Facilitation is the set of structured and collaborative activities organized to discover, understand and learn together. The facilitator helps a group of people and decision-makers to face complex problems, producing a collective intelligence more powerful than each individual could do, alone.
What does “facilitation” mean (to me)?
“Facilitation” comes from the Latin word “facilis” which means “it can be done”. A “facilitator” is somebody who makes things “doable”, easy for somebody else.
A facilitator is a professional who helps people to organize collective processes. They create the context and the opportunities for creativity and understanding to happen.
In a facilitation workshop, many participants can be invited. Usually from 5 to 20 but you can have dozens or even hundreds of participants. Facilitation helps to remove any obstacle to collaborative thinking and creation. It also sets the pace and the rhythm to promote the participation of all attendees.
During workshops, a lot of different participatory methods can be used. They give structure to the collaborative activities of participants.
A facilitator sets the workshop objectives with the sponsors who hired them. The objectives must be clear to allow an evaluation of the facilitated activities. They also guide the facilitator to set the top priority of this learning experience. The facilitator needs to decide where to work harder and what to remove to make the workshop a success.
Facilitation is a set of structured and collaborative activities organized with an agenda.
The facilitator covers several roles:
- a referee,
- a coach,
- and a presenter.
And works in helping, motivating and supporting a group of participants.
Among the goals of a workshop you can find:
- exploring a topic,
- investigating a complex problem,
- gathering different perspectives from different actors,
- earning a better understanding of the context,
- rendering explicit the causes and the relationships behind a concept,
- ideating a set of actions to take to solve the identified problems
- or clarifying and improving the way of collaborating and working together.
I like to facilitate diverse and creative thinking
I’ve been performing professional facilitation activities, for more than 20 years, in the most diverse settings with the most incredible participants:
- Aspiring artists struggling with new creative technological tools.
- Professional artists in the filmmaking industries, looking for new creative methods and ways to grow as workers in the field.
- Organizational leaders coming from any part of the world looking to become better facilitators themselves.
- University students from very different disciplines: architecture, industrial design, humanities, fashion design, science, math and physics, photography and writing, looking for new insights from the world of Design and Technology.
- Corporate leaders on the look for new sensemaking tools and methods to understand how to live with VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity).
- Teachers facing the complex challenge of transferring knowledge in a jolting world towards progress and complexity.
- Scientists, researchers, journalists, politicians, activists, and decision-makers facing the global challenges of a society in the sector of technology, agrifood, and finance.
- Entrepreneurs working hard to create new products and services while organizing their teams and resources in an adaptive and resilient manner.
- Thought-leaders searching for new trends to explore and to build new knowledge on.
When I conclude a co-design workshop or a series of corporate events, I feel complete.
I am happy when I help people establishing a productive creative network. When they face their problems with powerful intellectual tools I am contributing to raising their collective intelligence.
Reaching the end of a well designed and organized workshop gives me immense satisfaction as a designer. Most of all, as a human being, I realized I have contributed to the progress of the community.
Learning while facilitating
I like to design facilitated workshops because it is one of the best occasions I have to learn. A workshop designer must learn about the needs of the organizations involved and the participants invited. At each learning experience, I am immersed in new knowledge domains that enrich me and make me more aware of the diversity and complexity of life.
Successful facilitation is invisible and easy
One of the best definitions of facilitation emerged while brainstorming the writing of this article: “You made facilitation looks like something so easy to create!” my creative partner told me. And that’s exactly the final goal of facilitation: to make things easy.
As Bruno Munari said “To make things hard is easy, To make things easy is hard.” it is not easy for a facilitator to create a successful facilitation event. And successful facilitation must be easy for participants.
Let’s make understanding easier, together
I love facilitation. I organized and delivered workshops on the most diverse topics. I dream about writing more about my experience in facilitation and I am looking forward to the next co-creation workshop.
Do you need a professional facilitator for your co-design, co-creation and collaboration workshops?