Friday, January 06, 2012

Facilitation Friday #1: Anyone Can and Everyone Should




Break down the word facilitation and you find two components:  facile which means easy and ation or actions.  So simply put, facilitation is defined as actions that make things easier.  So what is facilitation trying to make easier? Possibilities include:

  • Individuals working together more effectively
  • Diverse perspectives being more thoroughly explored
  • Individuals feeling comfortable contributing and speaking up
  • Groups efficiently accomplishing more and in less time
  • Creative thinking and innovative solutions emerging
  • Individuals exercising greater ownership over discussions and accountability for decisions reached
Too often we think of facilitation as the sole domain of the department head, the board chair, or the consultant leading a planning process.  While group work often does involve an individual designated as the facilitator, that should in no way preclude group members from taking action and making contributions to helping the group work more effectively together.  Just because there is a designated facilitator, it doesn't mean individuals can abdicate the responsibility they have for the group to function well.

As Roger Schwarz says in his book, The Skilled Facilitator,"Being a facilitative leaders means changing how you think in order to change the consequences you help create."  So think about the groups and teams that you are a part of: (1) What are the consequences you want to help create?  (2) What would be required for that to occur in each group? (3)What shifts in your thinking might help you do contribute to the group doing so?

Every Friday in 2012, I'll explore some aspect of facilitation in order to help you change how you think, and ultimately, change the consequences you help create.  We'll explore some of the values and beliefs required for effective facilitation, best and worst practices, tools and techniques, common group and individual situations, and different facilitation environments (including virtual) or meeting purposes.  In addition, I'll share and review some of the facilitation resources I find most helpful and some of the lessons learned (the good and the kind of ugly) in my own facilitation work.

All of this content is drawn from the most popular workshop I do each year (both full-day and half-day versions): The Art of Facilitation: Enhancing Results and Maximizing Individuals' Contributions.  I'll be doing several public offerings of this program and will announce those dates and locations in the near future, but I'm currently accepting a limited number of requests to customize this content and present the program for individual organizations.

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