What’s the core of facilitation?


July 11th, 2007

I’ve been reading ‘Made to Stick’ by Chip and Dan Heath. Their premise is that ideas that last ie are sticky, are ones that are understandable, memorable and effective in changing thought or behaviour. They explore six principles that underpin ‘stickiness’:
– Find the core
– Get attention/surprise/unexpected then hold attention/interest
– Make concrete: help people understand and remember
– Be credible – help people believe
– Tap into emotions – make people care
– Use stories to get people to act

This book has really helped me understand that we facilitators are often our own worst enemies when it comes to promoting what we do, how we do it, and why it’s important. They explore the ‘curse of knowledge’ where if you know something (eg facilitation) it’s hard to remember what it’s like to not know and therefore can fall into the trap of talking at a level that makes no sense to others. Experts, they contend, often talk about theories and use language that is quite abstract. Guilty, your honour. They also suggest that it’s hard to pin down the core of something because it requires rigorous prioritisation and discarding of lots of really good bits to expose the core.

Here’s my question:

How can we describe facilitation in concrete terms that captures the absolute essence, or core, of what facilitation is?

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