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  Alternatives Pty Ltd
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Contents | 1. Essence | 2. Frameworks | 3. Skills | 4. Process ideas | 5. Resources

1. Essence


Facilitation is "making things easier".

In the context of workshops and meetings facilitation is the process a facilitator uses to help a group of people achieve their purpose.

The role

The role of the facilitator includes:

  • Clarifying the purpose of the meeting
  • Creating a safe environment
  • Ensuring people understand the process
  • Ensuring people participate
  • Ensuring participants work on their issues and their concerns
  • Evening power relations - ie, democratic processes
  • Staying on track
  • Staying on time
  • Re-conceptualising so it is possible to feed back to the group what has been said in a way that make sense of all the emerging pieces
  • Keeping the group working on real issues
  • Ensuring commitment to action (when appropriate)

The role is not

Role of the facilitator is not to:

  • Work on the agenda of an individual in a position of power to the exclusion of others’ agendas - the facilitator should be working for everyone in the group.
  • Generate lists that don’t go anywhere.
  • Let the participants stay in comfort zones to avoid real issues.

Characteristics of good facilitation

Good facilitation:

  • Is based on explicit values .
  • Is based on a explicit role for the facilitator.
  • Starts from where people are at.
  • Is not dominated by models & frameworks.
  • Enables the group to work on both emotional and rational levels.
  • Is true to the natural processes at work (eg, fits the timetable to the process).
  • is where people achieve something together and feel they have achieved something together .

Frameworks and language to keep in mind

In facilitating groups it is often useful to have in the back of one’s mind frameworks that might help make sense of what is happening. The frameworks should not dominate the process but may help make sense of what is happening and the issues that emerge.

Some useful frameworks in relation to groups, teams and group processes are:

  • Team roles
  • Individual preferences and differences
  • Group processes and dynamics

Frameworks are also needed in relation to the content of what is being worked on. For example, a planning workshop will need frameworks for thinking about planning, an evaluation workshop will need frameworks for thinking about evaluation.

Internal - external facilitator

When do you need an external facilitator? When you can’t achieve the role of facilitator with an internal person. For example when there are significant differences between the participants in:

  • Core Values
  • Power
  • Views of the key issues

it may be useful to have an independent person.