Joint Application Development (JAD), also known as Joint Application Design, is an associative system tool which brings several members of the business together in a sort of brainstorming session to tackle issues that influence and affect their interests. IBM was the first company to introduce this concept into the corporate world, and later, other companies followed suit too. Today, it is widely used during the systems development lifecycle to create the most effective solutions.
This is carried out in the form of a workshop in which specialists of a particular line of business meet - they might be contributors directly through their execution of services or indirectly as knowledge workers. During this activity, which might be conducted in several prolonged sessions, the intention is to pool in their opinions and ideas to work out business solutions.
JAD is inconceivable without a facilitator. He is the person who leads the workshop and ensures that the discussions bear fruit. Their role is similar to a host of an event or a conductor of an opera, without whom the entire assembly would go haywire.
Since so much depends on the facilitator, it is extremely necessary that the person has a particular set of qualities that would make him the right choice for this job. Let's look at some of them below:
- Leadership: The facilitator must be able to lead the team or group. It is his/her job to take people through the correct process during the workshop. Sometimes, he will have to override some opinions or ask for elaborations. Such skills come only through the right kind of leadership qualities.
- Presence of mind: Several things in the workshop-little things, probably-will require him to have a presence of mind. This might also call for expert knowledge in conducting meetings. For example, he might need to expand some difficult idea with flowcharts and schematic diagrams on a chalkboard, and such things must be done impromptu. Then there are little decisions to make such as when to keep the next workshop, should more people be invited, etc.
- Be a good orator: There are many places where the facilitator will need to speak out clearly and assertively. At the very start, he will have to provide an introduction about what the workshop is about and lay out the agenda. During the workshop, there will be several times when he will have to speak in a clear, audible voice, to override the voices of other people.
- A sense of time: The workshop is being conducted on business expense in one way or the other, so the time factor becomes very important. Without the facilitator, there would definitely be an impasse. So it is important to keep the meeting on schedule and make progress.
- Affability: The facilitator needs to be approachable enough so that everyone in the workshop participates without fear. An intimidating leader will see only a handful of speakers, because the others would not be too confident of speaking out in the session.
- Neutrality: The facilitator should be neutral in his assessment of the participants' views or ideas. It helps if he is not related to the subject being discussed, in order to avoid any kind of bias. Someone with knowledge on the subject will also have a particular mindset, one way or the other, and might not be able to lead the meeting objectively. This could be an important factor in the success of the activity.