IAF England & Wales Leadership Team plans the year ahead

Six of nine members of our new Leadership Team were able to gather face-to-face in London last week to begin to plan the year ahead for IAF England & Wales. We are excited by the prospects for expanding and developing IAF E&W’s activities and network over the coming year. If you share our interest in facilitation in England & Wales, then we hope you will be excited to join us!

We used the ToP Historical Scan method to reflect and learn together on the unfolding story of IAF and facilitation networking in England & Wales from the 1990s to the 2020s – in order to ‘review the past to prepare for the future‘, and to get to know each other better in the process. Then we used the ToP Action Planning method – to clarify our context and parameters, to brainstorm our images of victory and to review our current reality, to agree our commitments and to plan who will do what and how we will work together as a team.

We will share our plans in more detail after our first monthly online team meeting in June, to allow time for us to share and develop them further across the team as a whole. In the meantime, and to whet your appetite, a little about our current story and about the new team…

The England & Wales local group or ‘chapter’ of the International Association of Facilitators has been convening ‘IAF facilitators & friends’ free facilitation meetups since 2013. Organised at first by Julia Goga-Cooke, we met monthly on Thursday evenings in London hosted by Martin Farrell. I took over as meetups organiser in 2016. We diversified our London meetups to include afternoon learning meetups and morning coffee meetups as well as evening socials, plus occasional special meetups such as (upcoming in June) with Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge. With the support of members around the country we launched quarterly meetups in the North and the South West of England, and an annual all-day, all-England & Wales meetup in Birmingham during International Facilitation Week in October.

Our network has now grown to over 400 IAF facilitators & friends in three regional groups, including now 74 IAF members and 15 Certified Professional Facilitators (CPFs). We network online as well face to face. Join us in London & SE, the North or the South West, and join us also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

An online survey launched last December attracted an enthusiastic response (now 39 and counting), and indicated considerable interest for more and different activities, for new locations and for new ways to get more involved. An invitation to join a new leadership team was circulated widely in March, and was followed by a pair of online meetings for those that expressed an interest.

The team of nine that has emerged comprises newer and long-standing members of IAF and of our three regional meetup groups. Connect with us via the IAF online member directory or LinkedIn, and on twitter, and let us know if you have any questions or ideas for the areas of responsibility that some of us have already taken on:


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

How can I turn meetings into “events” that people want to attend?

Chris Mapitlan with certificate

How can I turn meetings into “events” that people want to attend? How can I increase participation, and get the best input and results from everyone?  How can I increase commitment to action, and handle difficult or controversial items?

Find out, at Meetings That Work in Brussels or London this September, with Bill Staples of ICA Associates Inc of Canada. I am excited to add two dates for this new courses to my 2017 calendar. Please join us if you can, and share the details below with friends, colleagues and networks who might be interested.

Book by 31 May for early-bird rates on these and all my other remaining ToP facilitation training courses in Brussels this year:


Meetings That Work (New for 2017)

Practical tools to design and lead effective meetings 

2 days14-15 September in Brussels & 18-19 September 2017 in London.

“I came away with increased knowledge and skills in architecting and planning better meetings. The course also provided me with useful frameworks and tools to be able to engage clients more proactively in planning as well as to improve participation and outcomes. The learning experience was a good mix of theory, sharing of real-life experiences and hands-on application”

Heather Worosz, MBA, MSLS & CPCC, Executive Coach & Consultant

This course will provide you with tips, templates and practical tools from professional facilitators that will enable you to get more from meetings than you ever thought possible. For this new course I shall be joined by Bill Staples of ICA Associates Inc of Canada as guest trainer.

This course and Group Facilitation Methods are two of three modules of the ICA Associates Professional Facilitator Program endorsed by the International Association of Facilitators for those preparing to become an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF). This course alone covers many of the competencies required by the IAF.

Bill Staples is one of the founders of ICA’s Technology of Participation, a principal partner of ICA Associates Inc. of Canada, and one of the designers of Meetings That Work. Bill is happy to bring Meetings That Work to Europe for the first time in 2017, and will make the course come alive will illustrations from many fields. Bill has worked around the world with many organization and is well known in the field of facilitation. He is the author of Transformational Strategy: Facilitating ToP Participatory Planning, and is the publishing editor of the IAF Journal Group Facilitation. Bill is also a founding member of IAF, and was among the first facilitators to be inducted into the IAF Hall of Fame.


BOOK NOW, or please contact me with any questions or for further details – including how to commission a tailored course for your group, and availability of scheduled public courses in the UK and worldwide.

See also ToP facilitation training – what’s it like, and is it worthwhile? and ToP facilitation training at your place – and free places for you!


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

Join a free facilitation meetup near you!

Are you interested in connecting, networking & learning with other facilitators and with others with an interest in facilitation in England & Wales?

Join us online, and at one of our free facilitation meetups near you!

The International Association of Facilitators (IAF) is a participatory organisation with around 1,600 members in over 65 countries, and 40 local groups including IAF England & Wales (IAF E&W). As a professional association we set internationally accepted industry standards, provide accreditation, support a community of practice, advocate and educate on the power of facilitation and embrace the diversity of those who facilitate. To connect with others elsewhere in the world see IAF worldwide.

We are now over 400 ‘IAF facilitators & friends’ in three regional meetup groups, including over 65 members of IAF and 15 IAF Certified Professional Facilitators (CPFs), spread throughout England.

Everyone with an interest in group process facilitation is welcome, including facilitators and others who use or commission facilitation, and IAF members and non-members alike.

Please RSVP now for one of our regular free facilitation meetups near you:

RSVP now also for a special one-off meetup on June 15 in London with Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge introducing Cynefin and implications for ‘complex’­ facilitation.

All three regional groups will join together again for an all-day, all-England & Wales meetup for International Facilitation Week, in Birmingham on Saturday 21 October.  Join & RSVP in whichever group is more convenient to you – London & SE, North or South West.

We are working with IAF to schedule an additional Certified Professional Facilitator assessment event in the UK in November or December – for more information and to express an interest with IAF, please follow the link.

Please take a few minutes to complete our online survey, if you haven’t already, to help to make IAF England & Wales and our free facilitation meetups more valuable to you in the future. A new IAF E&W leadership team of nine will meet face-to-face in late May, to review your responses and to plan ahead to grow and develop our network and activities further, so please let us know your feedback and ideas now.

Please connect with us online also, by joining over 140 IAF England & Wales facilitators & friends in our facebook group, and by following and tweeting with IAF England & Wales on twitter. Join us also in the UK Facilitation Network group on LinkedIn.

For further information or with any questions, please contact me.

Adapt • Invent • Evolve: reviewing the past to prepare for the future at #EuroComm17

Thank you to everyone who participated in my plenary session Facilitating transformation: reviewing the past to prepare for the future at this year’s IABC Europe MENA conference #EuroComm17 in London today.

In the session I demonstrated a participatory approach for a group to review the past to prepare for the future, by applying the ToP Historical Scan method to reflect together on the journey of development of the communications profession.

Here I am sharing some links to some resources and case studies that I mentioned during the session, and perhaps some that I didn’t, plus (below) some some tweets from the session the timeline we created:

etf20

  • ToP Historical Scan (‘Wall of Wonder’) overview – pdf
  • The Art of Focused Conversation – book
  • Four steps to a universal principle of facilitation and learning – blog post
  • Facilitation case study: Celebrating 20 years with the European Training Foundation in Turin – #ETF20 – case study
  • Transformational Strategy: from trepidation to ‘unlocked’ – case study
  • Staff Away Day with George House Trust – case study
  • Reviewing the past to prepare for the future: #FacHistory in Copenhagen – blog post
  • #IAFEMENA17 conference, 13-15 October in Paris – IAF
  • ToP (Technology of Participation) facilitation training – blog
  • books and sticky walls – ICA:UK

Please share your own reflections in a comment below:

  • What can we learn from experience of the ever-changing and growing communications profession about how communicators might best adapt, invent, evolve and transform, as professionals and as a profession?
  • How might you apply this method, and facilitation more broadly, in your communications work?
  • What potential do you see for greater mutual learning and collaboration between facilitators and communicators, and for partnership between IAF and IABC?

For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

Facilitating transformation: reviewing the past to prepare for the future at #EuroComm17

#eurocomm17

I am excited to be attending and presenting at this year’s IABC Europe MENA conference #EuroComm17 in London in March. It promises to be a fantastic opportunity for facilitation professionals to connect, learn & collaborate with their counterparts in the communications profession. Register now to join me, or contact me first to benefit from my ‘invite a friend’ discount code.

CCjkUYmXIAAZqK9.jpg largeIt seems that the time is increasingly ripe to bring our two communities and skill sets closer together. I was inspired by attending EuroComm15 in London two years to blog, in Power to the People, and the power of facilitation and communications in partnership, on the potential that I saw for greater mutual learning and collaboration between facilitators and communicators and for partnership between IAF and IABC.

#FacWeekChat 2015Since then I have collaborated with fellow IAF London member and past-IABC Chair Michael Ambjorn to engage members of both associations & professions on the question What does it take for people to align behind change? – first in a twitter chat and then in a webinar. Several IABC members have taken ToP facilitation training with me, joined IAF and even gained the IAF Certified Professional Facilitator designation. More recently IABC EMENA Board member Kasha Dougall has blogged on When communicators become facilitators, and IAF Denmark member Charlotte Ditloev Jensen has joined the EuroComm17 speaker list with her session Transformation from within: How facilitation techniques can expand the organizational impact of communication.

The theme of EuroComm this year  – TRANSFORMATION: Adapt • Invent • Evolve – is a key aspect of any ever-changing and growing profession. Presentations will cover everything from constantly reinventing ourselves as professionals, to keeping pace with technology, to navigating the ever-changing political, social and workplace landscape.

etf20In my own workshop, Facilitating transformation: reviewing the past to prepare for the future, I shall demonstrate a participatory approach for a group to review the past to prepare for the future, by applying the ToP Historical Scan method to reflect together on the journey of development of the communications profession. I will be joined by IABC past­-chair Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg and Alastair Macphail of the European Training Foundation (ETF) to share a case study of the method in action “Celebrating 20 years with the European Training Foundation in Turin – #ETF20”  This project in 2015 won an IABC Gold Quill Award and an IAF Facilitation Impact Award. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on how they might apply the method themselves. The session is adapted from my 2014 IAF conference session on the history of facilitation, in IAF’s 20th anniversary year, Reviewing the past to prepare for the future: #FacHistory in Copenhagen.

Register now to join me, or contact me first to benefit from my ‘invite a friend’ discount code. See you then!


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

Some reflections on my four years as ICAI President

strategic directions

Happy New Year! It is 4 years since my first New Year’s message as ICAI President in the Global Buzz and my term is now complete and I have handed over to my very capable successor Lisseth Lorenzo. I am looking forward to continuing my involvement with ICAI this year as webmaster, looking after the ICAI website and social media. In the meantime, further to my final column in the November issue of Winds & Waves magazine Looking Back & Forward, I would like to share a few reflections on my term as President – some of our achievements that I am proud of, and some of my own hopes for ICAI’s future.

Most of all I am proud that we have succeeded, I think, in raising our ambition as a Board and as a global community, and I hope that that will continue.  That was my aim in convening a face-to-face meeting of our virtual Board in May 2015, at which we articulated the three Strategic Directions by which I have structured my reflections.

ICAI Board 2015 in Tanzania1. Fostering global connections and & collaboration to support ICAs to thrive

I am proud that our global network has experienced a resurgence in numbers, with now 24 current statutory members and no less than 9 new Associate members welcomed by the General Assembly since 2012. I hope that ICAI will continue to attract increasing involvement and commitment of all ICAs, partners and others that share our mission and values.

I am proud that all five of our regions worldwide have now established a pattern of meeting annually face-to-face, and some regularly online as well, and that these regional gatherings are increasingly including more ICAs and ICA colleagues and supporting greater connectedness and collaboration.  I hope that this will continue, and that it will extend to enable also face-to-face capacity building between regions and by means of a new ICAI Global Conference on Human Development.

I am proud that members have connected and collaborated substantially by means of several new ICAI global working groups since 2012, in addition to the pre-existing global Publications team and the global Board nominations committee. New groups have worked on global policy for ICA’s Technology of Participation facilitation methodology, on options for the next ICAI Global Conference and on collaboration with the International Association of Facilitators, and in participating in UN processes by means of ICAI’s UN consultative status. I hope that these and other global working groups will continue to encourage and support such ‘peer-to-peer’ support and collaboration among ICAs and between ICAs and new global partners.

I am proud that the new ICAI website launched in 2015 provides a versatile and engaging platform for member ICAs and ICA colleagues to communicate with each other and with the wider world.  I hope that more and more ICAs and ICA colleagues will find it worth their while to make use of it and its integrated social media, and that I will have more time as webmaster than I did as President to support them to do so – and to further develop it to better meet their needs. I hope that better integrating Winds & Waves magazine and our monthly bulletin the Global Buzz with our website and social media will enable and encourage more contributions and more readers, and greater connectedness and collaboration as a result, and that I will be able to support that as webmaster.

2. Boosting ICAI resilience and safeguarding the integrity of our global community

I am proud that we have clarified and refined criteria and procedures for ICAI membership since 2012, for both statutory and associate membership, and established a global membership survey by which members may hold themselves accountable to each other against those criteria.  I hope that that survey may be repeated annually by means of the online forms integrated with the new website, and that roles and curriculum or other materials will also be developed by which ICAs may better support each other and new members in meeting the criteria and demonstrating to each other that they do so.

I am proud that our global Board has developed effective teamwork and governance practices, notwithstanding the challenges of working as a diverse virtual team on a minimal budget. These include renewed Bylaws, monthly online Board meetings & bi-annual online General Assemblies, and responsible financial management including financial support for member initiatives.  I hope that the new Board will meet face-to-face early in 2017 to re-establish itself as a new team, and to develop a new strategy and business plan by which we all might continue to raise our ambitions further.  I hope that members will approve and contribute generously to a new ICAI budget that allows for that meeting, and for additional financial support for member initiatives including face-to-face capacity building and global strategy development.

3. Recognising & leveraging ICA wisdom and nurturing new leadership

I am proud that ICAI has been able to use its communication channels to share and amplify members’ approaches, achievements & learnings, and that these plus our global working groups, online and regional gatherings are indeed helping to nurture our collective global wisdom and new leadership.  I hope that members will collaborate globally to develop and apply a new global curriculum and materials by which to better share and leverage both historic and new ICA wisdom & leadership globally.

I am proud to have served as President these past four years, and to be able to leave such a strong and capable Board with strong and capable new leadership.  I am grateful to all my colleagues on the Board and in our wider membership, for all their support and participation in our collective efforts to ‘advance human development worldwide’.

I can be contacted now at webmaster@ica-international.org and via www.martingilbraith.com. Emails addressed to president@ica-international.org are now received by Lisseth.


This post was written for ICAI’s monthly bulletin the Global Buzz, January 2017.

Evidencing facilitation competencies – four years on

CPF pinThis is the essay I wrote and submitted for my IAF Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) re-certification in October, which has just now been approved. The requirement of the essay was to “link lessons learned since your original certification date to the IAF Core Competences, demonstrating changes in your facilitation style / behaviour, and indicating what growth you have experienced as a facilitator during the period since your last certification”.


In my 2012 recertification essay Evidencing facilitation competencies – reflecting on lessons learned I wrote “I have learned that I need to become more methodical in maintaining a record of my professional development in order to more easily and effectively renew my CPF in four years from now!”  Soon after that I established a spreadsheet to track contracts and events delivered and bid for, and clients and other relationships maintained, and I began a blog to publish and archive recommendations, case studies and other writing. As a result, I can now write with some confidence that, in four years since recertifying and going freelance in October 2012, I have delivered 62 contracts to 41 clients in 16 countries, involving 77 face-to-face and 13 virtual events and 52 facilitated processes and 38 facilitation training courses.

I shall use the IAF competencies again as a framework by which to reflect on and illustrate some of my professional experience, learnings and development in these past four years.

A. Create Collaborative Client Relationships

Beirut seafront 525x296I have continued to design and deliver longer and more complex processes with increasingly diverse and international clients groups. Increasingly these have involved virtual as well as face-to-face facilitation. Examples include a 9-month programme of member engagement and strategic planning with the International Council of Unitarians & Universalists (see UUA blog); a ‘One Country Strategy process’ with Oxfam in Lebanon (see case study) engaging around 150 stakeholders and multiple Oxfam affiliates; and an online conference “Economics of Climate Change Mitigation Options in the Forest Sector” with FAO for over 1,600 international experts (see case study).

Increasingly I find I am contracting remotely with overseas clients for multi-event processes that enable a launch event to include an element of co-design for later phases, for example in strategic planning with the Nansen Centre for Peace & Dialogue in Norway and with SSCL in Lebanon. Increasingly also I find that I am undertaking more complex contracting processes with more complex configurations of stakeholders. For example, collaborative design of a team retreat with the 60 staff of the Amnesty International Europe & Central Asia Regional Office this year engaged a fluid and semi-virtual working group of from 6-12 self-selecting group members over several meetings over several weeks. John Dalhuisen, my client for that retreat, wrote in a recommendation “Martin… will help you structure a meeting and think carefully about what you want from it.  Then he will get it for you.”

case study: Celebrating 20 years with the European Training Foundation in Turin – #ETF20I continue to work solo with my clients very often, but also as appropriate with a co-facilitator, as with Our ETF, a Journey Together in Turin, or with a larger team. I was one of 6 international and 14 Ukrainian facilitators to co-design and facilitate the Ukraine PEACE Summit with ICA Ukraine in 2014, for 250 delegates from local government, business and civil society from the 27 regions of Ukraine to “dialogue on ways to solve issues locally, restore goodwill among all peoples of Ukraine and establish greater regional and city control while strengthening the country of Ukraine”. With Initiatives of Change I provided design and facilitation support to the international conference team of around 8 for the Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business conference at Caux, Switzerland (see recommendations).

B. Plan Appropriate Group Processes

I think the size as well as the diversity of my clients and groups has grown in the last four years. One of my aspirations for going freelance was to work more internationally, and now in fact most of my work is international. My clients have begun to include larger international NGOs, UN & EU agencies and global corporations as well small charities, social enterprises and consulting firms. I have worked much less with the UK public sector than before, perhaps in part as a result of public spending cuts in recent years.

My clients tell me that they appreciate my capacity work effectively with diverse groups. Eve Geddie wrote in a recommendation  “As a diverse, transnational, multilingual membership network, successful meetings are key to our internal and external successes. Many of our staff mentioned Martin’s [facilitation] training as a highlight in their end of year reviews – several said it was the most useful training they had ever attended”.

This week for the first time I facilitated with an international group of nine Health Ministers and ministerial representatives plus key advisors, in a one-day, closed and off-the-record Ministerial Forum as part of the 47th Union World Conference on Lung Health. In preparing the processes, time and space to be appropriate to this group and its needs I found myself departing significantly from my more typical facilitation practice. The meeting was not documented, and involved no writing or visuals except one wall poster and copies of the aims, agenda & delegate list.  The room layout and process allowed half of those present to attend as observers and advisers to individual participants, rather than as participants themselves, and protocol was carefully observed in the seating arrangement and speaking order.  The process involved several series of brief presentations followed by questions and discussion and interspersed with short breaks and opportunities for country delegations to confer among themselves. Participants remarked afterwards on the high level of interaction, hard work and accomplishment they had achieved together.

C. Create and Sustain a Participatory Environment

Case study: How engaging can a large facilitated online session be?In a blog post titled How engaging can a large facilitated online session be? I reflected on that question relative to my experience of an online conference designed and facilitated with FAO, involving over 1,000 participants in six 2-hour sessions over a  four week period. This turned out to be a steep learning curve for all of us in many respects, but the conclusion was largely very positive. My FAO clients joined me in sharing something of our experience in one of my free facilitation webinars.

I have found myself working more and more confidently with conflict in the past four years. This had been an explicit goal for myself in the previous four since my initial CPF assessment in 2008. The Ukraine PEACE Summit is an obvious and extreme example where conflict was front and centre in context and design, but many strategic planning and other processes I have facilitated in recent years have involved a more or less explicit element of conflict to be addressed. Several others have also involved conflict very directly in the context and content of the facilitation, for example working on strategic planning with Oxfam and SSCL in Lebanon in the context of the Syria crisis, with the Nansen Centre for Peace & Dialogue in Norway and with the Initiatives of Change Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business conference at Caux, Switzerland.

Working with interpretation in multi-lingual groups in recent years has stretched my communication & listening skills and my capacity for developing rapport with groups. I have found working with consecutive interpretation in Russia and Ukraine to be less of an obstacle to understanding and rapport than working with simultaneous translation between multiple languages, such as at IofC’s Caux conferences in Switzerland.

D. Guide Group to Appropriate and Useful Outcomes

ORIDICA’s Technology of Participation methodology continues to serve me well as the foundation of my facilitation approach, to the extent that I have blogged and presented on the ORID model of ToP in Is there a Single, Universal Principle of Facilitation?  The presentation, shared at several IAF conferences & meetups, includes examples of how I have applied ORID in session design to produce a naturally flowing, focused and productive process, often in conjunction with other methods & tools of ToP and other approaches including World Café, Open Space and twitter chats.

E. Build and Maintain Professional Knowledge

Since 2012 I have attended 14 international conferences & regional gatherings of IAF, ICA & other Associations. In 2014 I led a six-month collaborative process, online and face-to-face at IAF conferences, to develop a collective story of facilitation as IAF celebrated its 20th anniversary –  Celebrating the development of facilitation – world-wide and history long. I have tweeted for International Facilitation Week @FacWeek since its inception in 2013.

What does it take for people to align behind change?I have organised IAF England & Wales free facilitation meetups since 2015, and I have attended, hosted and facilitated at dozens of IAF E&W free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere since 2013.  I have pursued and promoted interdisciplinary learning and collaboration among facilitation, communications and change management professionals, and between members of their Associations IAF, IABC & CMI – see What does it take for people to align behind change? and Power to the People, and the power of facilitation and communications in partnership.

Cast Study: IAF Facilitation Impact AwardI was awarded ICA Certified ToP Facilitator status in 2016 after an extensive process of reflection, documentation and assessment to evidence my ToP methods competencies in addition to core facilitation competencies. I won an IAF Facilitation Impact Award in 2015 for Our ETF, a Journey Together. I was inducted into the IAF Hall of Fame in 2014.

F. Model Positive Professional Attitude

I have practiced self-assessment and self-awareness through my blogging and through my CTF certification, as for example in Facilitation ethics and values – where do you draw a line?  In that blog post I gave examples of when I have declined opportunities to facilitate where I felt my integrity required it.

On my website and routinely in proposals I declare that “As a Certified Professional Facilitator, my clients are assured that I uphold the IAF Code of Ethics and that I demonstrate the full range of core Facilitator Competencies.”


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.