Facilitation: We did it ourselves

January 14th, 2008

Here’s the next in a series of random pics I’ve selected from Visual Explorer.


When I first looked at this I didn’t see a whole lot relating to facilitation, so I left it where I would glance at it and over a couple of days, and gradually it became clear. This pic depicts the end of a hard day’s work. The sun is setting, the harvest has been collected and the people appear happy with each other and their achievement. This is what I strive for when facilitating with groups. It may be difficult at times – what Sam Kaner describes as the ‘groan zone’ can indeed be tiresome for participants and facilitator. Yet struggling through the morass into a space where the possibilities emerge can be very rewarding. And best of all is when the group feels they have achieved this themselves – which of course they have as I bring no content, only process, to bear.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion – I usually have very strong opinions. What I do know though is that it’s not my place, when facilitating, to share those opinions unless I think they can add to the process. I once trained as a journalist. This meant learning the difference between being objective and subjective, which is also different from writing subjectively or objectively. I believe the ‘objective human’ is an oxymoron. The very fact of being human means that our emotions, our backgrounds, our experiences, our values, even our likes and dislikes affect they way we view the world and how we act. And how we write. And how we facilitate.

So a key principle for me to keep in mind when I’m facilitating is ‘it’s all about them’ – the group and their achievements are what’s important.

2 Comments so far

  1. Gillian Hayman on January 21, 2008 6:22 pm

    You & your strong opinions struck a chord with me Viv! I have them too! I facilitated a voluntary decision making session in our community last week which tested my ability to remain objective. I had a strong opinion on the subject matter – as facilitator I set myself the challenge not to put this forward but to a run a process to assist the community group I am a part of to make a good decision. They did! It was a unanaimous decision (& the one I agreed with). I later asked my good friends if I remained objective & the answer was yes! A tough test & yet another testimony to good process – “Trust the Process”!

  2. Viv McWaters on January 21, 2008 7:26 pm

    Thanks Gillian – I think all facilitators have opinions – our challenge is always to know when and where to reveal them. Your example shows your understanding of this and of the role of good process that helps all participants express their opinions.
    Cheers Viv

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