What to expect when you're expecting a facilitation

Renata Martinez

Facilitation FAQs

As a facilitator at ThinkReliability, I’ve probably worked or reviewed over 1,000 Cause Maps, no two being the same.  Every incident is a little different, but our method and approach to investigating the incident remains consistent. People are curious about how we investigate problems and what to expect if they contact ThinkReliability, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to answer a few frequently asked questions. Learn more about how ThinkReliability investigates problems and what to expect if you contact us to facilitate an investigation.

“What do I need to begin an investigation?”

Typically, the first things to establish are the communication requirements between you (the client) and us (ThinkReliability).  This may include sending you a quotation for our services, establishing a non-disclosure agreement, and/or attorney client privilege requirements as required.

This process may be initiated by accessing our Quote Request webpage or by simply calling or texting me.  (Yes, it’s that simple.)

“What should I send to start an investigation?”

Once we’re able to exchange information, we’d like to see anything that you’ve collected.  Most of the time the initial information gathering includes (but is not limited to): incident reports, photos, witness statements, timelines, and/or starting to fill in the Excel Cause Mapping template.
Provide anything to help us understand the "What, When, and Where" for the incident…we will figure out the “Why” part as the investigation progresses. Please don’t hesitate to open the Cause Mapping Template and take a shot at filling out the problem outline and/or the timeline.  One key here: don’t let the format of the Excel template keep you from investigating a problem.  Clients have admitted being embarrassed to share what they’ve started.  Don't be. We can clean up any formatting issues and offer possible insight into enhancing your investigation. Any start to understanding an issue is valuable.

“So then we get 15 people in a room, right?”

Once a project is ready to be kicked off, our remote facilitators will set up a meeting (a dial in number and screen-sharing link) to be distributed to the required attendees.  We typically recommend a "core-team" of 4-6 people that participate through the investigation. We can pull in others as required but too many people tends to become distracting and perhaps an ineffective use of everyone’s time.

As the facilitator gets up to speed on the incident (which may require some one-on-one discussions), action items will be identified where more information is required to complete the investigation. As these action items are completed, the Excel file is updated and the team reviews each iteration and provides any missing information.

This iterative process continues until the team determines the level of detail is sufficient to identify effective solutions. 

“What if I need you onsite RIGHT NOW (or yesterday)?”


We understand that some incidents are high priority and require immediate attention.  Once the area /system has been stabilized and the incident has been immediately responded to, the best thing to do is begin the Cause Map Excel file to document what happened, when, where, etc. This will assist in identifying evidence that may need to be collected and/or preserved. 

We may need to come onsite, but this is not generally where we provide the most value. The reason: there is a lot going on during initial containment of a large incident (as you may have experienced). People are typically spread thin with tasks on top of their regularly assigned duties. This tends to delay the beginning of a formal kickoff for investigations.  However, we highly suggest to utilize this opportunity to begin to document the incident in the background until we can get the team together.  

How much does a facilitation cost?

The cost depends on the complexity of the incident.  As you can imagine, the answer to one "why" question as the ability to open a can of worms and extend the scope of the investigation. For the majority of the incidents we facilitate, the cost is typically in the $5,000-$10,000 range.  But we also facilitate a lot of smaller incidents in the $2,000 range and then the larger, more complex issues that involve mapping out work processes that are in the $20,000 range.

More questions?

I hope this helps you understand the facilitation process and what to expect when you’re expecting a facilitation. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with further questions or concerns with the facilitation process, or email me directly at
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