Thank you again to the 100 or so who attended this session yesterday, and especially to IAF for the invitation and to Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg for co-hosting with me.
In this session we explored the ladder of engagement, and how we can climb it with those that we work with. We invited you to share your experience in changing the conversation, at scale, so we can all become better at it. We explored together how the roles, skills and tools of the facilitation and communications professions can complement each other, and help us to scale up engagement and dialogue for positive social change.
We drew on some insights of previous work on the power of partnership between facilitation and communication, including research for our chapter in the forthcoming book the Power of Facilitation #FacPower.
We applied some of the tools of the two professions to generate new insights together, including four external digital tools in addition to zoom – Google Docs, Easyretro, Flinga and Mentimeter.
The slides, recording and other session outputs follow here:
Join us in exploring the ladder of engagement, and how we can climb it with those that we work with. Share your experience in changing the conversation, at scale, so we can all become better at it.
In this 90-minute workshop we’ll explore together how the roles, skills and tools of the facilitation and communications professions can complement each other, and help us to scale up engagement and dialogue for positive social change.
We’ll draw on some insights of previous work on the power of partnership between facilitation and communication, and we’ll apply some of the tools of the two professions to generate new insights together.
It is two years ago already that I blogged that I was working with Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg on a book project, as part of a wider team of expert facilitators from around the world. The book aims to showcase the power of facilitation in various fields and contexts, and the shorthand for the project is #FacPower – now at https://facpower.org/.
We are now eagerly anticipating publication of the book this month, we hope! Watch this space…
Our chapter focuses on the intersect between communication and facilitation, and exploring the power of applying facilitation and communications in partnership. We share stories of how we’ve used some of their complementing (and contrasting) professional competencies, and the professional frameworks available.
This session was originally proposed and accepted as a face-to-face conference workshop for the IAF Global Summit to have been held in Stockholm in October of this year, so we are also grateful to have the opportunity to share it now online.
I work as a facilitator, trainer and consultant. What drives me is my passion and commitment to make a positive difference in the world, and to support and enable others to do so as well. I believe that facilitation and facilitative leadership will be key to achieving a just and sustainable world for all. I am a IAF Certified Professional Facilitator | Master (CPF|M), an ICA Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) and experienced lead trainer and licensed provider of ‘ICA’s ‘ToP’ facilitation training. I have been a facilitator and trainer since 1986 and I have been providing facilitation, training and consulting professionally to clients since 1997. I began my career in grassroots community development work in India, Africa and the Middle East, after awakening to my own passion and commitment as an international volunteer. Since 1997 I have worked with a wide range of clients in the UK and overseas, and since 2012 online.
Michael Ambjorn, Copenhagen
20+ years of leading people. I’ve run organisations, chaired boards and developed changemakers. As a mentor I provide 1:1 advice to Chairs, Chief Execs and senior leaders – and the next generation of changemakers – with a particular focus on strategy, change and turnarounds. I’m particularly interested in how strategic alignment can focus people – and enable sustainable growth and renewal. And I am a committed espresso drinker. I also run an accelerator based on Urbantech – and I am a past chair of the International Association of Business Communicators.
What skills, knowledge, and behaviours must facilitators have in order to be successful facilitating in a wide variety of environments? To what extent do these vary, if at all, when working online rather than face-to-face? What can we do, individually and together as Agilists and as peers, to develop our own facilitation competence?
In this session participants acquainted themselves in breakout groups with the IAF Core Facilitation Competencies and shared experience of their application, both online and face-to-face. In plenary we reflected on the extent to which these competencies vary when working online rather than face-to-face, if at all. Participants also reflected on what they could do, individually and together as peers and Agilists, to develop their own facilitation competence.
For more on ICA’s Technology of Participation and facilitation online, register now for Introduction to Facilitation Online – Introducing the role of the facilitator and the ToP approach, plus some key tips & tools, 2.5 hours, next on 11 November.
The recording and other outputs follow:
the slides and mentimeter outputs shared on SlideShare
All of this time I have worked remotely, in and with geographically distributed groups, as well as face-to-face. I have been using online technology in this work for as long as it has been available.
I have never sought to make online facilitation a particular speciality, however – until now, of course. I have not made LEGO® Serious Play® a speciality either, in spite of having enjoyed a long and distinguished early childhood career in LEGO®!
I believe that a facilitator is first a facilitator, and only second an online facilitator or a LEGO Serious Play facilitator. I believe that the keys to mastering facilitation lie in the values and the stance of the facilitator, the competencies and the disciplines, rather than the space or the platform, the methods or the tools.
I know Sean, and that he is a competent, experienced and accomplished facilitator. Questions are the primary tool of every facilitator, and I know that he asks good questions and that he asks them well. In an early meetup of IAF England & Wales, in London in perhaps 2013, he posed the question: “Is there such a thing as a universal principle of facilitation?”
It didn’t take me long to think and respond that, in my own facilitation at least, there is certainly something approaching that – the ‘ORID’ model underlies of the ToP Focused Conversation method and the ToP methodology as a whole.
I know that Sean has since integrated this approach in his practice, and in his previous book ‘Mastering The LEGO Serious Play Method’. I was sufficiently inspired by the metaphor of ORID as a universal principle that I blogged about it then and have used it in my training ever since.
Many facilitators have rapidly developed a speciality in working online this year, as Sean and I have as well. Some have done so more quickly and easily than others, and some with greater enthusiasm. Most, in my experience, have had reservations about some of the very real limitations of online facilitation. Only recently I think more of us are becoming belatedly more aware of some equally real limitations of face-to-face, and some real advantages of working online.
So, it is not only LEGO Serious Play practitioners that might take heart and find inspiration in the many innovations that Sean shares in this book. There is much here for all of us to learn from – not least, the rigour and creativity with which he has designed ‘a digital process that uses bricks’ [substitute your preferred tool or method here] ‘rather than an analogue process poorly rendered online’.
I’ve heard it said that, in online facilitation, every participant brings their share of the meeting room with them. This is a challenge for LEGO Serious Play practitioners perhaps more than most, and one to which this book rises admirably.
As Sean makes clear in his Guiding Principles, success in achieving outcomes rather than just engagement through facilitation comes largely from the planning and preparation, and from the capacity to divert nimbly from the plan when the moment requires improvisation.
All of this can be considerably more complex and difficult online than face-to-face. So, if this is what can be done with LEGO Serious Play, think what else can be possible online!
Finally, we are in the midst of a climate emergency, as well as a public health emergency. I believe that the two are not unrelated, and that they demand new ways of connecting, communicating and collaborating that are less carbon intensive as well as more COVID-19 secure, and that are more creative, compassionate and empowering as well. I believe that facilitation has a central role to play on the latter, with bricks as well as without, and that designing and delivering facilitation well online must play a part on the former.
I have witnessed an extraordinary flourishing of creativity and innovation among facilitators in response to the pandemic and lockdown of recent months, and an extraordinary generosity of sharing of it as well – largely, of course, online.
I am delighted to see this valuable and timely new book enter the fray, and just in time for International Facilitation Week! I am proud to be able to welcome you to it, and grateful to Sean for sharing it.
I am grateful to Vinay Kumar, host of the Shiny Happy People podcast of C2C-OD, for the opportunity to join him as a guest for this week’s new 30-minute episode on Re-Tooling for Virtual Facilitation in this time of global pandemic.
Listen now, or see the show notes and audiogram below first for what to expect…
Re-Tooling for Virtual facilitation – SHOW NOTES
As our playground moves from face-to-face to virtual, two IAF Certified Professional Facilitators take a closer look at the skills, practices, and techniques that are helping and can help facilitators become better and more effective today. Vinay, who is currently Chair of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), invites friend and IAF colleague, Martin Gilbraith who is currently Chair of IAF England & Wales, to share insights, observations and trends and expertise from the world of virtual facilitation.
[06:15s] Virtual facilitation – trends and observations
[12:34s] How are organizations responding to virtual facilitation?
[17:00s] Hybrid or purely virtual facilitation – the future
[22:38s] Skills,tips, best practices for effective virtual facilitation
A business podcast that is all about people – leaders, thinkers, strategists, and doers, Vinay Kumar of C2C-OD, an Organizational Development consulting firm, reveals actionable insights, smart strategies, brilliant tips and lesser-known best practices on business leadership and people management. That’s not all!
Each episode has a theme and is packed with a mix bag of fun facts to make you think and laugh, inspirational quotes to give you that little nudge you need, (sometimes quirky) business news to catch up with trends, candid conversations with industry leaders PLUS curated recommendations on our RWL (Read Watch Listen) list.
When he is not traveling, Vinay likes to travel more! Director (Client Engagement) of C2C-OD and the current Global Chair of International Association of Facilitators, Vinay has spent 10+ years enabling people and organizations become better at what they do.So, Shiny, Happy People, it’s time to step away from that screen, turn up the volume and hit play!
Since I posted Reflecting on another year of freelance facilitation a year ago, last August, our lives and work have changed radically for many of us. I mentioned then that I would be taking ‘something of a sabbatical’ from October to March in Sitges, in Spain. As it turned out, that was cut short by less than three weeks by my early return to London due to COVID19.
In the year to June 2020 I delivered 25 contracts for 19 clients in 5 countries and online – that compares with 25 for 14 in 7 countries & online the year before. So, the same number of contracts for a few more clients in a few less countries.
Of those 25 contracts last year 7 were facilitated processes (14 the year before), 16 were facilitation training courses (14) and 2 were largely consulting (0). They involved 14 face-to-face and one ‘hybrid’ event (31 f2f), and 16 wholly virtual sessions or series of sessions (1). I spent 28 nights away on business, 4 in the UK and 24 abroad, compared with 14+33=47 last year.
So, half as much face-to-face and half as much facilitation, and considerably more training and consulting – plus 16 times as many virtual events (admittedly many were smaller) and 40% fewer nights away on business.
The fall in face-to-face work and nights away certainly comes as no surprise. One virtual and 10 face-to-face contracts were in the 3 months before Sitges, and 2 virtual and 5 face-to-face contracts were in the almost 6 months there. Since then I have canceled all 14 of my face-to-face public courses for 2020, and four in-house contracts were either canceled or delivered online. Prior to a very welcome holiday in Wales these past two weeks, I had had no nights away at all since returning and entering lockdown early on 12 March. Until the end of June I had not traveled more than a few miles by foot or bicycle. I am grateful that plenty of online work has come my way to take to take up the slack, and interested that that has involved a significant rise in training and consulting.
My online work did not just start with COVID19, however. With the Wikimedia Foundation last July on behalf of ICA:UK, I provided virtual co-facilitation for remote participants in a 3-day meeting of a strategy working group of around 12 in Utrecht. With AEIDL in December, I designed and facilitated a 2-day ‘hybrid’ team planning meeting involving around 15 participants in Brussels and another 5 online. In February from Sitges I produced a pair of online facilitation training sessions with Extinction Rebellion, on behalf of Orla Cronin Research. In fact I have been facilitating and training online for clients since at least since 2012, and otherwise also since long before – as I recalled in May, in From the Archive: a 2001 online Focused Conversation on ICA:UK values. So I have been fortunate to be in a position to respond quickly to the sudden increase in demand for everything online. That response has included adding new modules on virtual facilitation to my training offer since March, namely Introduction to Facilitation Online and Facilitating Virtual Events I Online.
What else has changed for me, in response to the rise in online working, is much more co-facilitation and producing and much more sub-contracting and partnership working. Existing partners with whom I have collaborated a great deal more, in recent months especially, include ICA Associates Inc., ICA:UK and Orla Cronin Research. New partners that I have been pleased to have the opportunity to work with as well this year include Kumquat Consult and Rees McCann.
My role as Chair of IAF England & Wales again accounted for most of my volunteer time this year. Our 2-day Annual Conference in October, the Power and Practice of Facilitation, attracted over 100 participants from across the country and beyond. In December another three Board members were elected, bringing our number to nine, and we held our first online Annual Members meeting. A dozen of our wider Leadership Team of 28 met overnight for the first time for our annual planning and team-building gathering, in January in Birmingham. That led to the development of IAF E&W Hubs and Guardrails for Buddying, among other new developments. Our #IAFpodcast has now reached over 20 episodes – including, with my own involvement, on The importance of values in facilitation and Facilitation in different languages. Since we announced in early April that all our local meetups around the country would be meeting online until further notice, we have seen an extraordinary flowering of peer support and learning opportunities among IAF facilitators and friends – including much learning and sharing on online facilitation, of course.
In my own professional development this year, my fourth 4-yearly CPF assessment submission Evidencing facilitation competencies led to my being awarded the new CPF | Master designation in April. I embarked on a new mentoring relationship with my second mentee through the IAF Mentoring Programme. My session proposal with Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg for the IAF Gobal Summit in Stockholm this October 2020 was accepted, but then of course the summit was canceled due to COVID19. We established a simple website and social media channels for the Power of Facilitation book project for which we have co-authored a chapter, on which our Summit session was to have been based. We are hopeful that the book will nevertheless be published in time to launch during this year’s International Facilitation Week in October, albeit not in Stockholm.
So, what else of the sabbatical in Sitges? I did certainly enjoy a little less busyness, and a little more sunshine. I was indeed able to advance my Spanish skills somewhat, with the aid of several weeks of intensive classes and some practice – including on occasion with IAF Spain. I did also find some time reflect, write and learn, and to look ahead to my next seven years of freelance facilitation – not least on What can I do about climate change, personally and as a facilitator?.
I shall certainly continue to travel less and work more online than I did prior to last October, that much is clear. What interests me more, now, is when I shall again travel or work face-to-face at all, and how much. I realised just how unenthusiastic I am about returning to face to face facilitation already when I recommended others for two client opportunities last week that normally I would have been very pleased to accept myself. For more on how that turns out, watch this space…
Thank you for following!
I realised just how unenthusiastic I am about returning to face to face #facilitation already when I recommended others for two client opportunities last week that normally I would have been very pleased to accept myself
Thank you again to the hundred or so people that attended today’s free facilitation webinar, in all or in part, and especially to IAF Oceania for the invitation and to Stephen Berkeley and Anna Carr for co-hosting with me. Here below you will find the session recording and other outputs.
In this session the method was adapted to accommodate the number attending, using only the basic tools within the Zoom platform – audio, video, text chat, break-out rooms, screen sharing and polling.
For more on ICA’s Technology of Participation and facilitation online, register now for these further upcoming training & learning sessions:
Group Facilitation Methods Online – Introducing the foundations of the ToP approach, two powerful techniques for structuring effective conversations and building group consensus – a series of 6 x2 hour sessions, next from 22 June to 2 July(NEXT WEEK!)
Introduction to Facilitation Online – Introducing the role of the facilitator and the ToP approach, plus some key tips & tools, 2.5 hours, next on 8 July & 8 September
Facilitating Virtual Events Online – Learn about and practice ways to make online events participatory, engaging and productive – a series of 7 x2 hour sessions, next from 15 September to 8 October
We all know that online is just not the same as face-to-face, right? And that for some things, maybe, it will never be as good. But when, or for what, can online be better?
“We ran a conference in Teams (and it was better than the “real” thing)” wrote Dr Robert O’Toole NTF of the University of Warwick this week.
“Technology facilitated a more inclusive meeting than is usually possible in person. Best facilitation ever, more equal interaction than at any other meeting, no flights (climate thanks us). Virtuality rules!” wrote particpants in a 3-day online event of over 100 delegates that I facilitated myself recently.
The recording, slides and chat transcript follow here. Thanks also to Heather Collins for her LinkedIn post and Carolyn Xie for another beautiful sketchnote!