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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0076 | October 22, 2002
5,500 Subscribers

picture of Steve Davis, editor of the Master Facilitator Journal.

From the Publisher: 
Hello MFJ Readers. This issue explores the concept of Dynamic Facilitation to help groups achieve transformations beyond simply helping them solve their problems or to make decisions.  We'd like to thank Jim Rough for submitting this article.

If you or your colleagues are interested in submitting an article for consideration, please email your ideas. I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for reading!
Steve Davis


Dynamic Facilitation
 Using facilitation to move beyond mere problem-solving and decision-making

The Point

What is Dynamic Facilitation?

The best way to reach consensus is when there is a breakthrough, where a new result suddenly appears that everyone is excited about. This result need not take a long time; it can happen in an instant. Also, breakthroughs have other benefits, like building trust, forging community, generating empowerment. It's fun. Everyone feels involved and everyone's are appreciated.

Most meetings and facilitators do not aim toward this -- toward breakthroughs. Rather than building on group energy and supporting head and heart creativity, they aim to "keep people on task" or to follow some step-by-step process, and to stay logical. The result is often the opposite of what they want—more wasted time going in circles, poor results, and hard feelings. The Dynamic Facilitator helps people think at their highest level—"choice-creating" rather than "decision-making," "problem-solving" or "creative thinking". When people think at that level, groups are truly self-organizing, empowered to address difficult issues, and they experience rapid progress via breakthroughs.


Seeking the Appropriate Level of Thinking

Four levels of thinking are shown in the chart below, each associated with a particular model for how change happens. Generally, facilitators focus on one model of change only, helping groups address issues at that level. The Dynamic Facilitator helps people use the most appropriate level of thinking—which is often the highest level, Choice-creating, where there is the greatest opportunity for breakthroughs.


Levels of Thinking Models of Change

Level 0: Reacting ... Determined by the circumstances. No model of change.

Level 1: Decision-making ... Using a set of standards to separate good from bad. It's choosing the best option from a selection.

Level 2: Problem-solving ... Seeking to really understand the causes to problems and to determine high leverage solutions. It's being able to control change by setting goals and measuring progress.

Level 3: Creative thinking ... Envisaging a desired future and relying on unconscious forces to make it manifest. Brainstorming and appreciative inquiry are examples.

Level 4: Choice-Creating ... Addressing important issues creatively, with open minds and hearts. Win/win breakthroughs are the natural result as well as increased trust and the spirit of community.

The Dynamic Facilitator will often list possible solutions, concerns, data, and problem-statements as a way to value all people and all comments.

Written b: Jim Rough, consultant, speaker, seminar leader and author. Since 1990, he has presented four-day seminars in Dynamic Facilitation Skills, where people from around the world are facilitated to engage different ideas creatively, address societal issues, and achieve breakthrough insights. He is a long-time faculty member of annual Creative Problem Solving Institutes and an ongoing explorer in the field of Jungian psychology. Visit his website at


Try implementing "choice creating" this week instead of falling back to a problem-solving, creative thinking, or decision-making approach. I'd love to hear what happens for you. Please email me your comments.

Dalai Lama's Book of Transformation
by Dalai Lama,

Our state of mind, in terms of our attitudes and emotions, plays a crucial role in shaping the way we experience happiness and suffering. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, offers simple advice on how to work with negative emotions (such as anger) and strengthen positive emotions (such as altruism and compassion). He shows us practical ways to transform our hearts and minds and create the happiness we seek.

cartoon image of a talking man.

Reader Survey 

What questions would you ask to assure that a meeting is effective, either before, during or after?

This week, we're asking you
think about questions you might ask yourself to help you keep meetings on target, either as a facilitator or as a participant. Here are some examples. "Do we have a clear agenda for this meeting? Are we on course or drifting? Is someone in charge of this meeting? etc." Please email me them to me and I'll send the entire collection to those who contribute.

If you know someone who might benefit and enjoy this newsletter, please send this link to a friend.

About the Author
Steve Davis is a Facilitator's Coach helping leaders enhance their effectiveness through the application and perspective of facilitation. Please email or call me at 805-489-4130 to schedule a Free exploratory session, or to share your suggestions and ideas for the journal. 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


Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on October 29, 2002.   

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