Transforming your business with creative facilitation


December 14th, 2012

Warning: Thinking out loud

For a long time facilitation has bothered me. I guess that’s a funny thing for a facilitator to say. I’ve never been comfortable with facilitation as a profession – it doesn’t exist on it’s own, or in isolation. To use some jargon, it needs a context. Facilitation needs to be needed, otherwise it’s just what? An indulgence?

When working in Kenya recently with humanitarian workers, it became even clearer to me that facilitation is not the main game. Many people have what I call ‘real’ jobs – they provide food and shelter and emotional support to people in need. Sure, a lot of their work is done at the computer – filing in forms, writing proposals for funding, doing budgets, administrivia. And yet, it all means something. It’s all for a reason, a purpose.

Yet the people I was working with said they couldn’t do their work *as well* without facilitation. This made me pause. What exactly does facilitation contribute?

I don’t profess to know the answer. I do think I now have a sense of how the skills of facilitation – especially creative facilitation – value adds (sorry!) to the business people are engaged in. My personal areas of interest are humanitarian aid, conservation and agriculture. I now think creative facilitation can help transform any business – whether it be internally, with meetings and learning, or externally with customers and engagement.

Apologies in advance, I’m going to become even more reflective for a moment.

Twitter, FaceBook, Yammer, the web – blogs, websites, LinkedIn, discussion lists… I’m a big user of them all. They inspire me and they intimidate me. How can I ever measure up to what everyone else is already doing? And if everyone else is already doing what I want to do, then what’s the point of adding yet another voice to that crowded area?

I’ve been feeling this a lot lately.

It’s not helpful.

It’s no doubt I’ve been influenced greatly by hanging out with young entrepreneurs this last year – people who want to change the world and seem to just get on with it.┬áSo I guess I’m heading towards positioning facilitation within businesses. I’m thinking about what that means depending on what business you’re in.

There’s the obvious: the businesses of sharing information, of creating events, of educating, of changing behaviour, of researching.

And the less obvious: the businesses of services, of solving problems, of selling goods or ideas, of making art, of entertaining.

Maybe you can help here, and tell me what it means for whatever business you are in. What is, or could be, the contribution of facilitation to your business?

1 Comment so far

  1. Amanda on December 16, 2012 5:14 am

    Good musings, Viv. When I went to my first Art of Hosting I was struggling with the feeling of ‘hot having a cause’. So many other people had a cause they were focused on (Transition Towns, nursing, education, transforming church… etc) and my ah-ha was to think of my facilitation and hosting work as being in service to those trying to create a better world. So like you describe, it needs context!

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