Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0153 | May 18, 2004 | 8,000 Subscribers...

Dear friends,

I believe the art of facilitation is underused in our society. Obviously so or I probably wouldn't be publishing this journal. One area in particular that I think is hungry for this skill set is the arena of government and politics. And one man, whose heart and soul are visibly committed to this endeavor, is Jim Rough, founder of a facilitation model called "Dynamic Facilitation." Read about Jim's take on the facilitation of Self-Organizing Change, a key tenet of Dynamic Facilitation in this week's article

Jim will also be our guest at our next Micro-Skills Tele-Seminar next Thursday, May 27th at 4:00 PM EDT, where we'll talk all about Dynamic Facilitation, a process for coming to consensus on impossible problems, and possibly a new approach to a truly participative democracy. Please see details after the article.

In this Issue:

Feature Article: Dynamic Facilitation: The Magic of Self-Organizing Change

Dynamic Facilitation : Our next one-hour tele-seminar with Jim Rough happens Thursday, May 27th at 4:00 PM EDT.

Society's Breakthrough, Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People, by Jim Rough Self-Guided Teleclasses.

If any of you have any interesting stories or experiences about facilitation, group process, work groups, team building, training, etc. that might interest our readers, please email them to us.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis

Group Process Skill
Dynamic Facilitation
The Magic of Self-Organizing Change
The Point

After a college basketball game I spent a few moments with one of the players to help him improve his shot. The player knew that my son had been the national leader in three point shooting the year before and assumed I was a coach. I watched him shoot a few times and mentioned out loud some of what I was noticing. Each time I said something he reacted and asked what he should do differently. I didn't know exactly, but I knew telling him wouldn't help. I asked him to walk far out beyond his range and then shoot. He couldn't reach the basket from there and looked at me questioningly. "Do whatever it takes to get it there," I suggested. With resolution and relying on some kind of innate knowledge, he threw the ball toward the bucket. Without my coaching he was heaving the ball in balance and using more of his body. He was in rhythm. Moving closer to the basket he adapted this motion into a new shot and made buckets with far greater accuracy. He said it felt weird but was no longer asking me for coaching. Now he was coaching himself having learned something his body had taught him.

There are Two Kinds of Change

Many had tried to coach him before, but coaching wasn't what he needed. Instead I facilitated a process where he brought himself to a new level of capability. A facilitator elicits and sustains this kind of breakthrough change process, whether it is in a person, in a group, or in an organization. Rather than trying to explain or teach what is needed, the facilitator attends to the process of change and trusts that things will self-organize. Examples of such self-organization are:
  • New insights where problems are spontaneously solved.
  • Changes of heart where the trust level shifts and adversaries become friends.
  • A shift from dependency to empowerment.
  • A change of management style, from control to self-management.
  • People discovering what they really want instead of what they thought they wanted.

Because of the mechanistic paradigm we live in, changes like these can seem like magic. To understand facilitation we must recognize that there are two fundamentally different kinds of change:

Type 1: Manageable change

This model has explained the universe for hundreds of years. It holds that extrinsic forces, or causes, make change happen. Because of this, change can be predetermined, measured and controlled. This model views the universe as though it is a giant machine following natural laws. Goals can be set and procedures followed to achieve the goals. Ultimately this view means accepting the idea that the universe is predetermined. Our culture views this Newtonian model as truth, common sense.

Type 2: Self-organizing change

Self-organizing change is more like a garden than a machine. Things are growing all the time by themselves, drawn out by an inner life quest for quality and efficiency. This growth is transformational, things can radically change their course spontaneously. Aspects can be planned, and growth can be anticipated, but fundamentally, this change process is not plannable. Type 1 methods are used, but it is recognized that they are not always applicable. In this model success is sought in the quality of relationship with nature, not power over it. (see chart below)


Two Models of Change

_______________ Manageable (Type 1) Self-Organizing (Type 2)
  e.g. a machine, monarchy, traditional meeting e.g. a living organism, democracy, dialogue
How order is determined It is organized by someone
(extrinsic forces)
Order comes from within
(intrinsic energy)
  • Build it / Do it... with no mistakes
  • Closed boundaries
  • Mostly stable with periodic disorder
  • Explore/ Trial and error
  • Open boundaries
  • Dynamic... between chaos and order
Thinking Stay rational....avoid the unconscious mind Be creative with the unconscious mind
  • Decide on goals ... avoid feelings
  • Discern and analyze
  • Stop things from going wrong
  • Energy driven... include feelings
  • Generate and synthesize
  • Seek what's right ... i.e. quality
Leadership Manage to get results Facilitate the process
  • Can measure progress
  • Emphasize extrinsic motivation
  • Static process... step by step
  • Use milestones to reflect on progress
  • Emphasize intrinsic motivation
    ....(mission, vision)
  • Dynamic process... the flow
Orientation Stop things from going wrong Help things go right
  • There are objective constraints
  • All is measurable
  • Eliminate chaos
  • Expect breakthroughs
  • Measuring everything can mess things up
  • Some chaos is essential

Final Thoughts

From the perspective of the traditional paradigm, dynamic facilitation seemingly yields magical results. The basketball player was blocked in his progress, yet after being facilitated for just a few moments, he started changing his shot and teaching himself. Most management literature assumes that the answer is ever more stringent application of controlled change, setting clear objectives and making accurate measurements. But these answers actually block self-organizing change and limit the transformational possibility and the spirit of excellence. Just the language of control can block the new dynamic.

Those in the traditional paradigm are in a dilemma. It is not easy to let go of what has worked for so long. Acknowledging the reality of self-organizing change undermines the paradigm by which we think. Most avoid the dilemma altogether by using techniques, or static processes, as though they "cause" predictable change.

But a paradigm shift is happening anyway. A general awareness is growing that the self-organizing dynamic not only exists but it is primary. In the end, we all must let go of control and facilitate dynamically. Great basketball players, great people, and great companies are self-organizing.

A well facilitated meeting opens the door to self-organizing change. The dynamic facilitator is midwife to new ways of being and knowing how to facilitate is the core competency of leadership in the world to come.

About the Author: Jim Rough is a consultant, seminar leader, speaker, and author. (He can be reached at He invented dynamic facilitation ( and the wisdom council, and he co-founded the nonprofit Center for Wise Democratic Processes (


How can you implement the principles of self-organizing change into your organization or into your work with groups? Please
email us your thoughts or experiences on this.

Facilitation Expert Series

Facilitation Micro-Skills Tele-Seminar: "Dynamic Facilitation: Reaching Consensus on Impossible Problems--Tools for a New Cooperacy" featuring Jim Rough, Consultant, Speaker, Seminar Leader and Author

Attend this one-hour tele-seminar on Thursday, May 27th at 4:00 PM EDT (NY Time) with Jim Rough and Steve Davis. During this tele-seminar, you'll receive an introduction to Dynamic Facilitation from its developer. This is an energy-based way of facilitating where people address difficult issues creatively and collaboratively, achieving breakthrough results. Some of the points we'll discuss are...

"Just in Time" Learning

Attend this one-hour tele-seminar with Jim Rough and Steve Davis, Thursday, May 27th at 4:00 PM EDT (NY Time). Some of the points we'll discuss are...

What is Dynamic Facilitation and how can it help groups achieve breakthrough solutions?
The "tobe" concept and it's relevance to problem-solving.
What makes Dynamic Facilitation different from other facilitative models.
What kind of issues best lend themselves to this approach.
What are the requisite conditions necessary to tap collective consciousness.
Dynamic Facilitation success stories.
Ideas on how a Wisdom Council might shift the United States into a more democratic form of government.
How other facilitators make use of this approach.
And, answers to any questions you bring to the teleclass.

Four Free Bonuses!

1."Using Crises and Teams to "Turn On" a System." From the Journal for Quality and Participation. Read how Jim has helped groups use crisis to tap their full potential for solving difficult problems.

2. "Levels of Thinking Models of Change." Article looking at the levels of thinking and our typical approach to solving problems at each level.

3. The Founding of True Democracy. Chapter 2 from Jim's book, "Society's Breakthrough," which discusses a new model for a democracy based on shared decision-making.

4. Video on the Rogue Valley Wisdom Council conducted by The Center for Wise Democratic Processes". This 22-minute video highlights
a group of citizens in the Rogue Valley of Oregon conducting a successful experiment in democratic process using dynamic facilitation.

About Jim. Jim Rough is the originator and principal seminar leader for Dynamic Facilitation Skills. He's been leading public seminars and evolving the concepts of Dynamic Facilitation and Choice-creating since 1990. Jim is the author of the new book (2002) Society's Breakthrough! Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People. The book describes how these ideas promise new solutions to many long-standing problems, and how they offer the opportunity to revitalize democracy. See details at

Since 1980, Jim has been a faculty member at the annual Creative Problem Solving Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. He has spoken at many conferences, published numerous articles and is working on a new book about Dynamic Facilitation. Before founding Jim Rough and Associates, Inc. in 1985, Jim worked as an internal consultant within Boeing, Xerox, and Simpson Timber Company. His education includes a B.A. in physics from Occidental College, M.S. and M.B.A. degrees from Columbia University, and many years of independent study in Jungian psychology. He lives with his wife in the state of Washington in the United States.

Click here for details about this interview, the bonuses, and registration.


Cover of Society's Breakthrough, a book by Jim RoughSociety's Breakthrough, Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People, by Jim Rough

Great news! There is a Breakthrough answer to today's most crucial issues, such as racism, the lop-sided distribution of wealth, the corporate takeover of democracy, the environmental crisis, excessive materialism, spiritual decay and the threat of terrorism.

Society's Breakthrough! proposes a simple, risk-free addition to the underpinnings of our system that will facilitate deep change in all of us, individually and collectively. It will release hidden creativity, intelligence, and virtue, and establish a way for us to form a wise and responsible "We the People." It's an innovation in the spirit of trust and democracy, essential to a healthy society.

This book is engaging and exciting to read. Read the sample chapters and see for yourself. The author uses stories, anecdotes, experiments and reflections to illustrate different ways of thinking, different models of change, and how global transformation can really happen.

More good news! This innovation has already solved "impossible" problems in organizations. It transforms corporations, schools, government agencies, municipalities, non-profits, and more. You cannot afford to miss out on Society's Breakthrough!

In the Spotlight
Self-Guided Programs

Popular FacilitatorU Teleclasses now available in Real Audio and Compact Disk Formats, complete with downloadable learning guides.
Random Acts of Facilitation-- Self-Guided Real Audio Version
If you'd like to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule, you can purchase the real audio version of this teleclass complete with the learning guide. Click here for details or click on your desired option to the right for immediate purchase. CD versions include access to the real-audio recordings and electronic learning guide (pdf) immediately after purchase.

Becoming a Learning Facilitator-- Self-Guided Audio Versions
If you'd like to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule, you can purchase the real audio or CD versions of this teleclass complete with the learning guide. Click here for details or click on your desired option to the right for immediate purchase. CD versions include access to the real-audio recordings and electronic learning guide (pdf) immediately after purchase.

Appreciative Inquiry
If you'd like to learn this material at your own pace and on your own schedule, you can purchase the real audio version of this teleclass complete with the learning guide. Click here for details or click on your desired option to the right for immediate purchase. CD versions include access to the real-audio recordings and electronic learning guide (pdf) immediately after purchase.

One-Hour Micro-Skills Tele-Seminars
Check out our growing collection of pre-recorded, one-hour teleclasses with experts discussing a key skill area important to group workers. Each recording is available in either real-audio or CD format, comes with class notes, and several relevant bonuses. Click here for titles and details.


About the satisfaction guarantee

If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package, 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.

©2008. Powered by All Rights Reserved.