facilitator ezine logo
  Skill of the Week

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0126 | November 11, 2003 | 9,000 Subscribers

Check out this core teleclass for Facilitators. Starts November 17th at 1:00 PM EST. Click here for details.

Intro to Appreciative Inquiry. New self-guided Teleclass. Take at your own pace.
Click here for details.

Got a burning questions about facilitation? Click here.

Click here
to learn more about our new Virtual University for Facilitators.

picture of Steve Davis, editor of the Master Facilitator Journal.From the Publisher: 

Dear friends,

What's a key skill for competent facilitators? Process "Intervention" has got to rank high on that list. This week's article, "Design an Invitation for Intervention," briefly explores the three basic skills required for effective group process intervention and reviews a strategy you can perform at the start of your groups to greatly simplify the intervention process for yourself.

I'm really excited about a couple of new offerings we've developed at FacilitatorU.com to help you improve your skills.

New Releases

1. Announcing release of our "Intervene With Confidence" Facilitator's Guide! We're very excited to announce the release of our second of many planned Facilitator's Guides by FacilitatorU.com, entitled "Intervene With Confidence." These guides provide "Just in Time Training" to facilitators and group workers in key skill areas and situations. This guide fully explores the concept and practice of group process Intervention. These illustrated guides will help you to drill down deep in each skill area, enhancing your mastery in facilitation, one competency at a time. Please see details below and consider adding this information-packed guide to your personal Facilitator's Toolkit.

2. Appreciative Inquiry Teleclass
--Self-Guided Version. Click here for details on this 4-hour recorded teleclass now available as a self-guided version complete with learning guide, 4 hours of real audio, and other resources. Put this progressive new strategy to work in your groups and organizations, large and small.

Upcoming Teleclasses

Please click here to view our schedule of teleclasses offered at FacilitatorU.com. Note that our next Random Acts of Facilitation class starts next monday and we've got plenty of room for you if you're interested. Please pass this word onto your friends and colleagues as well.

If you or your colleagues are interested in submitting an article for consideration, please email your ideas. I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for your support.
Steve Davis



Design an Invitation for Intervention
Focus your group's awareness on functional behaviors
to make interventions easier.

The Point

What do we mean by "Intervention," why is it important, and how do you do it? These are some questions we'll explore briefly here today.

Here's my definition of Intervention:

Any interruption by the facilitator to further the goals of a group and the health of its process, using as light a touch as possible.

Knowing when, how and why to intervene is an art that takes skills, courage, finely tuned intuition, and practice. We can't help you too much today with the last three, but we can look at the "skill" aspect of the equation. Three basic skills required for intervention include:

1) To know what kind of behaviors on which to intervene. A facilitator must have some image or model of an effective group to use as a baseline.

2) The ability to "diagnose" behaviors that may require intervention. Often it's necessary to uncover the motivation for a perceived behavior to decide whether it's effective or not.

3) To know effective ways to intervene. Once you've decided it's best for you to intervene, you need an effective intervention process to use to "help those in the system."

What Are Effective Behaviors? So how in fact do we recognize effective groups and effective group behaviors? There's no simple answer to this one, but in our research, we came up with the following 12 characteristics that we feel paint a good picture of a fully functional group:

1. Basic Needs met.
2. Mutual Trust.
3. Complete Communication.
4. Mutual Respect.
5. Committed to Growth.
6. Consensus Container.
7. Product/Process Balance.
8. Shared Responsibility.
9. Shared Leadership.
10. Consensus Decisions.
11. Shared Vision.
12. Produces Desired Results.

How Do We Diagnose" Behaviors? Using the above model of effective groups, at times it will be obvious when a group is behaving outside of the ideal. But sometimes things are not as they appear. Therefore, it's important to check your perceptions and your group's motivations to help you determine whether their behaviors are functional or not. There's a cycle of Intervention that is very helpful for this that is summarized here:

1) Observe the group's behavior. Use our model of "Effective Behaviors" as a guide.

2) Infer meaning. Understand that the meaning you attach to the group's behavior is your own and may not be entirely accurate. As human beings, we can't escape making inferences, especially when we're attempting to diagnose group process. Simply be aware that you're making inferences about any group's behavior and note what they are.

3) Decide Whether to Intervene. There are a number of factors you can take into account before making the decision to intervene. These factors include: observing the behavior enough to make a reliable diagnosis, sufficient time, group willingness to process an intervention, your skill level, group purpose, your instincts, etc.

4) Describe Observation. Here the facilitator simply describes his or her observation to the group, e.g. "I've noticed that when some of you begin to explore the reasons you're having difficulty coming up with ideas, Pete and Sarah take the conversation in a different direction."

5) Test Inferences
. Here you check your inferred meaning with the group, e.g. "Pete and Sarah, do you think my perception is correct?"

6) Help Group Decide Whether and How to Change Behavior. The cycle of diagnosis and intervention continues to see how any changes play out.


There's one very effective strategy you can execute at the beginning of your work with groups that will simplify your interventions. This has to do with helping your group define how functional behaviors look and committing to "containing" their behaviors within these bounds.

Design Your Invitation to Intervene

How you set the stage for your group work can impact heavily on the ease and effectiveness of your interventions. Effective interventions begin with the contracting phase before your first meeting, and setting up the ground rules when you start your work together. Take the time to develop, discuss, and get commitments to these rules prior to beginning your work with them.

Developing a good set of ground rules will describe and contain the behaviors expected from functional groups and make your interventions a whole lot easier to spot and to execute. This is true because you'll simply be reminding participants about behaviors they've committed to and asking for recommitment to them. A good set of ground rules will actually define a good number of your total interventions and grant you implied consent to do so.

Examples. Common ground rules include: no side-talking, showing up and returning from breaks on time, completing all assignments, maintaining confidentiality, and to share what is true for you in the present moment. (Click here for a short article on setting up ground rules.

Once your work in the group is underway, it's now your job to enforce these rules.
Don't beat up, punish, or embarrass people who break them, simply intervene to remind and bring awareness to their prior commitments.

For example, "Joe, I notice that you're talking over others quite a bit. Would you be willing to recommit to your rule about letting one person speak at a time?" Or, "Team, I notice that several of you are coming back from the breaks late. Is this a ground rule that you're still committed to or should we discuss changing it?"

If your groundrules are well-defined, they will prompt most of your interventions. You can even set up groundrules around mutual respect if you are concerned about agitators; rules around seeing to it that everyone gets a chance to participate if you are concerned about dominators; and rules about transparency if you are concerned about people withholding. Now of course the groundrules won't necessarily fix these problems, but they get people thinking about stretching beyond their normal behavior patterns in a healthier direction and relieve you of being the bad guy or gal when you call people's attention to them.

Check out our new Facilitator's Guide, "Intervene With Confidence," below where we delve more deeply into this subject and other models and strategies for intervention.


How can you use these ideas and tips to help you in your group interventions? We'd love to hear what you have to say about this. Please
email us your comments.

cartoon image of a talking man.Facilitator Interviews

We hear from people regularly who are thinking of making a career transition into facilitation, or who are wanting to know things to help them be more successful in the field. In response to this need, we're writing an ebook containing the profiles of 50+ successful facilitators They will tell us their story answering questions about how they made the transition in to this field, what made them successful, how they market their services, etc. We will also conduct and record short audio interviews with each contributor to include with the book.

If you are working as a facilitator and meet the criteria below, We'd love to include you. Just email this autoresponder for a questionnaire that will get you started:


- Must be a practicing Facilitator making $60K/yr. or more.
- You can be internal or external to a corporation. However, Internal facilitators should be engaged in the practice of facilitation at least half-time.
- It's OK to be practicing facilitation in a training capacity. In other words, if you are a trainer who considers him/herself to be facilitator by virtue of the way you train, i.e. learning facilitator, then we're interested in your profile.
- You should be passionate about facilitation and the work you're doing.

Do You Have a Question About Facilitation?
Just type it in the space below, and click “Submit My Question!" We'll respond within 24 hours.


About the Publisher
Steve Davis helps facilitators, coaches, consultants and leaders who are struggling to
present themselves confidently, empower their groups, enhance their facilitation skills,
and build their businesses on and off line. 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. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. If you'd like to reprint this article in another publication, you are free to do so providing you follow the guidelines here. Thanks for reading!

In the Spotlight

FacilitatorU Releases Facilitator's Guide for Intervention!

According to our readers, and in our own experience, Group "Intervention" is one of the most challenging skills to develop as a facilitator. So, we are especially pleased to finally announce the release of our second of many planned Facilitator Guides, "Intervene With Confidence." Here are some reasons you'll want this guide:

  • Offers Just in Time Training" to facilitators and group workers in the crucial skill area of Group Process Intervention, more succinctly and completely than any other document we've seen before.
  • No fluff! This guide is practical, easy to read, with models, tips, and strategies you can use right away.
  • Includes an audio portion that answers real world problems around Intervention.
  • Includes models that will help you decide when and when not to Intervene, how deep to Intervene, and how to Intervene gracefully.
  • Illustrated 33-page guide will help you to drill down deep and master the art of Intervention in any situation.
  • This information-packed guide is a must to include in your personal Facilitator's Toolkit

Who is this guide most useful for? This guide is for anyone who plays a facilitative or leadership role in a group. It explores practical ways to effectively intervene on individual and group behaviors to realign, refocus, challenge, or protect group process. In particular, it is useful for group facilitators, trainers, life coaches, teachers, business and community leaders, and managers, whatever level of skill they have in group facilitation.

Here's an overview of the contents of this information-rich guide:

What is an Intervention? Our guide is built on the following definition of Intervention:

Any interruption by the facilitator to further the goals of a group and the health of its process, using as light a touch as possible.

Types of Interventions. Why do we intervene? What kinds of things are we after in an intervention? The reasons are many. Learn about the five key "types" of Interventions.

Core Values of Intervention.
Learn about the three core values Facilitators can draw upon to inform their decisions to intervene and their approaches for doing so.

Intervention Skills.
Learn the three basic skills required by a facilitator to effectively Intervene in groups.

What are Effective Behaviors?
Learn the 12 Characteristics of Functional Groups recently developed by FacilitatorU. They build upon each other in a functional hierarchy that moves from inwardly to outwardly focused behaviors, which each one building upon the next. This model will give you the Snapshot of a Functional Group--critical as a foundation from which to Intervene.

A Model for Diagnosis and Intervention.
Learn a simple 6-step model for diagnosis and intervention that will make Intervention a whole lot easier.

Guidelines and Strategies for Intervention.
Learn 10 practical guidelines and strategies that show you when and how to intervene.

When Not to Intervene.
Learn to recognize the situations where Intervention is not appropriate.

Raising the Bar.
Learn 6 keys to continuously building your capacity to Intervene Effectively.

Facilitator's Intervention Checklist.
A 10-part checklist to help you decide when an intervention is appropriate.

Worksheets. Worksheets to collect your own ideas, resources, and actions to employ what you learn from the guide.

RealAudio of the 50-minute TeleClass.
Contains a lively real-audio recording of a recent teleclass exploring the application of Intervention models and strategies to participant's real-life problems.

Cost of this Guide: $17.95

Click here to order now.

Special Offer. Order this guide and our previous guide, "Getting Full Participation," for only $24.95 if you order by this Friday. A savings of over $10.

Click here to take advantage of this special offer.

100% Money-Back Guarantee. If for any reason, you are not satisfied with this product, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case. (Why? Because we are sensitive to the fact that you are buying an e-product from us and we feel that if this package isn't EXACTLY what you expected or wanted, that you should be able to get 100% of your money back. This policy completely removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction rates extremely high.)


Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal. Look for your next issue on November 18, 2003.


Copyright 2003. All Rights Reserved