of the Week
Journal | Issue #0108 | July 8, 2003 | 8,500 Subscribers
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We're eager to present you with this
week's article from a slightly different point of view.
Crisis in Smalltown, USA,"
story presented as a case study of a
recent, group experience
that went somewhat awry. I apologize that this issue
is a bit long, but I trust you'll find it
interesting and informative.
If any of you have had interesting experiences with
groups as either a participant or as a facilitator,
please tell us about it. We may invite you to interview
with us to highlight your story as a case study for
a future issue.
Also, because our recent teleclass on "Full Participation"
met with such success and interest, we've decided to
offer it again this Thursday and are offering a special
package option for those who haven't already purchased
our new Facilitator Guide by the same name. Please see
details below at the end of this aritcle.
Thanks for your support!
Facilitation Crisis in Smalltown, USA
can we learn from our mistakes?
recently had a disappointing experience as a member
of a local personal growth group. As a person publishing
a weekly ezine on the subject of facilitation, I found
that I was a major contributing factor in the demise
of the group. I decided to write about the experience
to seek some clariy into what went wrong and what I
might have done differently. I hope that many of you,
who may have had similar experiences in groups may glean
some lessons from it as I have.
Here's the essence of the story.
joined a small support group that had been together
for several months using a personal growth book as their
guide. At the completion of the book, they decided to
split into two different subject groups and invited
three new participants into the groups, of which I was
one. Group 1 continued with the book and was facilitated;
Group 2 went in a different direction. Group 2 is the
focus of this article.
At our first meeting, the defacto group leader immediately
lead us into an activity for the first 20 minutes. Feeling
a little uncomfortable starting a group this way, particularly
when there were three new members, I spoke up and suggested
we talk about how we were going to conduct this group,
what was its purpose, what did we all expect from it,
and to allow each of us to introduce ourselves. I suggested
that we adopt the ground rules that were being used
by the other group. Everyone agreed.
Then I experienced a great deal of resistance from the
leader to talk about a process, and I began to feel
frustrated. I expressed my frustration, perhaps a bit
too strongly, in a way that I feel may have put some
members off a bit. I continued, to no avail, to explain
to this one person the value of process attention. Finally
someone jumped in and suggested we go around the room
to hear what each of us wanted from the group.
The subject of facilitation never came up again and
no facilitator or formal leader was assigned. I consciously
chose to surrender any responsibility to facilitate
After a few weeks, and after a particularly unproductive
meeting, discussions began among some members outside
the group about discontinuing it. We had agreed earlier
that if anyone in the group decided to leave, we would
come to a meeting and explain our reasoning. Therefore,
we decided that it was time for both groups to meet
and discuss process issues.
During this meeting, one member facilitated and some
interesting things came up. Two participants from the
group spoke out about my behavior stating that I tried
to force a process that they didn't want, and felt demeaned
by me. By the time they finished, I was THE problem.
I garnered my most diplomatic conflict resolution and
facilitation skills to elicit feedback from them. I
asked them to stay with me to work it through, but to
no avail. Their belief was that additional members,
especially me, tarnished the original group. My efforts
to express a larger perspective to them seemed to fall
on deaf ears. Again, I was the problem and they were
leaving. However, the other members did not feel the
Group 2 disbanded and I felt that something had gone
terribly wrong. Through reflection, I came up with the
following points. I share them and this story in the
hopes that many of you may have been in similar circumstances
and may be able to glean some value and lessons from
it as I have.
My enthusiasm and belief in facilitation may sent
the group off course. When my passion for the process
became more important than the process, the process
went haywire. Hard to admit, but it looks like I may
have fallen into the trap of getting to attached to
my beliefs. Where else do we see this dynamic create
- I surrendered my responsibility to facilitate this
group because the group resisted an assigned facilitator.
This is another amazing trap. I am one who preaches
the value of facilitating as a participant and here
it looks like I let me ego and my feelings get the better
of me. Bottom line: because I wasn't in charge (lead
facilitator that is), I just let the group go off course.
In essence, I played the role of a dysfunctional participant
to make it apparent why facilitation is important. Certainly
this was not my intention, but this may have been my
- Several group members were reluctant to consider
any process at all.The group never agreed to assign
a facilitator or design a process, and operated without
one, albeit dysfunctionally.
- New members change a group dynamic. Sometimes
it's hard for an established group, particularly one
not familiar with group process, to believe that they
must start over in some ways to bring in the new members.
Accepting poor leadership is a choice we all made.
Still as participants we had the option to exercise
leadership from within the circle. Why do we find it
so easy to give up our informal power when we don't
have the formal title?
Developing ground rules is a good thing. Remembering
to enforce them is even better!. This experience
reinforces and highlights the importance of agreeing
to ground rules and appropriately intervening when they
are breeched. In this case, several groundrules were
Discussions were conducted with partial group membership
outside the group about problems going on inside the
o Open sharing of personal email interactions were
shared without permission with select group members.
had the perfect opportunity here to intervene on a breech
of ground rules but completely forgot about them! Go
Disowning of one's power through silence, can contribute
to a group's demise or unrest. There were many group
members who were silent and never voiced support either
way. In many ways, I was expressing the previously silent
voice of frustration of silent members toward the group
Separate personal agenda from group agenda. When
I first requested certain facilitative functions be
performed by a leader who didn't understand or support
such functions, my request was ignored. I could have
stated my desire for a facilitative process and queried
the desires of the group rather than going toe to toe
with the leader. In essence I gave her all the power
and failed to draw on the power of the group.
Pay attention to what's missing as well as what's
A good portion of the group was relatively silent with
regard to their perspective on how the group was working
and where the problems were. What were they thinking?
Their input would have been very valuable to hear up
front. There were many opportunities to intervene on
- Some groups simply do not want to be bothered with
attention to process. Either choose to stay or go.
Just make sure you find out that it's a group position,
not simply a vocal minority. As I strongly believe most
healthy groups want a healthy process.
- Wow! I really learn a lot from my mistakes...if
I take the time to unravel their cause. Giving myself
permission to experiment and make mistakes in this volunteer
group really helped me learn a few things about facilitation
that I might not have learned otherwise.
you ever run into any of these dynamics? What did you
learn? I'd love to hear from you. Please email
us your comments.
been your greatest lesson as a facilitator?
Does the above case study bring to mind any experience
you've had as a facilitator that really helped you to
better understand the practice of this art?
us your responses. All those who respond will
be sent the entire collection.
Steve Davis is "The Facilitator's Coach," helping
leaders enhance their effectiveness through the application
and perspective of facilitation. Please email
or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory session,
or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal. I'd
love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful,
please forward it to your friends.
Thanks for reading!
Teleclass for Group Workers
Are you ever challenged to get full participation in your
Our recent teleclass on "Full Participation" met with
such success and interest, we've decided to offer it again this
Thursday and are offering a special package option for those
who haven't already purchased our new Facilitator Guide on this
Join us Thursday, July 10th,
when we'll review our new
model for Full Participation and answer any
questions you have about applying it to your groups.
When is it? ...Thursday,
What Time? ...8:00
How Long? ...90
How Much? ...Only $19.95
Here's a sample of what you'll learn
during this rich teleclass::
Explores the benefits of full participation and ramifications
of not having it.
is full participation? Explores a new model of full participation
from a 3-dimensional perspective.
full participation. Looks at perspectives to take to facilitate
full participation using this new model.
participation strategies. Learn strategies you can employ
now to get Full Participation.
Get your questions answered. Prior to the class, we'll
ask you to send in your most pressing challenges in getting
full participation and we'll address them during the call.
link to a recording of this TeleClass for later reference.
do I Register?
Option 1: Teleclass
only, $19.95. Click
here to register.
Option 2: Teleclass,
teleclass recording, plus Facilitator's Guide ($17.95
value alone and includes training license. Details
here), $29.95. Click
here to register
Class size is limited so please register now if you're interested.
We look forward to seeing you there!
About Your Teleclass Leaders
Rob Berkley. Acclaimed for his ability to help people
transform their businesses and lives, Rob is following his personal
calling as a leadership and communications coach for the owners
and leaders of technology, information and idea-based businesses.
more than two decades of professional experience, he was a
successful entrepreneur, board director for public and private
companies, CEO, CIO and executive coach.
earned his bachelor's degree from Cornell University and has
received advanced education from Insead in France, Harvard
and Stanford. He is a graduate of and has served on the faculty
of CoachU, the industry's leading online coach training organization.
He is a Master Certified Coach, the highest accreditation
in the coaching industry.
New York native, he also brings to his coaching extensive
knowledge, training and practice in the healing arts of meditation,
Reiki, Shiatsu, Cranio-Sacral therapy and Jin Shin Jyutsu.
Davis. Coach, master facilitator and writer Steve Davis
gently guides people to perfect their personal and business
publishes the "Master Facilitator Journal" weekly
to over 8,000 readers and develops teleclasses, coaching programs,
and e-courses, including an upcoming virtual university to
support business, government, community, and personal transformation
called FacilitatorU.com. He co-developed "The Authentic
Marketer,"an 8-week Teleclass focused on spiritually-based
marketing principles, was a founding partner in the first
Affiliate Directory for the Personal Growth Industry called
"Conscious Marketing Solutions,"and recently developed
a training program called "Random Acts of Facilitation"
to help anyone empower the groups within which they work.
has master's degrees in spiritual psychology and administration,
and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He is a
graduate of Coach U, served on their staff for two years,
and served as the founding manager for CoachVille.com, a leading
coach training school.
you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal. Look
for your next issue
on July 15, 2003.
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