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vs. Developmental Facilitation
Does the group only want your help to solve an immediate problem
or do they want you to help them become better facilitators
you begin your work as a group facilitator, it's important to
know the group's objectives with regard to process. If a group
calls you in to simply help them to improve their process in
order to solve an immediate problem, this is referred to as
"Basic" facilitation. In basic facilitation,
the group doesn't necessarily seek to improve the way they work
together for the long-term. They are simply concerned about
solving their immediate problem, at which time your work is over
until the next problem arises, when they may call in a
facilitator once again to facilitate a solution to this problem.
In "Developmental" facilitation, a group
desires to go deeper in their work with process. They seek to
improve their own facilitative skills while they solve their
problem, with the goal of becoming self-facilitating over time.
So your ultimate goal with this group is to eventually work
yourself out of a job by teaching, modeling, and encouraging
them to attend to their own individual and group process.
It's important to know which level your working with in a group
because your role as facilitator and why you intervene
will vary based on this information. In Basic
facilitation, your role is to guide group process and intervene
to help the group solve their identified problem. In Developmental
facilitation, your role is to teach the group to monitor
and guide their own process and you intervene to help them
become better facilitators themselves. In this case you might
intervene to point out elements of their process or behaviors
that hinder the group's long-term effectiveness, or you might
stop the process when opportunities arise to help members
develop their own process skills.
say you're conducting basic facilitation for a group
of teachers and administrators who say that they want to solve
the problems they're having with student violence on their campus.
Filling the basic role as a facilitator for this group,
you help them clarify and define the actual problems, then you
help them develop creative solutions and alternatives, and plans
to implement them. As a basic facilitator in its purest
form, you would probably not choose to intervene and directly
address the masked anger and frustration you see operating below
the surface between the administrators and the teachers. As
a basic facilitator you would probably choose not to
explore, simply as an exercise, ways in which the violence occurring
on the campus might be a reflection of repressed emotion contained
in the leaders and executors of the institution.
Whereas if your group had agreed beforehand that developmental
facilitation was their goal, along with all the challenges,
opportunities, and risks inherently involved, then you would
feel free, (given the implicit permission granted by developmental
facilitation) to make the above interventions and quite possibly
unleash Hell. And if the group had the courage, they might get
through it and really solve the "problem" possibly
a much bigger problem and inherent solution than anyone had
* This material was adapted from "The Skilled
Facilitator," Roger Schwarz, Jossey-Bass Inc., 1994, wiith
permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
interested in hearing your perspectives on basic vs.
developmental facilitation. Will this information help you in
your role as a facilitator in the groups you work with? If so,
how? Please email
me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue
Ice-breakers for Facilitators.
Thank you to everyone who
sent in examples of probing questions to support groups engaged
in planning or problem-solving.
This week, we're asking you to send
us examples of any exercises you've used that
you've found particularly effective in "breaking the
ice" with groups to get them engaged with each other in a
spirit of creativity and play. We'll make all of these exercises
available to everyone who contributes at least one.
Please email your responses to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your help in making the MasterFacilitatorJournal.com
site the best facilitation resource site on the web!
FEATURE! Facilitator Profile**
Smith Facilitates community, teamwork, shared
governance, women's wisdom...
Once upon a time, I was
born a facilitator. Just lucky, I guess. As a child, I was
bossy, organized, productive and a leader, but always caring and
idealistic about my relationships. It really happened when I was
in high school. I finally started getting the self-confidence to
get in front of groups. Then, I lost it in college. I was
petrified. Then, in the course of doing my graduate work in
Counseling, I was forced to get back up in front of people and,
slowly over time, it became second nature to me. My point here
is that I think the art of facilitation can come and go
depending on how much you focus on your art and where you are in
regards to your own self-confidence. Facilitating becomes a way
of living your life.
I have had the most experience facilitating groups through
"personal/team growth" and "organizational
development" processes. It gives me such a thrill to see
groups move forward through chaos, and achieve a sense of team
or community. With more than 20 years working in Student
Services at the community college level, I had opportunities to
facilitate groups of staff and students through the process of
community- building, shared governance, and task-oriented
projects. Recently, along with two female friends, I have
created a Women's Wisdom Group in our community that meets four
times a year at the change of the seasons to gather and honor
our collective wisdoms. I am modeling the art and process of
facilitation. It is, again, a wonderful experience.
During this time, I have developed a stronger and stronger
vision about the importance of facilitation. It can provide a
laboratory, a safe place for both individuals and groups to
learn to relate in more healthy and productive ways. It has
tremendous potential to change the world, one person at a timeÖ
as in the facilitator and/or a participant, as in one group at a
time, as in one organization at a time. It can truly move us
towards more effective relationships, more functional families,
more democratic workplaces, and a more caring and compassionate
If you're interested in being considered for a profile in this
column, please email
me for guidelines. We look forward to hearing from you.
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 12th, for a FREE Facilitator Competency
me to set up an appointment anytime between 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 on:
- 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 queasy 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
me to set up an appointment 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!
Publisher, Editor, Coach