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The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0078 | November 5, 2002
5,500 Subscribers

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

From the Publisher: 
Hello MFJ Readers. This issue explores a fascinating approach to facilitation called "graphic facilitation," developed by The Grove Consultants International. Be sure to visit their website packed with great facilitation resources and information.

We've also decided to share the concept for "FacilitatorVille," a new Virtual University for facilitators that's in the works. Please review the info provided below. We'd love to hear your comments and ideas on it.

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


Facilitating with Pictures
A picture says a thousand words. How are facilitators using them to help their groups see the bigger picture?

The Point

Getting people to work together effectively is one of the biggest leadership challenges in today's organizations. Leaders have to know how to gain the active participation and committed support of team members who are often involved in other work that competes for their attention. Facilitation is the art of getting people to work together effectively.

Graphic facilitation brings the power of pictures and visual thinking to the meeting room. Graphic facilitators use a whole "keyboard" of strategies (the Group Graphics™ Keyboard) to make group process visible so that people can see what they are doing. Participation, systems thinking and continuity are some of the consistent results-along with real increases in productivity and the joy of creative work.


Graphic language, like music, has predictable, dynamic characteristics when it is used, or "played", quite apart from the specific content. These patterns flow from the process of creating the display, and the process needed to read it. At the Grove we've found that all variations are reflections of seven, archtypal patterns which are laid out in the Group Graphics™ Keyboard from simple to most complex. Learning these is a key to improvising actively with graphic language. They are:

Posters - which focus on a point
Lists - which generate a flow of points
Clusters - which active spatial comparisons of points or lists
Grids - which cross formal categories of information
Diagrams - which grow understanding through branching
Drawings - which animate meaning through metaphor
Mandalas - which show unity by centering all information

Each pattern is an artifact of the active process of creating it and has a built-in power which makes it more useful for some purposes than others. For instance, single images focus attention and are great for title posters. Lists flow in a linear fashion, and are therefore excellent for brainstorms and action lists. Clusters create a "space" where items are juxtaposed near each other, without connections. This invites the viewer to explore potential links and compare items.

Facilitators use the keyboard to think through a meeting or process design much like a composer might think about music, matching the formats to the different objectives of each stage. Since the simpler formats can nest into the more complex ones, there are many combinations and variations which is why graphic facilitation is such a rich, improvisational form. 

Adapted from Grove Consultants International. Go to to learn more about their approaches to facilitation and check out their secure online store of facilitation products and other tools.


How might you use graphic facilitation, or at least more graphics in your facilitation to be more effective with your groups?  I'd love to hear what happens for you. Please email me your comments.

Grove Consultants International

The Grove Consultants International is a process-consulting firm that teams with organizations and communities to achieve results through effective collaboration. They have pioneered the use of graphic techniques that stimulate participation, focus big-picture thinking, enhance group memory, and win commitments. The Grove partners with clients on projects, conducts training workshops, designs communications media, and publishes graphic process tools and templates. Click here to check out their website.

cartoon image of a talking man.

Reader Survey 

Styles of facilitation vs. Myers-Briggs type.

We're wondering if any of you familiar with the Myers-Briggs temperament profile have used it to correlate facilitator Myers-Briggs type with facilitation style. In other words, how does an INFP facilitate differently than an ESFJ? Is one type better than another depending on the type of facilitation that needs to be done? Does one type do better under certain conditions, with certain types of groups, etc.? We are interested in hearing anything you know on this subject. Please email me your responses and I'll send you all of those I receive.

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


An information and training resource for people who work with groups.



The Concept

The idea for a Virtual University for Facilitators has been germinating for some time. It's now time to explore the level of interest that might exist around this offering. 

A Request

We've outlined some proposed features of such a program that we'd appreciate receiving your feedback on. Please review these features and answer the following questions:

1. Would this kind of service be of value to you? If so, would you consider using it?

2. Would a membership concept be an attractive option? In other words, would it make sense to offer a yearly membership at a fixed fee to access all available services versus charging for them separately?

3. If you were interested in this service, what price would you be willing to pay on an annual basis that would make the following features such an incredible value that you wouldn't hesitate?

Please reply to ../contact.html. Thanks for your help!

FacilitatorVille Features

Access to a special resource database and search engine that includes:
($50 value)
100+ questions to ask in facilitation grouped by purpose.
100+ exercises grouped by group purpose.
Ecourses on various aspects of facilitation.
Article Bank of over 100 articles on various facilitation topics.
Other tools added continuously.

Teleclasses covering topics such as:
($1200 value)
Facilitator Training Courses
Fresh and innovative Facilitation topics by varied professionals in the field.
Monthly Integrity Days
Monthly Facilitator’s Roundtable Forum

IAF membership discount (approximately 20%) ($25 value)

Portable article bank collection 
50 MFJ lessons (just the text, no ads) grouped by competency and available as ebook (pdf) or on CDRom. 

One free display ad in the MFJ per year ($45 value)

Directory listing with your photo and audio intro in Facilitator Services Directory. ($50 value)

Discounts of 30% on various resources: ($100)
Various leading Books on facilitation.
Facilitator tools and training programs
Others added continuously.


Please send your comments to ../contact.html. Thanks for your help!

Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on November 12, 2002.   

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