A few thoughts on facilitating


April 11th, 2008

Yesterday I facilitated a workshop with some people from a rural community to explore their future in light of the changes that are occurring around them. I’d heard a cool quote on television the night before that I used:

“Knowledge is knowing you’re on a one-way street; wisdom is looking both ways anyway.”

It seemed appropriate, and set the scene for some ‘knowledge transfer’ via presentations and time for conversation. Making sense of a complex, changing world isn’t going to happen in one workshop. Facilitating in this situation is so much about getting out of the way – allowing time and space for people to explore what interests them. Of course, Open Space is ideal for this.

The crunch comes when it’s time to decide what to do next. I wonder if this is necessary at all. We’ve been programmed to have beginnings, middles and ends. What’s wrong with something that continues? Conversation, collaboration and space. Three elements of community that are increasingly being squeezed by the pace of modern living.

3 Comments so far

  1. Parking Lot » Notes on April 17, 2008 4:44 am

    […] quote from Viv: ““Knowledge is knowing you’re on a one-way street; wisdom is looking both ways […]

  2. Gillian Hayman on April 23, 2008 11:39 am

    Hi Viv
    I was also involved recently in a similar workshop where information was provided and next steps were discussed. The group struggled with where to from here. I thought I would offer some thoughts as to why they struggled;
    1. They came along to gather information, not necessarily to make decisions about the next steps.
    2. There was a lot of complex & possibly threatening information delivered.
    3. The group had come together for the first time that day and were from a large geographical area.
    4. This was the start of a conversation or information gathering process and perhaps they were not ready for decisions just yet.
    Although no solid next steps were identified, many converstaions just got started.

  3. Viv McWaters on April 23, 2008 2:15 pm

    Hi Gillian – I’d agree with all your points. My most telling insight was that the client had a greater need for ‘next steps’ than did the participants.

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