In the midst of facilitation training


February 28th, 2011

Tomorrow we start week two of three weeks of facilitation training. It’s a long time since I’ve done so much training in such a short time. Three diverse groups. I’ve been thinking about how this training is quite different from the sort of training I did when I first started facilitating way back in the dark ages (before the internet). Bringing people together for five days from across the planet is a huge investment. And so it’s important, I think, ┬áto do more than simply share information – to do more than what can be gleaned from web sites, blogs, books and YouTube.

That *something* that we did last week – and will do again this week, and next – is to try and provide a series of experiences that mimic the real world of facilitating. Not a theoretical exploration, but a real, visceral experience of what it feels like to facilitate. And not just practice. Experiencing the effects of this approach or that. Knowing what it feels like to be faced with anger or cynicism or confusion or impatience or gazumping. And to actually live the principles of facilitation, experience them first hand so as we know, really know, not just theorise, that the group can generate knowledge, that being in the midst of confusion is a normal state, that paying attention to the human needs of the group and enabling connection can move a group into surprising territory. Experiencing the effects of laughter and of playfully exploring even the most serious of issues, and the impact of avoiding one-to-many processes or of simply removing the tables.

This work is exciting and invigorating, at the same time as being draining and stressful. Going beyond the expected norms, challenging the way things are done, encouraging people to their edges – it’s a responsibility and a privilege. Not to be done alone, so I’m glad to be working with Johnnie Moore who brings complementary skills to my own and pushes me to my edge – often. Together we have created something far more exciting than I think either of us could have done alone. It’s the value of true collaboration and models to the participants the power of co-facilitating, where the improv principle of ‘making your partner look good’ is embodied.

It’s a radical shift from a traditional training model – one that we hope has reverberations well beyond the people in the room.

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