“Great facilitators are innovative, intentional and immersive.”

Before we get to the ‘great’ part of ‘great facilitation’ we need to understand what facilitation is:

“Facilitation is a process where an individual who is agreed upon and acceptable to all of a group’s members intervenes to assist the group in solving problems and making decisions to improve productivity and efficiency but who has no authority to make decisions.”

Most of us have had experiences with a variety of facilitation and facilitators. Facilitators can be team leaders, supervisors, from an outside party or sometimes even a fellow team member.

Can you recall an instance of great facilitation? Chances are the facilitator implemented at least one if not all the following keys to great facilitation:

  1. Innovation: create an adult social learning environment

Great facilitation happens when there is a balance between people, process and content. It takes creativity and innovation to balance all three of these. It is typical to focus on content (think long boring PowerPoint presentations) and neglect the reality that each participant will engage in a unique way because each is unique. In addition it is common to neglect that the very process of learning needs to be

  1. Intentional: focus around teamwork and collaboration

A great facilitator will intentionally put the onus on the team to work together to come to collaborative insight and conclusions; the facilitator’s role is not to tell but rather to guide building on clarity and consensus.

  1. Immersion: utilize the reality that people learn by experience

Social cognitive theory states that people learn new things not by trial and error but by the replication of the actions of others and great facilitation takes advantage of this by creating opportunities for members of the team to actively take part through experiences and observations.

If you spend any time facilitating groups, you may want to consider an upcoming learning opportunity – “Coach Approach to Facilitation.” Even though I have had years of facilitating teams, boards, staff and volunteers at meetings, retreats and through leading strategic planning process I was pleasantly surprised at how this workshop changed the way I facilitate.

“It was the single best thing I have done that has helped me to become a more effective and better facilitator.”