What is Facilitation?

Some thoughts on a core practice of Campden Hill International


According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, "facilitation" is the act or process of making something easier.

I make it easier for individuals and groups to do what they need to do.

There are a number of related practices that go into making this to happen.

Any group is influenced by the ongoing stream of interactions within it and then the meaning members make of those interactions.  Indeed, that is all a group (or an organization) is: a network of interactions and relationships.  

As a facilitator, I draw attention to these interactions, processes, and relationships in a way that is unique and beneficial to the group.

I make it easier for people to say what they need to say by being non-judgmental, open, and non-anxious.  I separate what I say and do from any reactions I'm having to what's happening in the meeting.  

Some think of that as “being objective”, but it’s different.

I try to keep clear intentions for the group and then use these intentions to drive what I choose to say and do.  I talk about my intentions and motives to reduce the opportunity for misunderstanding.

Having this kind of self-awareness means I realize that others are experiencing the meeting in a way that is different than me.  This makes room for people to talk about their different experiences.  

Letting people know what's going on and where we're headed contributes to the environment, too.

Being a different presence in the group is at the heart of the practice.  Something beyond techniques and devices like ground rules and structures,   A calm presence that makes it possible for the group to deal with its anxieties. 

These anxieties are not always interpersonal; more often, they are related to the substance of the group’s work: differing perspectives on strategy or direction, disagreements about policy, conflicting operational practices.

There is always sufficient intelligence and experience in the group to accomplish its objectives.  Sometimes, though, the group needs a little assistance in accessing that intelligence.  

That’s where I come in.