Process is Yours, the Product is Theirs.
The main task of the facilitator is to help the group increase
its effectiveness by improving its process.
fundamental assumption of the facilitator is this: If we can
improve group process, we can improve the group's ability to
solve problems and make decisions. I think facilitators,
particularly new ones, get hung up sometimes thinking that they
are responsible for the outcome of a group's efforts. If you are
operating as a true facilitator, your job starts and ends with
the development and maintenance of a healthy facilitative
process appropriate to the product the group desires. Process
refers to how a group works together. Their product could
be the solution to a problem, a plan of action, a deeper more
effective working relationship between group members, etc. But
whatever the product, the group is responsible for delivering
it, not you. In fact, if a facilitator is expert in the group's
content, they must guard against the temptation to intervene in
that content, which might distract them from attending to group
process, and from maintaining their neutrality.
you are facilitating a group that is interested in improving
their customer service. Discussions around creating and
implementing ideas to get more feedback from customers,
improving the relating skills of front-line employees, improving
systems to provide faster more efficient service, etc. are all
discussions about "content."
Your job is to listen to this conversation for "how"
group members are relating and working together. In this
exchange, you might notice that one gives answers without
acknowledging others, that people talk over one another, that
incorrect assumptions are being made, that resulting faulty
inferences are drawn, that the body language of certain
individuals is speaking louder than words, yet it is never put
into words. These are examples of process that constitute
fertile terrain on which you can intervene to help the group
improve their communication process, problem-solving process,
decision-making process, etc. Any of which have the potential of
making the group more effective.
next time you are involved in a meeting, observe and distinguish
between elements of the meeting content and the meeting process.
Write down at least their process observations that, if
improved, might contribute to the groups' effectiveness. Iím
interested in hearing about your experience. Please email
me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue.
Probing Questions for Facilitators--REWARD Offered!
Thank you Sybil
Stershic for your request for probing questions
to support groups engaged in planning or problem-solving.
The idea of providing lists of laser questions for
facilitators to support and expedite various tasks in which
their groups are engaged is a good one. Categories of effective
questions are among the resources I'd like to provide at our
site. So we're asking your help on this. Please send
us questions that you've found particularly
effective in moving groups forward engaged in planning or
problem-solving. Anyone sending in 20 or more questions
will receive a Free copy of the book, "The Art of
Facilitation." Here are some examples:
What are the facts around the current situation as it stands
- Who needs to be involved in this plan for it to be successful?
- Would you define this problem so that a six-year old could
- If this problem were already solved, what would the situation
Please email your responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks! Thanks for your help in making the MasterFacilitatorJournal.com
site the best facilitation resource site on the web!
Creating Dialogue With Our Readers
In an effort to stimulate
discussion on facilitation tips, tools, and processes that are
relevant to your interests, we'd like to hear from you. Please
post your answers to the questions at on our interactive forum
to stimulate discussion on these topics, or simply send me your
feedback and I'll post it here or at the forum. Here is a recent
request from one of our readers:
one thing that I think would be of value to me is hearing about
some of the challenges other facilitators have had within their
groups and how they were resolved, or what outcomes resulted
because of a certain action. Thank you --Rose Jenic, from
Please email your responses to email@example.com
and I will post your answers at our forum. Or, if you have
questions yourself, please email
them to me and we'll post them here. Thanks. We look forward to
hearing from you.
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Message to You
I'm regularly receiving requests from readers for some type of
facilitator training that they can take at a distance. In
response to this interest, I'm putting together a distance
learning program on facilitation. To put together a course that
provides you the most value, I need to begin to dialogue and
work with more of you on the real-world challenges you're having
in the field of facilitation. Therefore, to gather input for
myself and as a gift to you, my devoted readers, I'm offering
FREE Facilitator Competency Day!
Free 10-minute Laser Competency Call
Come Join me this
Wednesday, September 5th, for a FREE Facilitator Competency Day!
Call me at anytime from 2-4 PM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) for a
quick ten-minute coaching session on one of the facilitator
competencies you are having trouble with or would like to
enhance. Here are some examples of things you might come to work
- I need help figuring out what it means for me to be a
- I have a difficult time being in the present when I'm in front
- I have so much performance anxiety that I get queezy when I
have to "perform."
- What does it means to be a great facilitator?
- I have weak personal boundaries so my energy is always sapped.
- I'm under so much stress that I find it difficult to be
- How do I better connect with and engage the group?
- I don't really respect the people I'm working with, what do I
- How do I challenge people without being rude?
- How can I become a really great listener?
- How do I intervene to facilitate the process within a group
that I do not lead?
- How do I intervene on annoying personal behaviors that are
holding the group back?
- How do I know when to intervene?
- How do I get people more involved in the meetings?
- How can we make better use of our time in the meetings?
- I can't stand the company I'm working for and I feel trapped.
- I have a big challenge I'm up against right now. What do
- All questions and concerns are welcome...
competencies that you're having trouble with.
Brainstorm ways to enhance your effectiveness as a facilitator
in your organization, classroom, work group
Get help handling a problem, challenge, or opportunity you're
facing right now.
Prior to this call, please review the Facilitator
Competency Assessment to select those
competencies you'd like to discuss. Come prepared with one or
two competencies you'd like to enhance or discuss. Write down
three things you'd like to leave the call with before you dial
Call me anytime between the hours of 2-4PM PDT at 805-489-4130.
If the line is busy or if there is no answer, I'm probably on
the line with someone else. Please just wait 10 minutes and call
back or leave your name and number and I'll call you right back
when I'm finished.
I look forward to helping you make a leap forward on Wednesday!
Editor, Publisher, Coach