Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0388, Apr 7, 2009

Dear Friends,
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The more I study and practice facilitation as an art and as a science, the more complex it sometimes seems. I've learned from experience that holding complex ideas about something complex in my mind, enables me to sound smart in discussions about the topic. But it doesn't help me one bit in being a better practitioner, in fact, it often gets in the way. What does help sometimes is to have some very simple guiding principles, assumptions, or beliefs that I can easily fall back on if I feel the need.

One of our readers, Bob Trahan, sent me just such a gift--a very simple summary of core assumptions and beliefs he uses as a facilitator to help guide him in his work with groups.
He consented to let me share this with you (the bold text in the article contain his simple principles) with a few of my own explanatory embellishments included. Bob tells me that this list is influenced by some of the tenets of Open Space Technology and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Thank you Bob for your nice contribution to all of us!

New Format: Experiential Modules!
In an effort to dig deeper and offer more of a participatory experience, We're experimenting with a new format in my teleclass delivery. We'll begin offering a series of short, focused, and experiential modules on very specific skills for facilitators and trainers. Our first one is entitled: Facilitating Offline Partner Activities, to be conducted Thursday, April 16th.
This concise, one-hour module will offer you the opportunity to experience an Offline Partner Activity (OFA) and learn the pitfalls and procedures for effectively setting up and facilitating one yourself. See full details after the article below.

Our Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop scheduled for June is filling up fast...check out this opportunity to learn an Integrally Informed Approach to Facilitation and Leadership. Click here for details and registration.




experiential module

journey of collaboration

The Point

Useful Facilitation Assumptions and Beliefs

Clarify your core assumptions and beliefs about groups and your role as facilitator.

Group Dynamics Skill

Assumptions about groups

1. Whoever comes are the right people. The people who are motivated to show right now are the ones most willing and able to do the work at hand.

2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. If something else could have happened it would have.

3. All groups are unique, yet behave similarly. Noticing and anticipating common patterns is a useful tool for the group leader.

4. A group is more than the sum of the individuals. The whole point of group facilitation.

Core Beliefs:

1. We’re all in this together. So our focus shifts from the personal to the collective, on group task versus our personal agenda.

2. Everyone is doing the best they can at the moment. So view all their behaviors through the lens of compassion.

3. Everyone wants to do the right thing. So no matter how they're showing up, their deep intention is the same as yours.

4. The most obvious solution isn’t always the solution. Dig deep to uncover the core problem and find attached to it, a core solution.

5. Even though we use the same words, we don’t always mean the same thing. So don’t assume anything. So check out your perceptions and assumptions.

6. Time spent getting to know each other helps our understanding and ability to reach agreement. When we come to know each other, we become more seamless as a group. To back that up, research by Robert S. Hartman shows that on average, people tend to hold back 40% of their cooperation and productivity until they feel valued as human beings.


As a facilitator I act on these beliefs by:

1. Respecting the rights of individuals to their opinions. My job is more that of a mirror than a hammer.

2. Seeking to explore multiple options. There is always more than one way to do anything.

3. Encouraging dialogue to create shared meanings.
Shared meanings lead to shared understanding which leads to share solutions.

4. Spending time making connections and building bridges. Relationships become a currency that never deflates.

About our contributor. Robert N. Trahan, Jr. is an organizational and group facilitator with over twenty years of work in the public and private sector, and a strong background in education. He has a Bachelor’s in Psychology, a Master’s in Special Education, and has completed doctoral work in instructional design.


What are your assumptions and beliefs about groups and facilitation? Is there anything that you'd like to add or change in the list above. How will these change the way you show up with groups? I'd love to hear from you. Send me your comments by replying to this email.

This Week's Offer

experiential moduleExperiential Module Course

Facilitating Offline Partner Activities

One of the benefits of live meetings and workshops is the ability to have small groups working at the same time with one another to explore ideas, problems, solutions, learning, and more. This approach not only allows groups to go deeper into collaborative possibilities, it also tends to build intimacy throughout the entire group as participants have one-on-one time with each other. Virtual environments don’t generally lend themselves to asynchronous activities like small group activities. However, we’ve found a way to incorporate them.

We’ve had great success pairing people up into groups of two in many of our teleclasses. Participants often comment that this is one of the most useful things they learn in our classes and are often surprised at how easy and effective these activities can be if you know how to set them up and run them.

What to expect during this session. This concise, one-hour module offers you the opportunity to experience an Offline Partner Activity (OFA), and learn the pitfalls and procedures for effectively setting up and facilitating one yourself. This succinct one-hour laser session will cover the following:

- Benefits of Partner Activities. The value that can be achieved by a virtual group participating in OFA's.

- Activity Preparation.
Learn what needs to be done before the meeting to ensure that the activity comes off without a hitch.

- Initiating Activity. How to set the stage for a successful OFA.

- Large Group Debrief. What to do after the activity to harvest the greatest value from it.

- Activity Type. Types of activities that lend themselves to this format.

- Do An Activity. Actually participate in an OFA watching how we execute all the steps.

- Lessons Learned. Review the lessons you learned from the module and get answers to any questions you have about moving forward with your own activity.

What do you get? Here's what comes with the cost of this module:

- Active participation in the course above.
- Viewgraphs used during the presentation.
- Summary sheet that lists all the steps you need to take to set up and conduct your own flawless Offline Partner Activity.
- A recording of the call and webinar.

Format. This course is conducted over a telephone bridge line and webinar platform. The webinar connection is optional as view graphs will be provided prior to the call that can be printed as a backup option.

When? This class will be held on Thursday, April 16th from 10am-11am Pacific (1pm Eastern).

Cost. The cost of the above course is $39. If you are a FaciliatorU member, the cost is $29. If you are a member, contact us for the coupon code if you haven't already received it.

Click below to register and full details for class participation will arrive in your inbox. Membership Option

Become a member of and receive option 1 and a host of other items and benefits at an incredibly discounted price. An exceptional value. Click here for 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. This policy completely removes the buying risk for you and keeps our customer-satisfaction rates extremely high.
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