And how does it differ from any other sorts of facilitation?
It took me a long time – literally years of trial and error – to find my own style of facilitation. It was helpful to see how other people facilitated and I would learn lots from them. But I was not other people. With the benefit of hindsight, I can say there were two huge influences on my facilitation: open space technology and applied improvisation. In-between I learnt lots of processes and techniques, useful of course to have many of these to draw upon, but alone, not enough.
Open space technology and applied improvisation provided a way of being a facilitator,not just doing facilitation. Eh? Does that sound a bit weird? Even if I am not specifically using open space or applied improv, the principles behind these approaches are always a part of how I facilitate.
For example, from open space I learnt to hand over responsibility to the participants, to step out of the limelight, to let people get on with it.
From applied improv I learnt to let go, to trust (both others, and myself), to commit, and how to perform as a facilitator.
Importantly, from both of these practices I learnt these things both cognitively and physically. Letting go is not just an abstract idea, it is a physical process.
Fast forward to 2010 when Johnnie Moore and I co-founded Creative Facilitation. Creative Facilitation embodies (literally) the best of open space and applied improvisation, and importantly, is based on this premise: that the participants in any workshop are creative, intelligent and want to succeed. With that in mind, we facilitate with people, not for people. It’s nuanced, and for me, it’s pivotal.