Master Facilitator Journal

Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0511, October 25, 2011

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Dear Friends,

It's funny that while I've written nearly five hundred articles over the years about facilitation, somehow I've never written one that succinctly answers the question, What is Facilitation? I figured it was time, especially since I also often get emails with this question as well. While there's no simple answer to this question, I'll do my best this week to give you my take on the essence of group facilitation and enthusiastically invite you to share your perspectives on the blog as well.
And by the way, this week's piece is adapted from our workbook that accompanies the JOFC workshop described below.

Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop (JOFC). Our Winter session of the JOFC Workshop is now open for registration! We'll be meeting the week of January 9th in Madison Wisconsin. Come and experience a rare opportunity to learn an Integrally Informed Approach to Facilitative Leadership essential in grappling with the increasingly complex issues we face today in business, industry, government, and education. Click here for details and registration.

It was painful, uncomfortable, exhilarating, thought-provoking, fun, courage-building,
emotional, tense at times, respectful always, life changing, safe, interesting and most of all,
an excellent journey.

--JOFC Workshop Participant--

This Meeting Sux available for ebook readers. This Meeting Sux: 12 Acts of Courage to Change Meetings for Good is now available for the Kindle and other ebook readers. Click here for details.

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 on this ezine and can better serve you.


Steve Davis


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The Point

What is Facilitation?

Because definitions can be helpful?

Self Mastery Skill

Facilitation as a discipline has been around since the 60’s and 70’s, and is used by organizational development consultants, facilitators, trainers, business coaches, project managers, meeting leaders, clergy, and other group leaders. Still, it’s not well known by the majority of people who meet every day in groups. Even among its practitioners, a clear definition and placement of this field within the larger field of human science is difficult to agree upon.

While any noteworthy accomplishment in this day and age takes the focused energy of committed groups, people working ineffectively together is the most often cited obstacle to finding solutions to problems.

Facilitation is now the technology of choice for improving the
effectiveness and efficiency of groups.

The above quote by Richard Weaver & John Farrell, authors of Managers as Facilitators, go so far as to say that…Facilitation is the most important role emerging in the modern workplace.

Speaking across centuries, a sage delivers timeless wisdom on the essence of leadership, and the spirit of facilitation…

A good leader is best when people barely know that he leads. A good leader talks little but when the work is done,
the aim fulfilled, all others will say,
“We did this ourselves.”

— Lao Tsu—

Facilitation, in its simplest form, is the act of helping groups to make a change as easily as possible. It’s about helping a group get from point A to point B where these points could represent any of the following:

Point A
Point B
Clear Plan
Order (or bound chaos)

One distinguishing feature of facilitation over that of other forms of leadership is that the facilitator does not come into the group with a pre-conceived solution or desired outcome. Instead, he or she leads the group to discover, clarify, and converge on their collectively desired outcomes.


Why Facilitation?

Much of our lives are spent working, playing, and being in groups. We enjoy dinner conversations around a well trimmed table, take-up a round of cards, suit-up for a Tuesday night soccer league, visit a park with our kids, or deliver a new product to a customer…all with the participation of others. Yet, how many of us take a moment to think about the deep well of potential contained in these groups? What would it take to really unleash this potential? How much more meaningful, impacting, and downright fun could our lives be if we could access the extent of this tremendous power?

As local and global challenges such as pollution, terrorism, global warming, nuclear threats, pandemics, etc., become increasingly complex and convoluted, unleashing the potential in groups is imperative.

So please tell us, what is facilitation to you and why is it important?

Add Your Comments


How will you incorporate these items into your planning for the facilitation of large groups? Have we missed anything? Just click on Add Your Comments to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic.

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