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The Power of Facilitation Making It Easy For Groups to Achieve Results by Kimberly Bain et al

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Written collectively by a diverse group of international experts from different career backgrounds who suggest facilitation is important but often not taught as there is just an assumption people who are in relevant positions know what facilitation is and how to facilitate well.

A goal of facilitation is to reduce misinterpretations, miscommunications and misunderstandings and harness the power of collaboration. To facilitate you need to know how to contract with the clients, enabling and creating the space, time and structures for authentic, open and creative conversations.

Aim to guide people through the reactivation process of remembering how to ask original questions. This enables genuine dialogues, even about issues in which there are very deep and conflicting feelings or beliefs.

Facilitation can potentially change how an organisation thinks. Aim to encourage critical thinking, support people to brainstorm through problems and think together using collaborative processes. Focus on the why and create a strategic plan, allowing organizations to continuously evolve and grow. Using a solution-focused approach, and abundance mentality, can creates a sense of optimism and engagement.

Clearly to be a good facilitator you need to have your own priorities sorted, be well organised and appear calm.

Organizations may marginalize people who ask questions, labeling them as not being team players. A good facilitator harnesses people who ask questions, as questioning is the very essence of facilitation and allows groups to explore answers for mutual benefit.

When you hear people say some of the best innovations happen on the back of an envelope they omit the important fact that what really ignited the innovation was the collaborative dialogue that happened around the table

Vacuum Monster: When there is a void of information, it will automatically and quickly be filled with something. Unfortunately, most of the time what fills that information vacuum may not be true, is based on speculation and causes conflict. This Vacuum Monster can grow and be made worse by the Attribution Theory, in which people attribute intent behind others actions, self-serving bias, fear of loss and our tendency to use emotion before reason.

The Vacuum Monster is indiscriminate; it will attack individuals, groups, teams and nations. Therefore try to avoid a void of information – good communication (or achieving this via facilitation as this book suggests) can help overcome the Vacuum Monster. Left unchecked this Monster will tip the conflict scale towards destructive outcomes and away from constructive ones. People in dark don’t know what to do – so show them light, otherwise people who don’t know will assume the worst.

Evolution of a group. Depending on how long the group have been together you may need to form a group or even disrupt a group. Techniques such as ‘icebreakers’ are often used in the forming stage, this term actually comes from ships called icebreakers which break up ice in arctic regions.

In many ways, good facilitation practices also coincide with Google’s findings in their research on high-performing teams. In 2015, Rozovsky shared that Google found that there are five key dynamics that set successful teams apart from other teams:

• Psychological safety

• Dependability

• Structure and clarity

• Meaning of work

• Impact of work

A good facilitated process supports all these elements, thus ensuring optimal conditions for the group to perform.

Book available for free (or via donation)

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