Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0391, Apr 28, 2009

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This week we explore the nature of "Facts," where we explore how facts can serve as models of reality and how as facilitators, we can help others use them, instead of being used by them.

Facilitating the Experiential Learning Cycle, Thursday, May 7th.
This concise, one-hour module will offer you the opportunity to experience the Kolb Learning Cycle and learn how to effectively facilitate it yourself in your workshops and trainings. See full details at the end of this issue.

New Teleconference
Technology. I wanted to tell you about a new and exciting development in teleclass technology that is now emerging and invite you to a free demonstration. A company called Maestro Conference has developed a telephone bridge technology that allows the leader to easily create and manage breakout groups (diads, triads, small groups) using a simple computer interface.

For those of us interested in facilitating virtually, this new technology has the possibility of enabling a much higher level of involvement, commitment, and collaboration during virtual training and among virtual teams. I will be running a one-hour demo of this technology next Thursday, April 30th at 10am Pacific. There is no fee for this class. Click here to register.

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




experiential learning cycle

The Point

Just the Facts!
Understand that facts aren't the truth, simply the boundaries of our inquiry

Presenting Skill

We've all been taught from the very beginning about the sacred importance of facts. "Know your facts. Get your facts straight. Let's just stick with the facts here! Just the facts ma'am" Many of us pride ourselves on operating on facts versus other half-baked ideas, sentiments, or opinions. But have you ever inquired into the nature of facts? Just what the heck is a fact anyway? Since I have a penchant for irreverence, I decided to explore this fact thing. Here's what I found.

Fact (fakt) n. 1. Information presented as objectively real. 2. A real occurrence; an event. 3. Something having real, demonstrable existence. 4. A thing that has been done.

The first definition above, taken from the American Heritage Dictionary, indicates that a fact is information presented as objectively real. I find the "presented" piece particularly important. Because as we move through life, I think many of us forget about this aspect of facts. When something is presented as a fact, we usually buy it as such.

I remember a striking lesson I received on this issue in one of my teleclasses a few years ago. In a role-play, one of the participants presented information that we all accepted as factual. We accepted it as fact because he presented it as fact, and by virtue of the strength of his conviction, his articulation of the information, and his energy and presence. It took us a few minutes to realize that he had just made this stuff up. Had we not been doing an exercise to reveal assumptions, we would have probably bought these "facts."

Here, let me share some "real" facts with you. Some of these are a little dated so please bear with me. Dated? What do you mean dated? Facts are always facts. Right? Well, let's just see about that.

The earth is flat. Stay away from the edge lest you perish into oblivion.
The earth is 25,000 miles in circumference.
The sky is blue.
The Republican party is conservative.
Earth is the home of intelligent life.
Human beings can't travel faster than 15 mph and survive.
The Democratic party likes to tax and spend.
Human beings are imperfect.

Let's take the obvious fact that the earth is 25,000 miles around. This assumes a perfectly smooth surface. As we look closer at the planet's surface, we notice many peaks and valleys. If measured the true distance around the planet by traversing the actual surface over mountains and valleys and sea floors, we would find a circumference far greater than 25,000 miles. If we were to look even closer, and we measured actual surfaces at the molecular level, this number would grow still larger. In fact (no pun intended), if we were to measure the span of our planet at the level of subatomic particles we would find the circumference of the earth to be almost infinite. Strange, but true.

If we were to examine each of the "facts" above to this level of detail, I'm afraid they would each come apart like week-old cornbread.

My conclusion then is this. Facts are our inquiry boundaries. Fancy words for the point where we stop checking our assumptions. And we ALWAYS make assumptions about everything. And that's a fact! Even our sciences are based on mountains of assumptions. I was struck as a young engineering student when I learned that we'd be practically paralyzed to design anything if we didn't make assumptions and approximations in every equation and theory we used.

Models of reality are useful. But only if we understand that they are only models. Facts, I believe are models too. Just as even the words we use are symbols pointing to meaning. As meaning-makers, let us not mistake the map for the territory.


As always, we must now ask the question, how can we use this information as facilitators?

Be conscious of the fact that facts are simply well-proven or widely agreed upon assumptions.

Help groups examine or unravel the "facts" underlying any problem or opportunity they're pursuing in order to expose underlying assumptions.

Know that we use facts to help us feel secure. They often serve as life rafts for the fearful. Deflate them slowly and with compassion.

Know that facts, end discovery and inquiry. If you've developed elegant solutions and plans that the group is happy with, then wonderful, their assumptions are probably effective ones. If a path is unclear, try unraveling some facts for awhile.

If facts get in the way of your fantasy, make up new facts to support your dream and ask what it would take to bring these facts into existence.

Beware of "human facts machines." Encourage them to go on standby, just for awhile to humor your exploration into a world where facts no longer exist--just to see where it leads you.


This week, question the facts that make up your world. What would happen if they weren't as concrete as you think they are? Would you be inspired to do or be something different? I'd love to hear you're perspectives on this. Please send me your comments by replying to this email.

This Week's Offer

experiential learning cycleExperiential Module Course
Facilitating the Experiential Learning Cycle

As teachers and trainers, you've probably noticed that people really learn better through "experience" than by simply listening to talk about theory or practice. For almost any situation, you can develop an experience to either instruct or model the learning you're trying to facilitate.

A learning facilitation model I've used consistently is one called the "Kolb Learning Cycle". I find this cycle very useful in the design and presentation of my trainings, both F2F and virtual. It starts by providing an experience, the processing of which can elicit learning on all levels--physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual--and automatically accommodates the different perceptual and processing styles without having to perform any up front assessments.

What to expect during this session. This concise, one-hour module offers you the opportunity to experience an Kolb Learning Cycle, the theory behind it, and the procedures for effectively setting up and facilitating this cycle yourself. This succinct one-hour laser session will cover the following:

- Benefits of the Kolb Learning Cycle. The value that can be achieved by facilitating your trainings and events in using this cycle.

- Summary of Learning Theory behind the Kolb Learning Cycle.
We'll briefly discuss the Kolb Learning Theory that underlies the Kolb Learning Cycle.

- Activity Preparation. Learn what needs to be done before the activity to ensure that it comes off smoothly.

- Experience an Activity. Experience a group activity as a participant using the Kolb Learning Cycle.

- Large Group Debrief. We'll discuss and explore how each element of the cycle is applied.

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

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 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, May 7th from 10am-11am Pacific (1pm Eastern).

Cost. The cost of the above course is $29. If you are a FacilitatorU member, the cost is $19. 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.

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. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case. Membership Option

Become a member of premium member and receive this self-guided teleclass at half price in addition to a host of other items and benefits. An exceptional value. Click here for details.

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