, but also we found demand for facilitation skills in other areas – project managers, business analysts, and others who needed to interact with people and get people to work together. Facilitation was now expanding.


The Future


You don’t need to be a full time Facilitator to benefit from facilitative skills. We are facilitating and training in a wider variety of cultures and incorporating what we learn from those experiences. We see facilitative skills as a core competency in many jobs, roles, and life in general. Facilitation is something that can be done at any age. Facilitative skills benefit us no matter what we do, so perhaps a 50th anniversary isn’t out of the question.


In the mean time, I will continue to incorporate what I learn, sharing it with others. I enjoy meeting all of my clients and all of my students – you have made this journey enjoyable and worthwhile. I look forward to many more years and wish each of you much success in your life and in your work. logo