While co-working on a facilitation training event, one of the themes we’ve been exploring is that of the ‘everyday facilitator’.
Become a facilitator, and cultivate collaboration, empathy, and sorting out the many problems that really need solving! (Credits: Meetville.com)We don’t need to always rely on superpowers from outside to facilitate our conversations and collaborations.
We can cultivate our own facilitative abilities here, today, now!
Why isn’t it the case already? As a species we humans tend to be lazy thinkers and prefer leaving the mental heavy lifting work to outside ‘facilitators’… that is when we even know why it makes sense.
There are different starting points here, as per this very rough typology of people’s appreciation of facilitation:
- Level 1 (the most basic) is complete Ignorance. “What is this ‘facilitation’? What does it look like?”.
- Level 2 is when people have a vague idea of what facilitation is and they simply don’t want to invest in it for sometimes good, bad or confused reasons (e.g. “why do we need someone from outside to come tell us what to do?” or “we can manage time by ourselves”). Rejection.
- The next level up (Level 3) is Confused appreciation, ie. when people are actually ok with the idea of having facilitation in the room, but they have the wrong idea of what it is – they think it’s moderation, or time keeping (see this post for some answers about that)… It’s an improvement from the previous level, but it still doesn’t really do justice to what facilitation brings in the room…
- The level up from that –Level 4: Commitment– is when people not only understand, and appreciate facilitation but they actually invest in it on a regular basis because they really get the point of facilitated interactions – more often than not coming from outside.
- A final level (Level 5) is Cultivation – when the people in charge not only want to commit towards facilitated interactions but want to ensure it facilitation skills are actively cultivated among their ranks, so that facilitated interactions and general group collaboration depend less and less on an external ‘facilitator superhero’ meant to be helping a group. Facilitators are not superheroes. Great facilitators are just there to help the group do their best thinking, and the bulk of the work.
When people see the value of this cultivation, each of us is set to become (and be recognised as) an everyday facilitator. That is when we start using skills and approaches that bring us closer to one another.
That idea is one of the deep reasons I believe in process literacy. It is also the seed that shows where we should invest our scaling efforts (empathy), rather than believing in scaling up our results.
And frankly, how on earth can we stay away from cultivating facilitative skills?
- Are we not facing problems that are so complex that we can’t solve them on our own and need collaboration?
- Are we not working almost continuously with teams, collectives, networks, but still don’t have the baggage to make these interactions more effective?
- Do we really have enough resources to keep on bringing an expert ‘facilitator’ from outside without getting them to share their expertise with the rest of us?
- How many insipid meetings, boring-as-hell symposiums, agonising conferences, confusing workshops, pretending-to-be-participatory sessions, just all-out-awful gatherings do we need to go through before we act upon these every day business place sores?
- Do we really prefer to save a few pennies now rather than save big pounds later by investing in everyone’s capacity to work with groups effectively?
I think this is a pretty universal issue. And certainly in the socially-driven sector.
So get started on your facilitation ‘cultivation’, it’s a decision you’re not likely going to regret.
A concrete opportunity to make it happen…
And because a good piece of news never comes alone, THIS is a golden opportunity to get started with it, whether you already facilitate meetings and processes or not. Go on then, join us and be surprised at the power of simple collaboration.
As you can see in the picture below (that’s our design team for this golden opportunity), working on collaboration is not the least exhilarating of experiences 😉