Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0475, January 25, 2011

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Dear Friends,

This week's issue, Patternus Interruptus was originally published in February 18, 2003 and was dedicated to my friend and mentor, the late Thomas Leonard, who passed away February 11, 2003. Much of my inspiration and technological know-how behind this journal is a direct result of his tutelage and encouragement. He was a generous and creative genius, living his passion and his calling to the fullest.

His passing prompted in me the impulse to stop to ask some serious questions, Is what I'm doing really what I need to be doing?...What I want to be doing? Am I avoiding my true calling by staying busy with practical pursuits? If someone so young and vital can be here one day and gone the next, am I living my life such that it is complete enough for me to die tomorrow? These questions continue to be relevant for me today and perhaps for you as well. In this week's issue, I suggest tapping in to this sense of urgency to support your groups going deeper.

The Facilitator's Studio. I'm again working with Barry and friends to deliver a dynamic new three-day facilitator certification workshop based on his new book. We're delivering our second run of this workshop near the end of next month in Denver, Colorado that includes the practice of Facilitation Aikido and many other tools and practices that inform an extraordinary facilitator. Please see complete details here and consider attending and/or sharing this among your friends and colleagues. MFJ subscribers will receive a 10% discount.

If you or your colleagues are interested in submitting an article for consideration, please email your ideas. I'd love to hear from you. We hope our work continues to bring inspiration to your world. Thank you for being a part of our growing community and please continue to send your wonderful feedback.


Steve Davis



The Point

Patternus Interruptus
Don't be afraid to stop the process to realign your group to the fullness of its purpose.

Intervention Skill

Groups and individuals tend to follow habitual patterns of behavior that they've grown comfortable with out of habit. Therefore, there are times when it's appropriate to resist the groups momentum or inertia, to stop and look at the bigger picture, the "gestalt" of the group dynamic. As a facilitator, be on guard for patterns of behavior that are begging to be interrupted, and mine them for richer possibilities.


Here are some examples of opportunities to stop and dig deeper.

Settling. The group is settling for a marginal result to just "get it done," when they actually have the time, resources, and the opportunity to build a brilliant result by digging just a bit deeper, risking a little more, and stretching themselves a bit.

Conflict avoidance. Group members are withholding their truth to avoid potential conflict among group members. Use effective conflict resolution methods to turn this pungent soil so that something more beautiful can grow from it.

Business as usual. The group is getting things done in a way that tends to always work for them, but their process lacks "juice." Mix up the room and the process. Get people to change position, play different roles, try a different process, just to move into unexplored territory to see what emerges. Facilitate exploration, just for the fun of it.

Superficial focus. The group looks like they're on course, but it appears they may be operating on superficial assumptions or goals. Take time to help them look at the bigger reason for being together. Are they operating in accordance with their higher purpose, vision, mission?

Stale mental maps. The group is operating based on worn out assumptions about themselves. They may be fixated on solving a cost problem when they could be focused on creating new revenue. They could be stuck on what's not working rather than building and expanding on what is working. 

More? Please email us other examples you're run across in your experience.

Add Your Comments


Is there an area of your life that deserves a pattern interrupt? That is, a behavior pattern that is not as effective as it could be that you've been reluctant to stop and look at? If so, why not take ten minutes right now and journal about it? I'd love to hear what shows up for you. Please click on the Add Your Comments and tell us about it.

Expert Interview
barry shapiro

Facilitators Studio
What is Your Role in the Theatre of Facilitation?

An interview with Barry Shapiro, Extraordinary Facilitator and author of Casting Call In The Theatre of Corporate America

Barry Shapiro, author of Casting Call In The Theatre of Corporate America: The Role of The Extraordinary Facilitator believes that “All the world’s problems can be solved through effectively facilitated conversations.” Barry’s unique approach to facilitation blends foundational principles from organizational development and from acting and theatre.

Join Steve Davis and guest expert Barry Shapiro in this one-hour interview on Friday, January 28th at 10am Eastern (New York) Time where we’ll explore the following questions to help you integrate some of these principles into your own practice.

Click here for further details and registration

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Facilitator's Questions Collection
This 35-page collection contains 20 sets of questions grouped according to the many themes upon which groups typically focus.

Use these lists in preparation for working with a group or use them as catalysts for the development of your own questions. You can put this practical guide to use right away with your groups without hours of study and contemplation.

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