Facilitating collaboration, breakthrough and transformation – three new publications for 2021

I have been pleased to have the opportunity to contribute endorsements to three forthcoming books recently, and to be able to recommend them all wholeheartedly – see below.

I have been a fan of Adam Kahane’s writing since his 2004 book “Solving Tough Problems: an open way of talking, listening, and creating new realities”, so I was delighted to learn that his latest (forthcoming in August) would focus in particular on his facilitation practice.  For an in-depth preview, I recommend also the series of conversations he recorded with Carol Sherriff CPF|M in her Facilitation Diversely series for International Facilitation Week last year.

I have known Penny Pullan personally for I think at least as long as that, as a fellow IAF member and Certified Professional Facilitator, now also a CPF|Master.  I have widely recommended her 2016 book Virtual Leadership. I particularly appreciate that this next book (forthcoming in July), of our present time, addresses what it takes to ‘make workshops work’ irrespective of whether they are online or face-to-face or both.

I have met Gwen Stirling Wilkie only this past year, through the online meetups of IAF England & Wales. Her new book (published this month) captures beautifully for me something of the journey that so many of us have traveled this past year, as we and are clients have had to take all of our work online.

See Publications for more books and articles for which I have contributed an endorsement, foreword or editorial support, others that I have reviewed in a blog post or on which I have hosted a free facilitation webinar with the author, and some which I have authored or co-authored myself.


From Physical Place to Virtual Space, Gwen Stirling WilkieFrom Physical Place to Virtual Space: How to design and host transformative spaces online

by Gwen Stirling Wilkie (Feb 2021)

This book provides a fascinating insight into the theory and practice of Dialogic OD, and the heartening story of how an initially skeptical facilitator and her client found that they could apply this approach online via Zoom, during the 2020 pandemic, and be delighted with the results as well! Many of the practical tips that Gwen shares here have broader application to other facilitation approaches and platforms as well – a valuable resource.


Making Workshops Work, Penny PullanMaking Workshops Work: Creative Collaboration for Our Time

by Penny Pullan (Jul 2021 forthcoming)

This is a wide-ranging introduction and an invaluable resource for anyone leading any sort of workshop, whether in-person or online or both – it is packed with tips and tools and rich with insightful stories… highly recommended!


Facilitating Breakthrough, Adam KahaneFacilitating Breakthrough: How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together

by Adam Kahane (Aug 2021 forthcoming)

Facilitating Breakthrough is thoughtful, reflective, and inspiring. To achieve breakthrough results on high-stakes challenges, facilitators need to raise their game. This book explains how.


See also about mehow I work and who I work with, 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 and now online too.

Scaling up engagement and dialogue – the power of facilitation and communications in partnership

Scaling up engagement and dialogue - the power of facilitation and communications in partnershipFree facilitation webinar hosted by IAF

1.30-3pm UK time, Wednesday 16 December 2020

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.

Join usregister now with IAF!


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. 

We are grateful to all those who contributed to the chapter, including those who participated in our previous free facilitation webinar back in February 2019 – and to Narsi (V Narasimhan) of IAF India, host of the IAF global webinar series, for the invitation to lead a webinar. 

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.

Join usregister now with IAF!


Martin GilbraithMartin Gilbraith CPF|M, London

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 AmbjornMichael 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.


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 also for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels, and now also online.

Facilitation Competencies for Agilists – session recording & outputs

Facilitation Competencies for Agilists - Agile Tour LondonWhat 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?

Thank you again to all those that attended this session last week during Facilitation Week, and especially to Agile Tour London for the invitation and to Megan Evans for co-hosting with me.

This session adapted the format of the ICA:UK Online Focused Conversation Series: Taking time to connect, learn and reflect. This was a series of taster sessions around different topics – both to examine and explore the topic, and to demonstrate the use of ICA’s ToP Focused Conversation Method.

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 OnlineIntroducing 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
  • the Zoom recording in Youtube

This session was previously held also in September, in partnership with the Agile Coaching Retreat and co-hosted by Dawn Williams with over 100 participants – see:


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 also for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels, and now also online.

How to Facilitate LEGO Serious Play Online – #FacWeek Foreword

How to Facilitate LEGO® Serious Play® Online

Welcome to International Facilitation Week 2020, starting today! #FacWeek

This year I am pleased to join with Sean Blair CPF in launching his new book, for which I am pleased to have contributed the Foreword, below.

Join Sean and me if you can at this year’s online IAF England & Wales Annual Conference, in which he will be leading a session The story of how LEGO® Serious Play®, a face-to-face method went #Online and I shall be co-hosting this month’s UK & Ireland facilitators virtual coffee meetup #IAFmeetup – all welcome!

Also this week, on Thursday I shall be leading Facilitation Competencies for Agilists with fellow ICA:UK ToP trainer Megan Evans part of Agile Tour London 2020.  And of course I shall be tweeting @FacWeek!

How will you celebrate and promote the power of facilitation this year? Check out the global schedule of events at www.facweek.org, and you will not be left short of ideas!


I started out as a facilitator in 1986, with my first training in the ICA ‘Technology of Participation’ (ToP) methodology that has been my facilitation speciality ever since.

I have been providing facilitation and facilitation training professionally to a wide range of clients since 1997, became a Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF) of the International Association of Facilitators in 2008 and was inducted into the IAF Hall of Fame in 2014, then became CPF | Master this year in 2020.

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.

Nevertheless, I am excited to commend to you this book ‘How To Facilitate Meetings & Workshops Using The LEGO® Serious Play® Method Online’. Here are three reasons why.

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.

Buy the book, online of course, from Serious Work.


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.

Re-Tooling for Virtual Facilitation – podcast with Vinay Kumar

Re-Tooling for Virtual Facilitation - Shiny Happy People podcast

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

[26:00s] RWL Martin’s recommendations to:

LISTEN: ‘Facilitation Stories’ podcast by IAF England & Wales

Visit www.iaf-world.org/site/ for resources on facilitation, as well as meet-ups for facilitators happening worldwide, especially in the upcoming International Facilitation Week, October 19 to 25, 2020

What did you think about this episode? What would you like to hear more about? Or simply, write in and say hello! podcast@c2cod.com. Connect with Martin on Twitter and LinkedIn. Connect with Vinay on Twitter, LinkedIn or email him at vinay@c2cod.com


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!


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.

When is online better than face to face? Free facilitation webinar recording & outputs

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.

This session was scheduled in partnership with IAF Oceania and the IAF Oceania meetup group, adapting the format of the ICA:UK Online Focused Conversation Series: Taking time to connect, learn and reflect. This is a series of taster sessions around different topics – both to examine and explore the topic, and to demonstrate the use of ICA’s ToP Focused Conversation Method.

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 OnlineIntroducing 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 OnlineIntroducing 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 OnlineLearn 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!

When is online better than face-to-face? sketchnote

 


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 also for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels, and now also online.

How engaging can your online session be? Free facilitation webinar recording & outputs

How engaging can your online event be

Thank you again to the 250 or so people in total that attended today’s free facilitation webinar, in all or in part, and especially to my fellow trainers of the ICA:UK Facilitating Virtual Events course Megan, Dawn, Orla, Alan, Nileen & Ester Mae for co-hosting with me – see our profiles.  Here below you will find the session recording and other outputs.

This was the second of two sessions scheduled in partnership with ICA:UK as part of its new Online Focused Conversation Series: Taking time to connect, learn and reflect.

The aim of all these sessions is for participants to connect, share and learn with others sharing their interest the topic, while experiencing ICA’s ToP Focused Conversation method.

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:

  • Free facilitation webinars – next up “When is online better than face-to-face?”, next week on 17 June
  • Introduction to Facilitation OnlineIntroducing the role of the facilitator and the ToP approach, plus some key tips & tools, 2.5 hours, next on 8 July & 8 September
  • Group Facilitation Methods OnlineIntroducing 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
  • Facilitating Virtual Events OnlineLearn 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

For details of remaining sessions of this series with other ICA:UK lead ToP trainers, and to register for those, please see the ICA:UK Online Focused Conversation Series.


Our meetings, workshops and events, our world, are increasingly moving online – now more than ever! So as leaders and facilitators we must be prepared to move with them. Virtual sessions can have advantages over face-to-face, but disadvantages too – not least, shorter attention spans and greater potential for distractions. How can we keep people engaged and focused when meeting online?

The recording, slides and chat transcript follow here. Thanks also to Carolyn Xie for her beautiful sketchnote and to Archana Pingle & Susanne Dunne for their tweets and Michelle Deacon for her LinkedIn post.

How engaging can your online session be?- Carolyn Xie sketchnote


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 also for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels, and now also online.