Hello MFJ Readers. This issue explores the various roles
facilitators may be called to fill in their work with groups,
roles such as coach, teacher, trainer, and mentor. We look at
how each of these roles differ and discuss how we might apply
them at different times to be more effective as a facilitator.
Please visit the Reader Survey section and let me know what you
think of my plan to "collect
stories from the edge."
Finally, please check out the new Portable Article Bank in the
Spotlight Section that I just released this week. This should be
of great use to those of you who train facilitators, or for
anyone in an organization seeking to educate your peers or
subordinates in skills that can help them work together more
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!
as Coach, Teacher, Trainer ...
Can facilitators be more
effective crossing the boundary into other roles?
As facilitators, I think most of us
will agree that our foremost role is this: to be the
"keeper of the process." Yet from a practical
standpoint, we will often be called to edge over slightly into
roles better described by terms such as coach, teacher, trainer,
and mentor. How you may ask do these roles differ? Let's take a
Facilitation as it's normally understood, refers to managing and maintaining
a group process. The primary focus of the facilitator is on
"how" things are going in the group. The facilitator
will help the group to stick with their ground rules and
guidelines that bound the process they have agreed to use to get
to some end result.
Coaching is typically practiced with individuals, and
tends to be bit more directive than facilitation. Coaching
focuses on helping individuals get into immediate action, while
addressing barriers and support they may need to get moving
quickly. Coach usually asks more of the group than pure
Facilitation--often challenging the group to produce more or be
Group Coaching supports individuals who are part of
groups with common interests or issues. While coaching
focuses on individuals in the group, the remainder of the group receives
indirect benefit from witnessing individuals being coached.
Training requires that the trainer have specific
knowledge in the subject of the training. The job of the trainer
is to impart knowledge or skills to her students using a variety
of methods at her disposal. Effective trainers will often employ
facilitation and coaching skills. Note that facilitators and
coaches don't necessary have experience in, nor do they focus
on, the technical content in which their clients are involved.
Teaching tends to be more didactic. In other words,
teachers instruct and inform their students, very much like the
process I'm using right now. I'm basically telling you what I
think and how I see the subject matter before us.
Mentoring involves instructing, guiding, coaching someone
seeking to master a particular field that you have already
mastered. Though mentoring is very "content" focused,
it will also often employ teaching, training, and coaching as
So in summary, for the purposes of clarity, we could say that
facilitation and coaching focus more on the "who" and
the "how," where teaching, training, and mentoring
focus more on the "what."
Please understand that the roles we
defined above are discreet terms that address aspects of a
continuum of skills and approaches. Very seldom does anyone
adhere to any one individual role, never crossing, even a
little, into a related role.
For example, a facilitator working with a group who passed up an
opportunity to coach an individual seeking to a take an action
they've been stuck on would be doing the individual and the
group a great disservice. Assuming first of course that the
individual consented to the coaching.
We're suggesting here that knowing and practicing the role of
coach, teacher, trainer, or mentor may be appropriate at times,
within the context of facilitation. And may in fact
substantially increase your effectiveness as a
So how does one know when to cross into these other roles? I
believe that knowing how to dance is partly an art, and partly
having clarity and understanding with your client on their goals
and the best approaches to employ that they are willing to use
to get there.
For example, a client seeking your services as a facilitator to
help improve teamwork in their organization may employ your
services to facilitate team-building. To help individuals become
better team players, you may need to coach them individually
around how their behaviors are impacting the team either pro or
con. You may need to "teach" them the attributes of an
effective team and team player. You may need to train them in
the skills held by good team players. You may need to provide an
environment where enough trust is facilitated so that they feel
safe sharing their fears that are keeping them from showing up
as a more effective team player.
You may already be dancing between roles as a facilitator
without really thinking about it. And frankly, I think that's
the goal. To seamlessly show up in a way that best facilitates
the results your client is after. Hopefully gaining clarity
about the roles will help you fill in any gaps that may be
present. I'm interested in hearing
your thoughts on this topic.
the roles above and assess how many of them you play in your
work. Would embracing a different mix of these roles improve
your effectiveness in any way? If so, how? I'd
love to hear what happens for you. Please email
me your comments.
As a Subversive Activity
by Neil Postman,
Quite simply one of the most thought-provoking books I have
ever read. However hard it is to get a copy, it is MUST reading
for anyone involved in educating people. Heavily influenced by
McLuhan, this book is devastating in showing what classrooms
REALLY teach - that there is one right answer, that the teacher
has it, that memorizing facts is important, that fellow students
have nothing to contribute, etc etc - and how to construct an
environment in which REAL learning takes place - where people
learn how to learn themselves. This is one of those books that
shakes one's previously-unexamined foundational assumptions of
education. I cannot recommend it too highly
Emerging from self-imposed exile in virtual reality.
I'm contemplating a
world (or at least U.S.) tour. This is kind of a soul-seeking, joy-seeking, magical
mystery tour in dialogue with live people in the "real" world after my 2+
years in exile into the virtual world.
Why am I doing this?
To collect Stories from the edge...what cultural creatives are doing to
create lives on their own terms and to shift the culture toward
a sustainable future.
I'm wanting to survey those people who consider themselves to be Cultural
Creatives...people on the forefront of creating a cultural shift impacting
the way we live and how we see ourselves on this planet. I want to hear your
story, probe, interview, play, and document my journey and the stories I
receive. With the intention that the bigger story that reveals itself
through my travels might inform us with just another piece of the path we're
building toward a sustainable future and of our full potential as human beings.
- Life story and contribution to personal transformation of self and
others Facilitating Magic in everyday life.
- Alternative communities, alternative architecture, empowering ways
of life and living.
- Voluntary simplicity...creating healthy lifestyles in the Taker
- Corporate Freedom, living in but beyond the corporate system;
self-sustaining entrepreneurs free of corporate wage slavery.
- Stories of Psychic, para or super-normal functioning.
- Stories and insights into consciousness expansion and development
via ritual, technological, or other means.
- Listen to your story...and help you reflect on the story you're actually
- Facilitate magic in your life today via a day-long
- Facilitate a group of cultural creatives in your community for
a discussion on the state of their lives, the world, and what's next.
- Speak to groups on the subject of my journey, what I'm seeing,
- Talk on "The Authentic Marketer" material.
- Talk on "Just making stuff
up--surrendering to your inner creator," material.
- Talk on Daniel Quinn material and what it means to us today.
Will probably begin this journey
early next year and am just putting this feeler out for now. Please email
if you have any interest in visiting with me,
sponsoring me, or introducing me to someone you know who may be
interested in meeting with me, or have further suggestions,
questions, or comments on this idea.