Alan Boal

by Terry White

To introduce the Alan Boal I know, let me start with a comment a client made.  I have heard it echoed many times over the years.

It was at a break midway through a tough discussion session Alan was leading for a large number of very opinionated and not very  shy participants.  The client said, “Alan, you are a world class facilitator!”

It’s true—but I need to break it down so you see why it’s true.  There are multiple skills that can be invisible to the casual observer.  It is his natural role because Alan is always enthusiastic, positive, and supportive of everyone in a group.  He not only listens well, but he makes sure everyone is heard.  And he unflinchingly challenges people, yet always with sensitivity.  These abilities serve him as a facilitator, but of course they are integral to all the work we do.

But here is the big payoff.  When the group momentum dwindles and everyone is mentally beat and out of ideas, he always has one.  And then one more.  And the energy to rally the group around the right idea.  So, this is where he lives.  Two words—Idea Person.

I’m not talking about one light bulb in a bubble over his head.  His thought process is more like making popcorn on the stove—without a lid.  Forget about any concerns you may have heard about the end of the world in 2012.  The day Alan runs out of ideas is the end of life as we know it.

Yet, the real world is all about putting ideas to work.  For that he can call on a wide resume.  He has strategic and operational experience in governance, policymaking, and administration.  He knows how to help people manage processes, systems, knowledge, time, conflict, and change.  In his history he has been CEO as well as an assistant to a CEO, Board Member as well as VISTA Volunteer—and he brought the same passion every time.

Maybe that explains how his interior life became the quest for balance.  He converted years of journals into a book called The Able Navigator to share the lessons learned and the inspiration he gained from mentors and pathfinders.

If he wasn’t a consultant, my guess is he would be the one teacher in high school or college who actually got you.  The one who freed you from boredom and apathy.  The one who propelled you on your lifelong path.