The Art of Facilitation

An artful facilitator...

...is a lubricant, a liaison, a mediator, a catalyst, a manager, and more depending on the group. Like an organism, the group has a life of its own, with all the needs and flaws that come with that life. The organism can be healthy or ill, energized or torpid, friendly or hostile. Facilitators believe in the wisdom and power of this organism - no matter its condition. Their purpose is to create conditions for this organism to thrive.

Finding the solution to a problem is satisfying. Finding the solution to a problem while strengthening bonds and healing wounds within the group can be transformative.

Novice facilitators might feel tempted to have a solution in their back pocket just in case. They might get dragged into interpersonal dramas or endless back-and-forths in the weeds. They might become seduced by the highest ranking person’s worldview. All of these common pitfalls undermine the power of the group.

Artful facilitators are egoless.

They choose to withhold their own individual ideas or solutions to create space for those of the group. Instead their ideas serve as inspiration for questions that feed the group’s imagination. The facilitator knows that any idea he or she has can never be as brilliant or powerful than those of the organism. And to show ownership of that idea is to be in direct competition with the very organism he or she is working to nurture.

They view each participant as equally competent and capable. Like vital organs. They are not cajoled into taking sides in an argument and are disinterested in repetitive justifications. They listen for words that have never been spoken. Because that is where something new can be born.

Neutrality is not simply an absence of opinion.

It is a consciously formed state of mind to monitor one’s own biases and manage one’s responses.