When a facilitator takes a stand with principles – the yoda soul

Yoda-Principles (Credits: James Deacon / FlickR)

Yoda-Principles (Credits: James Deacon / FlickR)

Not everyone is principle-based.

As I’m learning in ‘the culture map‘ there are cultures that are primarily principle-based and others that are more application-based. As in a) caring about the general context and nature of ‘stuff’ or b) caring about what you can do with ‘stuff’. In simpler words, why vs. what and how.

Particularly in process design discussions, bringing your own principles on board as facilitator can add a bit of ‘soul’ to your approach.

For instance, I don’t facilitate anything for anyone anywhere, because I have some principles. Some of my principles are obvious (to me anyway): I work around interactive events and processes, not orchestrated death by Powerpoint etc.; I work with people that allow me to co-design from the start, not facilitate an event that’s been cooked for me.

Other principles of mine are more subtle, less obvious, and may even take more time for a facilitator to be conscious of them, all the more so to ensure they are put in practice.

One of these principles for me is to ask:

  • What’s in it for the participants?
  • Who is missing in this perspective?
  • What are the implications of that?

There is a potential risk of going blindly with the choices of a client (the person-in-charge) to the extent that there is no attention to equity or to the widest interest group possible.

While when facilitating ‘in the room’ I don’t think a facilitator has to take a stand, in the design phase it is not only helpful to question the choices made by a person in charge but it can also make the difference between an event or initiative you want to be associated with or not.

Other such principles could be related to these questions:

  • What are going to be the benefits of this event/initiative over time? For whom? (Is anyone gaining anything here?)
  • Who is potentially losing out with this event/initiative?
  • How clear is it for a group that a decision is taken? Who needs to be part of the decision-making? (Are you following an autocratic approach?)
  • Who should be informed about this? (Is everyone that should be aware of this?)
  • What is unique about this event/initiative that couldn’t happen otherwise? (Is it worth having this event in the first place?)

So next time you are helping design an event, it might be useful to think again about what principles drive your work and make you want to accept a gig or not… And maybe it will be time to let your yoda soul out?

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