Master Facilitator Journal, the ezine for facilitators.


Skill of the Week


The Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0017 | September 4, 2001
5,500 Subscribers

Self-Mastery Skill

The Process is Yours, the Product is Theirs.

The main task of the facilitator is to help the group increase its effectiveness by improving its process.

The Point?

The fundamental assumption of the facilitator is this: If we can improve group process, we can improve the group's ability to solve problems and make decisions. I think facilitators, particularly new ones, get hung up sometimes thinking that they are responsible for the outcome of a group's efforts. If you are operating as a true facilitator, your job starts and ends with the development and maintenance of a healthy facilitative process appropriate to the product the group desires. Process refers to how a group works together. Their product could be the solution to a problem, a plan of action, a deeper more effective working relationship between group members, etc. But whatever the product, the group is responsible for delivering it, not you. In fact, if a facilitator is expert in the group's content, they must guard against the temptation to intervene in that content, which might distract them from attending to group process, and from maintaining their neutrality. 


Suppose you are facilitating a group that is interested in improving their customer service. Discussions around creating and implementing ideas to get more feedback from customers, improving the relating skills of front-line employees, improving systems to provide faster more efficient service, etc. are all discussions about "content." 

Your job is to listen to this conversation for "how" group members are relating and working together. In this exchange, you might notice that one gives answers without acknowledging others, that people talk over one another, that incorrect assumptions are being made, that resulting faulty inferences are drawn, that the body language of certain individuals is speaking louder than words, yet it is never put into words. These are examples of process that constitute fertile terrain on which you can intervene to help the group improve their communication process, problem-solving process, decision-making process, etc. Any of which have the potential of making the group more effective.


The next time you are involved in a meeting, observe and distinguish between elements of the meeting content and the meeting process. Write down at least their process observations that, if improved, might contribute to the groups' effectiveness. Iím interested in hearing about your experience. Please email me your thoughts, stories, and experiences on this issue.

cartoon image of a talking man.

Reader Survey 
Probing Questions for Facilitators--REWARD Offered!
Thank you Sybil Stershic for your request for probing questions to support groups engaged in planning or problem-solving.

The idea of providing lists of laser questions for facilitators to support and expedite various tasks in which their groups are engaged is a good one. Categories of effective questions are among the resources I'd like to provide at our site. So we're asking your help on this. Please send us questions that you've found particularly effective in moving groups forward engaged in planning or problem-solving.  Anyone sending in 20 or more questions will receive a Free copy of the book, "The Art of Facilitation."  Here are some examples:

- What are the facts around the current situation as it stands right now?
- Who needs to be involved in this plan for it to be successful?
- Would you define this problem so that a six-year old could understand it?
- If this problem were already solved, what would the situation look like?

Please email your responses to me at Thanks! Thanks for your help in making the site the best facilitation resource site on the web!

image of the Master Facilitator Journal forum.

Interactive Forum
Creating Dialogue With Our Readers
In an effort to stimulate discussion on facilitation tips, tools, and processes that are relevant to your interests, we'd like to hear from you. Please post your answers to the questions at on our interactive forum to stimulate discussion on these topics, or simply send me your feedback and I'll post it here or at the forum. Here is a recent request from one of our readers:

The one thing that I think would be of value to me is hearing about some of the challenges other facilitators have had within their groups and how they were resolved, or what outcomes resulted because of a certain action. Thank you --Rose Jenic, from Canada.

Please email your responses to and I will post your answers at our forum. Or, if you have questions yourself, please email them to me and we'll post them here. Thanks. We look forward to hearing from you.

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About the Author: 
Steve Davis is a Business and Life Coach facilitating others to stretch beyond their full potential in their business and personal lives. Please email your stories, comments, suggestions, and ideas. I'd love to hear from you. If you find this newsletter helpful, please forward it to your friends. Thanks for reading! 

A Special Message to You
I'm regularly receiving requests from readers for some type of facilitator training that they can take at a distance. In response to this interest, I'm putting together a distance learning program on facilitation. To put together a course that provides you the most value, I need to begin to dialogue and work with more of you on the real-world challenges you're having in the field of facilitation. Therefore, to gather input for myself and as a gift to you, my devoted readers, I'm offering the following:

FREE Facilitator  Competency Day!

Free 10-minute Laser Competency Call
Come Join me this Wednesday, September 5th, for a FREE Facilitator Competency Day!

Call me at anytime from 2-4 PM Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) for a quick ten-minute coaching session on one of the facilitator competencies you are having trouble with or would like to enhance. Here are some examples of things you might come to work on:

- I need help figuring out what it means for me to be a facilitator. 
- I have a difficult time being in the present when I'm in front of people.
- I have so much performance anxiety that I get queezy when I have to "perform."
- What does it means to be a great facilitator?
- I have weak personal boundaries so my energy is always sapped.
- I'm under so much stress that I find it difficult to be effective.

- How do I better connect with and engage the group?
- I don't really respect the people I'm working with, what do I do?
- How do I challenge people without being rude?
- How can I become a really great listener? 

- How do I intervene to facilitate the process within a group that I do not lead?
- How do I intervene on annoying personal behaviors that are holding the group back?
- How do I know when to intervene?
- How do I get people more involved in the meetings?
- How can we make better use of our time in the meetings?

- I can't stand the company I'm working for and I feel trapped. Help!

- I have a  big challenge I'm up against right now. What do I do?

- All questions and concerns are welcome...

Refine facilitation competencies that you're having trouble with.
Brainstorm ways to enhance your effectiveness as a facilitator in your organization, classroom, work group
Get help handling a problem, challenge, or opportunity you're facing right now.

Prior to this call, please review  the Facilitator Competency Assessment to select those competencies you'd like to discuss. Come prepared with one or two competencies you'd like to enhance or discuss. Write down three things you'd like to leave the call with before you dial in.

Call me anytime between the hours of 2-4PM PDT at 805-489-4130. If the line is busy or if there is no answer, I'm probably on the line with someone else. Please just wait 10 minutes and call back or leave your name and number and I'll call you right back when I'm finished.

I look forward to helping you make a leap forward on Wednesday!

Warmest Regards,

Steve Davis
Editor, Publisher, Coach

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Thank you for reading this issue of the Master Facilitator Journal.  Look for your next issue on Sept 11, 2001. 

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