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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0030| December 4, 2001
7,700 Subscribers

Group Awareness & Management Skill

Be a Mirror and a Catalyst

Facilitate Awareness, Responsibility, and Choice (ARC).

The Point?

If you want to solve a problem, become more effective, have your team work better together, or what have you, something must change, right? This change might involve your attitude, behavior, perspective, or all three.

In order to make a change, we must first become Aware of our current attitude, behavior, or perspective. In my experience, much of what we do as facilitators involves bringing individual and group behaviors and perspectives into present moment awareness. In other words, before you can be motivated to change something, you need to know what you are changing from.

The next step to changing a behavior or a situation requires that you "own" it as yours. This can be particularly difficult when one views a current behavior as distasteful or unattractive. In this case, people often "project" their own unacceptable behaviors onto others so as not to take personal Responsibility for them. Again, as facilitators you'll have abundant opportunities to facilitate ownership and responsibility for the actions and perspectives of individuals. 

Responsibility is an interesting concept which I believe you can approach from at least two different perspectives, both of which lead to results. 

First, once an individual has assumed responsibility for a given behavior or perspective, they then have the power to make another Choice.  Choosing and committing to a course of action facilitates change. 

Second, if the above perspective on responsibility doesn't fit, i.e. you don't see your role in the problem, then you can choose to be responsible for the solution anyway. If you do, then you've placed yourself in a position of strength and influence. Choosing to take responsibility for a solution also leads to action, and action leads to results. 

Either way you slice it, choosing to be responsible is a winning proposition. The question is, how do you get individuals and groups to accept responsibility? Again, it's all about choice. If you're not choosing to be responsible for either a cause or a solution, then you're choosing to wallow in the problem. As a facilitator, you can help your participants clearly see the choices they're making.


One of the biggest challenges groups tend to face is a reluctance to look for their responsibility in a given situation. We have all been raised in a victim/perpetrator culture where there must be someone to blame for each and every problem. And it's far easier to find fault outside oneself than to undertake a soul-searching mission.

However, if you can get a group to agree that a solution is more important than a scapegoat, then you can introduce the concept described above about choosing to take responsibility for the solution, rather than focusing on a cause. This approach encourages an ascension from the of fault-blame game to a  problem-solution paradigm.

Let's say you're working with a department in a service organization that is stymied by the lack of commitment from their line employees. They're getting lots of customer complaints about poor treatment and delayed service. There are also significant problems with retention and infighting within this group.  Management has called you in to train their staff in customer service and self-management competencies.

You decide it might be a good idea to interview management first to get more insight into the source of the problems. You find  many disempowering management practices in place that may be contributing to the unrest among the staff. You also suspect that management's treatment of the staff may be mirrored in how the staff is treating its customers.

This presents an opportunity for you to bring your observations into management's awareness. You ask them if they'd be willing to receive some feedback from you. If they respond affirmatively, you give them your perspective on the matter. If they're receptive to your feedback, you might ask them if they would be willing to explore how they may be responsible for some part of the problem themselves. You would then facilitate new choices they might make to do something about it. This might involve their attendance and involvement in the training they've requested for their staff.

If they are not receptive or willing to accept responsibility for their role in the problems, then you may either decide not to work with them and tell them why, or share your policy of only working with organizations who are committed to solving problems, not treating symptoms.


Your assignment this week is to practice using the ARC model on an individual or group. We're interested in hearing what you discover. Please email us about your experiences or if there's something we've missed, we'd love to get your perspective on it!

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Reader Survey 
As a Facilitator, what kinds of things do you do to facilitate participation?  

We'd appreciate your thoughts on the above question that might be valuable for other readers to know about. We may use your responses as a resource for future issues of the journal or for other works.  Please email us your responses. All those who respond will be sent the entire collection of responses. Thanks so much for your consideration of my request.

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About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to reach  their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. Or call me at 800-216-3854. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 

In the Spotlight


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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on December 11, 2001. 


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