Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0267, August 29, 2006 ....
 

Dear friends,

I had a conversation with a colleague a couple of weeks ago about her desire to expand her facilitation skills. She recounted her recent work with a group that involved some very difficult and complex issues. Long story short, I came away with the questions "How do we know when we're being effective facilitators?" And, "How do we feel when we're being effective facilitators?" We explore these questions in this week's article, "What Does Success Feel Like?" I look forward to your thoughts on this provocative topic.


FacilitatorU.com News

The Facilitation Debates
Help us stir the proverbial pot. Check out the question of the week after the main article and send us your thoughts on it to stimulate debate and round out our perspectives on key topics.

Integral Facilitation R&D Teleconference
For the past three years, I've been thinking about how to map the art and science of facilitation into Ken Wilber's Integral Model. Over the past couple months, I've begun moving forward in my efforts to formulate this model and perhaps glean some new insights from it about achieving results in groups. You're invited to a roundtable teleconference on this model on September 18th cohosted by colleagues at the Integral Learning Community (ILC) at the University of Wisconsin. See details at the end of this issue.

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Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher

 
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The Point


What Does Success Feel Like?
A successfully facilitated session is often difficult to measure in the moment.

Self-Facilitation Skill

I had a conversation with a colleague a couple of weeks ago about her desire to expand her facilitation skills. She recounted her recent work with a group that involved some very difficult and complex issues. She told me that both during and after the session, she felt uncertain about what had happened and felt that she hadn't been all that effective.

Almost in the same breath, she told me that at least 80% of the group had considered their time spent as very effective. I probed further and she confided in me that she just didn't feel like she knew what she was doing with this group.

This turned into a very interesting conversation and got me thinking more deeply about two questions, "How do we know when we're being effective facilitators?" And, "How do we feel when we're being effective facilitators?"

Borrowing from the vocabulary of systems thinking, any collection of human beings gathered to work together can be characterized as a
complex, adaptive, self-organizing system. As facilitators, much of our job entails the design and maintenance of an environment and set of conditions that allow the system (group) to self-organize at ever higher levels of functioning. Another thing we know from systems theory, or chaos theory specifically, is that systems must disorganize and move through a period of chaos in order to provide them the freedom they need to reorganize at a higher, more evolved level of functioning.

Application


Ok, enough theory. Let's see how these insights apply to our work as facilitators, especially around our conceptions of how success looks and feels. While working with a group seeking to elevate its level of functioning, either explicitly, or implicitly by solving a problem, creating a plan to grow or improve, etc., then it's highly likely that the group will encounter some degree of chaos somewhere in the process. Chaos in groups can take many forms, from simple confusion to full out rebellion, and everything in between.

Whatever form it takes, when you're in chaos, you'll be "out of control" and you won't "know what you're doing," by definition! By most standards that we're accustomed to in the modern world, being "out of control" and not "knowing what we're doing" are very bad things. No wonder we want to correct these conditions when they occur as quickly as possible.

But, going back to what we know of chaos theory, letting go of control and being open to the unknown are prerequisites for change. Therefore, as change agents, doesn't it make sense for us to reevaluate our needs for control and knowing? I'm not saying that we shouldn't exert appropriate control during group processes and that we shouldn't strive to understand what's going on as best we can. What I am saying is that in helping a group move forward, there may be times when you'll feel lost and out of control. This doesn't mean that you'll be completely out of control nor completely lost. Just like rafting down white water, you have some ability to steer in the current and you also know that things will calm down eventually as you move down river.

So as we progress in our work with groups, let's move beyond our feelings of being in control and having things turn out as we planned as indicators of a job well done. Long lasting change enjoyed by a group sometimes comes from arduous work that may not always feel all that good nor make all that much sense in the moment. After all, change and innovation give birth to the unfamiliar. So doesn't it make sense that a looser grip on the familiar and a willingness to dance with mystery is necessary to give change a chance to unfold?

Action
 

What are your experiences around facilitating through chaos? How did you feel? What did you think? How did it turn out? I'd love to hear your thoughts, feelings, and stories on this subject. Please click reply and email your comments to me.

Let's Debate this one


My colleague and founder of the GFSC, Gilbert Brensen-Lazan, suggested I begin using this forum to stir the proverbial pot around questions of facilitation. As a veteran pot-stirrer myself, I gladly jumped on his suggestion. What we're doing then is presenting a new provocative question each issue. We'll ask for your thoughts and comments on it, then formulate articles based on your inputs in an effort to get broader views on complex subjects. Also, we'd love to hear your ideas for questions to consider for the future.

Our question this week is:

Should facilitators work for clients with questionable practices
(hire illegals, polluters, unethical practices, etc.)?

Please click reply and email your comments on this question to me. Those questions that garner adequate response will be converted to articles for future issues of this journal. Thanks for your interest and support!

Note to Publishers
 
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We grow by recommendation only when you find our material of use! If you enjoyed this issue, we'd love it if you'd spread the word. Click here to use our interactive form to tell your friends about MFJ, and as a thank you, you will receive our free Facilitator's Self Assessment.


In the Spotlight


Integral Facilitation: "Facilitating Optimal Results in Groups"
September 18, 2006, 2:30-4:30 PM Eastern

For the past three years, I've been thinking about how to map the art and science of facilitation into Ken Wilber's Integral Map. Over the past couple months, I've begun moving forward in my efforts to formulate this model and perhaps glean some new insights from it about achieving results in groups. My colleagues at the Integral Learning Community (ILC) at the University of Wisconsin are co-hosting a roundtable teleconference on this model on September 18th. Here are the details...

The focused effort of committed people in groups is an extremely powerful instrument. It has been engaged by social activists, harnessed by business, and inspired by politicians and poets. Over the past few decades, a method called facilitation has been evolving and showing up at town hall meetings, in board rooms, and in working groups throughout the worlds of business, government, industry, and education. All sorts of techniques, practices, and mindsets have been applied by the facilitator to aid in group cohesion and success. Facilitation, however, can not be reduced to flip charts, markers, or the latest slick process.

This session will describe and engage the Integral Learning Community (ILC) in Madison, WI with the possibility of integral facilitation: defining a comprehensive scope of facilitation to achieve optimal results in groups. Steve Davis and Darin Harris will help uncover the potential for a full systems approach to facilitation using Ken Wilber's "four quadrant" model.

During the first hour a descriptive teleconference will take place, while the second hour will allow more seasoned integral practitioners to delve deeper in the material. Find out more by visiting: www.integralfacilitation.com.

Registration. Click here and send a blank email to register for the call. The bridge line is limited to 50 callers so call in early to secure a spot on the call.

Schedule. The first hour of the call, from
2:30-4:30 PM Eastern, we'll present an Overview of the model as it stands. From 3:30-4:30 Eastern we'll engage in a group discussion and suggestions for continued development and use of the model.


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