Another summer, another year of freelance facilitation

IAF India Conference, 2017 in Chennai - photo IAF India, facilitation Martin Gilbraith #ToPfacilitation #IAFIndia17 1

Another summer means another opportunity to pause and reflect, as in June I completed my fifth year in business as Martin Gilbraith Associates Ltd.  The image from last year’s IAF India conference in Chennai is of my plenary session subtitled “Reviewing the past to prepare for the future“. Like every good ORID process, a reflection or review must start with Objective level data.

The data tell me that in 2017-18 I have delivered 20 contracts for 16 clients in 6 countries, involving 20 face-to-face events and one virtual event and 10 facilitated processes and 11 facilitation training courses. Also that I spent 56 nights away from home, 3 in the UK and 53 abroad. That compares to 26 contracts involving 35 events in the previous year, and over the 5 complete years a total of 90 contracts to 53 clients in 18 countries involving 121 events – 109 face-to-face and 12 virtual, 69 facilitation and 52 training.  So it has been another busy year, albeit not quite such a bumper year as the previous, and a marked increase in the proportion of training to facilitation contracts.

Returning clients in the past year have included Amnesty InternationalGirls Not BridesLorensbergsOxfamWells for India and of course ICA:UK, and new clients have included the AlternativeArticle19CCLEdringtonEFFAEPIMGCFJMIC and NNC. So I have continued to work largely with international NGOs, foundations, associations, networks and alliances, largely in Europe and the Middle East and particularly in London and Brussels. However, the NGOs continue to include more campaigning as well as international development and humanitarian, the Associations continue to include industries as well as NGO networks, and new fields for me this year include Scotch whiskey, Danish politics and global catastrophic risks!

Somewhat fewer contracts this year has allowed somewhat more time for business and professional development.

In new partnerships with ICA:UK and ICA Associates I have extended my schedule of public facilitation training to include dates in London and Birmingham as well as Brussels and new courses of the new IAF-endorsed ‘ToP Facilitation Essentials’ programme, Meetings That Work and Facilitating Client Collaboration.

My networking and volunteering has been focused primarily on IAF England & Wales, where four regional groups totaling around 750 members are now hosting 5 or 6 meetups every month around the country, led by a virtual leadership team that meets monthly online. I finally joined IABC as a member this year, and became more active with IABC UK as well as presenting at EuroComm18 in Copenhagen, after collaborating for some years to build an informal partnership between IABC and IAF that resulted this year in a more formal MoU at the EMENA level.

I have also enjoyed opportunities to participate in and lead sessions at IAF conferences and events  during the year in Australia, Canada, France, India & Jordan, and at ICA regional gatherings in Nepal and Poland as well as in the UK.  I have been pleased to have been able to host five free facilitation webinars during the year, with colleagues of all of these networks that I respect very much. I am very excited to have begun collaborating with IABC past-President Michael Ambjorn and more than a dozen other IAF colleagues to co-author a book on the Power of Facilitation – for more as the project develops, follow us at @FacPower.

Since last summer’s 5-year review of participant feedback on my ToP facilitation courses, taster sessions & webinars I have been requesting post-course feedback 3-4 months after every training, so I hope to share some insights from that as well before long. Other substantial additions to this site during the year have included a series of cases studies on Responding to changing situations and needs with ToP Consensus Workshop, a new image gallery and (of course!) a Privacy policy.

With five public courses and half a dozen client contracts already in the pipeline for the autumn, another webinar and another IAF India conference and of course International Facilitation Week in Birmingham, it looks like there will continue to be plenty to blog about when I can find the time. Thank you for following!


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

Join IAF facilitators & friends – 20 October in Birmingham for International Facilitation Week, and more!

It’s the middle of summer holiday season in England & Wales so, if you’re not on holiday, what better time to be making plans for the autumn?

Our annual all-day Networking & Learning Meetup of all four of our regional facilitation meetup groups is now open for bookings – RSVP now, all welcome!

This will be a participant-led, peer sharing event – an opportunity for you to network, share and learn with up to 60 or more other facilitators and those who share an interest in facilitation. It will be one of dozens of such face-to-face and online events worldwide, promoting and celebrating the power of facilitation for International Facilitation Week. Sessions already confirmed include:

You are invited to share your own offers and requests for further sessions as well, and to bring a few of your favourite facilitation books and other resources to share with each other – for viewing only and/or for sale. We will provide free bookmarks! Also during the day we will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the CPF programme, since the first CPFs worldwide gained their accreditation in Edinburgh in 1998, and we will celebrate the newest CPFs who gained their accreditation at the previous day’s CPF Assessment event in Birmingham on October 19.

You are also invited to learn practical tools to design facilitation approaches with your client in ‘ToP Facilitating Client Collaboration‘, one of three 2-day modules of the IAF-endorsed ‘ToP Facilitation Essentials’ training programme, October 18-19 with me and Bill Staples CPF at the same venue. Those arriving on Friday, or staying over from the preceding training and CPF assessment, are invited to gather to start their networking over dinner and drinks from 7pm.


It has never been easier to find a regular facilitation meetup near you in England & Wales. Ongoing monthly coffee meetups in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and London will be joined in the autumn by Warwick, in addition to our bi-monthly or quarterly afternoon learning meetups in each of the four regions. We are keen to support emerging local groups elsewhere as well, and are seeing interest particularly in Cambridge, Exeter, Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton already – so please contact me if you are interested to connect with others in these cities, or wherever you are.

For upcoming dates, and other opportunities for facilitation networking & learning, join our regional groups for London & SE, South WestMidlands & East & North, and connect with us online also on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Finally, IAF members in England & Wales are invited to nominate themselves or another member to stand for election to the chapter Board in 2018. Please contact me if you are interested to step up further to help to drive the growth and development of IAF E&W, to connect and support facilitators and to promote facilitation!


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and Mindful Activism’.

Thank you again to everyone who participated in yesterday’s free facilitation webinar A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and Mindful Activism’, and for the feedback shared on twitter!

In this session we explored the role of facilitation in sustainable development and ‘mindful activism’ for social change. I was joined by Robertson Work, author of the 2017 book of the same name, and again by Sunny Walker CPF CTF of the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative.

Rob shared something of how his experience of facilitation and ICA’s Technology of Participation influenced his thinking, and the format of the book, and how he sees the role of facilitation in realising a Compassionate Civilization. We invited you to share some of your own experience of facilitation for social change, and to respond with us to questions that are raised.

Session materials & additional resources shared include:


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

Facilitating a culture of participation in organizations: reviewing the past to prepare for the future with IAF Jordan

Thank you to everyone who participated in my session with IAF Jordan in Amman today – Facilitating a culture of participation in organizations: reviewing the past to prepare for the future.

In the session I demonstrated a participatory approach for a group to review the past, to prepare for the future, by applying the ToP (Technology of Participation) Historical Scan method to reflect and learn together from our diverse experience and perspectives on the past, present and prospective futures of participation in organizations and organizational change. We also considered practical ways that we ourselves can contribute to facilitating a culture of participation in our own organizations, and I shared some key insights, tips & tools that enable professional facilitators to engage people effectively in bringing about change and some practical examples from experiences of facilitating participation and organizational change in Europe and elsewhere.

Here I am sharing the slides (pdf) that I shared in the session, with embedded hyperlinks to case studies and further resources, and some of the feedback received via Facebook.

See also my ToP Historical Scan (‘Wall of Wonder’) overview in the IAF Europe Method of the Month, May 2007 (pdf) and Four steps to a universal principle of facilitation and learning.


See also about me, how I work, who I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and ‘Mindful Activism’

Are you interested to learn more about facilitation, and ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) in particular – in a free, one-hour, interactive online session that offers an experience of virtual facilitation as well? Register now on Eventbrite for this latest addition to my series of free facilitation webinars – and also for Getting to the Bottom of ToP, next Wednesday 4 April.


A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and Mindful Activism’

Thursday 14 June 2018, 15.00 UK time 

In this session we will explore the role of facilitation in sustainable development and ‘mindful activism’ for social change.

I shall be joined for this session by Robertson Work, author of the recent book ‘A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and Mindful Activism‘, available from Amazon; and again by Sunny Walker CPF CTF of the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative.

Rob writes in his Preface to the book:

“This book is being published now because of the urgent need for a compelling vision, practical actions, and effective tools to catalyze what has become necessary in this moment of multiple crises. It is offered as an opportunity to reflect deeply on what is happening in our communities and societies and how we can each help create a better world for all. In this book, you can participate in a conversation about this most critical decade and century. My heartfelt hope is that by dialoguing with these reflections, you might be challenged, inspired, and equipped to participate further in the adventure of realizing a compassionate civilization day by day.

This book aims to serve the growing number of activists and caring citizens in the United States and around the world who know that these are the times and we are the people. It is not a technical book for experts; it is for everyone who cares. This is the moment for this book to be in your hands.”

Robertson Work is adjunct professor of public service, he is founder/director of Innovative Leadership Services and facilitator/trainer for UNDESA, UN Habitat and the East-West Center, among others. Previously he was UNDP’s Principal Policy Adviser of Decentralized Governance for 16 years at UN headquarters in New York. Prior to UNDP, he served in Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Jamaica, USA and Venezuela for 21 years as country and regional director with the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA).

Rob will share something of how his experience of facilitation and ICA’s Technology of Participation influenced his thinking, and the format of the book, and how he sees the role of facilitation in realising a Compassionate Civilization.

We will invite you to share some of your own experience of faciliation for social change, and to respond with us to questions that are raised.

Each session in this series is hosted in Adobe Connect for a highly interactive learning experience. Each topic is addressed by a short case study or other presentation, with links to further online material for later reference. In the sessions we apply tools and techniques of virtual facilitation to help participants to engage with the material and the presenter, and with their own and each other’s experience on the topic. A short technical orientation directly before the session introduces the features of the virtual meeting room, and the tools to be used. A brief closing reflection at the end of the session invites reflection and learning on the facilitation process and virtual tools, as well as on the content of the session

To whet your appetite, read the Preface and Foreword of the book at ICA International, browse the blog A Compassionate Civilization and check out these recent interviews with Rob at Buddhist DoorDemocratic Perspective and Speaking of Travel.

Register now on Eventbrite.


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

 

Join our regular & free facilitation meetups, now in four regions of England & Wales!

Are you interested to connect and learn with other facilitators, but haven’t yet taken the plunge to attend a meetup? It has never been easier to find a meetup near you, or to schedule another where you are – why not join us?

IAF England & Wales now has scheduled free monthly networking & social meetups and quarterly or bi-monthly networking & learning meetups in all four of our ‘IAF facilitators & friends’ regional meetup groups around the country – a fourth group for the Midlands & East of England was just launched this month. Everyone with an interest in group process facilitation is welcome, IAF members and non-members alike.

Our informal leadership team of 8 are ourselves spread around the country, and we are keen to support you to use the meetup groups to convene additional meetups wherever & whenever suits you, according to your own interests and availability. We are particularly keen to support emerging local groups in the North East, North West, East Midlands, the South coast and Devon/Cornwall – please contact us to connect first with others near you, or go ahead and suggest a new meetup in your own regional group.

Still not sure it’ll be worth your time? We asked some of our regulars what they have appreciated most about the meetups and why others should be interested – here are just a few of their replies:

  • “Meeting diverse practitioners of facilitation – and learning together” – Michael Ambjorn
  • “Expanding my thinking AND facilitation practice through peers generously sharing their ideas” – Andi Roberts CPF
  • “A great way to build your faciliation skills whilst networking with like-minded sorts”– Neil Fogarty
  • “A wonderful opportunity to learn from each other, to share experiences and to practice new ways of facilitation in a friendly and fun environment” – Pinar Akkaya
  • “It’s great to feel a sense of belonging to a community with shared values and common goals. This has all sorts of benefits to me as an individual (now a CPF) and my business.” – Sean Blair CPF
  • Setting out as a facilitator on my own was a scary decision but I have met so many great people through the meet ups. Its a really wonderful community to be a part of!” – Camilla Gordon

RSVP now for scheduled meetups including:

  • 20 March in London – bi-monthly afternoon networking & learning including last year’s Brexit Assembly and GDPR for facilitators
  • 3 April in Leeds – monthly lunchtime social
  • 4 April in London – monthly morning coffee
  • 6 April in Birmingham – monthly morning coffee
  • 12 April in Bristol – quarterly afternoon networking & learning including IAF facilitator competencies & CPF assessment, applying Consensus Workshop in Dublin, the Rhizome Live online platform & secrets of simple graphics
  • 16 April in London – bi-monthly evening networking & social plus this time (tbc) business psychology in facilitation
  • 9 May in Bristol – monthly morning coffee
  • 15 May in London – bi-monthly afternoon networking & learning including Bohm Dialogue & graphic recording
  • 22 May in Birmingham – quarterly afternoon networking & learning
  • 22 June in Leeds – quarterly afternoon networking & learning

For more dates join our regional groups for London & SE, South WestMidlands & East & North, and connect with us online also on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

We look forward to connecting and learning with you!


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

Getting to the Bottom of ToP – exploring the foundations of ICA’s Technology of Participation

Free facilitation webinar - Getting to the Bottom of ToPAre you interested to learn more about facilitation, and ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) in particular – in a free, one-hour, interactive online session that offers an experience of virtual facilitation as well? Register now on Eventbrite for this next in my series of free facilitation webinars.


Getting to the Bottom of ToP – exploring the foundations of ICA’s Technology of Participation

Wednesday 4 April 2018, 15.00 UK time 

In this session we will explore the foundations of ICA’s Technology of Participation facilitation methodology.

I shall be joined for this session by Jo Nelson of ICA Associates Inc., co-author with her late husband Wayne Nelson of the new book Getting to the Bottom of ToP, now available from iUniverse; and again by Sunny Walker CPF CTF of the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative.

People demand authentic participation in decisions that affect their lives.  ToP™ methods answer that call because they reflect how humans think, growing out of reflective inquiry into what works in real life, and the study of phenomenology and existentialism. This book explores the foundational understandings of this body of knowledge and its practice.

Getting to the Bottom of ToP works at two levels: as a guide to processes that elicit participation to bring insights to the surface and ensure participants collaborate to bring the resulting plans to fruition; and as a theoretical basis drawn from the field of phenomenology—an answer to any of us who have pondered what principles or theory about personal and group change underlie those processes.

We will invite you to share some of your own experience of ICA’s Technology of Participation, and to respond with us to questions that are raised.

Each session in this series is hosted in Adobe Connect for a highly interactive learning experience. Each topic is addressed by a short case study or other presentation, with links to further online material for later reference. In the sessions we apply tools and techniques of virtual facilitation to help participants to engage with the material and the presenter, and with their own and each other’s experience on the topic. A short technical orientation directly before the session introduces the features of the virtual meeting room, and the tools to be used. A brief closing reflection at the end of the session invites reflection and learning on the facilitation process and virtual tools, as well as on the content of the session.

ICA Associates Canada publishes ‘Getting to the Bottom of ToP’Register now on Eventbrite.

To whet your appetite, see the Foreword and Introduction from the book at ICA International and these two recent interviews with Jo, with David Buwalda of ICA Canada and with Reine Kassulker of Facilitation Nation:


See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together. Please do not delay before contacting me – the earlier I hear from you, the more chance that I will be able to help and the more helpful I may be able to be.

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.