The books and articles listed here, like the posts on my blog, relate to facilitation and also to my interests and activities more broadly.
They include some 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.
Click on the image for a link to each publication and on the name for more on each author, and follow the additional links below for more on my blog.
For more facilitation books I recommend 100 Books That Have Helped from Gary Austin of CircleIndigo. For more from IAF and other IAF members see the IAF Knowledge Centre, and for more from ICAs and other ICA colleagues see the ICA Global research Network.
Facilitating Breakthrough: How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together
by Adam Kahane (Aug 2021)
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.
Making Workshops Work: Creative Collaboration for Our Time
by Penny Pullan (Jul 2021)
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!
The Power of Facilitation: Making it easy for groups to achieve amazing results, edited by Kimberly Bain (May 2021)
The Power of Facilitation and Communication in Partnership, by Michael Ambjorn & Martin Gilbraith (Chapter 6)
This book is a compilation of chapters written by different authors or author teams, designed to promote the power of facilitation.
Each chapter connects key perspectives on specific dimensions of facilitation, organisational and community development with the respective authors’ practice and thinking about our craft. Most of the team are members of the International Association of Facilitators, and many are IAF Certified Professional Facilitators.
The book project is a labour of love for all contributors. Our mission is to promote the power of facilitation worldwide. We are making the book available for free in order to enable and encourage everyone to read it and to share it.
See also our webinar at Scaling up engagement and dialogue – the power of facilitation and communications in partnership and our chapter at facpower.org.
From 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.
How to Facilitate the LEGO® Serious Play® Method Online: New Facilitation Techniques for Shared Models and #Covidsafe Face-To-Face
by Sean Blair (Oct 2020)
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’.
See also my foreword at How to Facilitate LEGO Serious Play Online – #FacWeek Foreword.
More Than Halfway to Somewhere: Collected Gems of a World Traveler
by John Burbidge (Sep 2020)
Burbidge leads you on a whistle-stop world tour of travelers’ tales rich with exotic locations, colourful characters and often extraordinary adventures. These are gems indeed, mined from a life lived as journey and sparkling with compassion and humour!.
See also the chapter Dancing on the Dunes – an excursion in Egypt’s Western Desert.
Serving People & Planet: In Mystery, Love, and Gratitude
by Robertson Work (Jan 2020)
Have you ever wondered what is it all for, what should be done about it, and what is your role – especially in relation to such daunting global challenges as those faced by humanity today? This is the inspiring story of one ‘useful man’, who has found answers in the very asking of such questions – every day of a long life, rich in global service and facilitative leadership.
It is largely a love story – of Rob’s love of the earth, his fellow earthlings and of life itself – but not without drama, tragedy and comedy as well. May you draw courage and inspiration from it, as I and many others have done so from Rob’s ‘doing, knowing and being’ over many years – to live your own life in such freedom and responsibility at this most critical time for us all and our planet.
See also on ICAI Serving People & Planet: In Mystery, Love, and Gratitude.
Facilitating Authentic Participation: Transformative Steps to Empower Groups
By James M. Campbell (May 2019)
Not just driving the process or holding the space, responsible facilitation requires skilful care and attention to the whole of the facilitation cycle. In this book Jim Cambell, a pioneer of our profession, draws on 50 years of diverse experience in the field to share practical examples & models, tools & tips to empower you, your clients and your groups – not least, as you navigate the too often-overlooked early phases of the facilitator’s role, before the process is designed or the space is opened. A comprehensive and invaluable resource, highly recommended!
See also our webinar at Facilitating Authentic Participation: Transformative Steps to Empower Groups.
Nimble: A Coaching Guide for Responsive Facilitation
by Rebecca Sutherns (Feb 2019)
If you have ever worried about how to respond to difficulties in leading a group, you are in good company. If you have (and, perhaps more importantly, if you have not) this book will help you to avoid being the Oblivious Facilitator. Nimble is packed with valuable and practical tips for before, during & after a session, all richly illustrated from Rebecca’s extensive professional experience. Your most powerful tool as facilitator is yourself – learn the Anticipation, Agility and Absorption that will give you the capacity and courage to facilitate Nimbly!
See also our webinar at Nimble: off script but still on track.
Getting to the Bottom of ToP: Foundations of the Methodologies of the Technology of Participation
by Jo and Wayne Nelson (Dec 2017)
Jo and Wayne write of the book:
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.
See also our webinar at Getting to the Bottom of ToP – exploring the foundations of ICA’s Technology of Participation.
A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and Mindful Activism
by Robertson Work (Aug 2017)
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.
See also our webinar at A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and Mindful Activism’.
Tatwa and his co-editor Dasareth Neupane, and the many ICA colleagues from around the world who have contributed as authors, have done a great service to ICA’s global mission with this book. It should be required reading for all those involved with ICA worldwide, as we seek to renew and strengthen our global network and extend our global impact through peer-to-peer collaboration. It should be required reading also for all those who share ICA’s concern ‘for the human factor in world development’.
Facilitators, development practitioners and policy makers alike may benefit from the 50 years of collective experience that have contributed to these inspiring stories – stories of practical approaches that work in changing lives and changing societies, through facilitating change with people, in communities and in organisations.
See my review Changing Lives Changing Societies.
Transformational Strategy: facilitation of ToP Participatory Strategic Planning
by Bill Staples (Jan 2013)
Transformational Strategy outlines the global and historical role of participation in transformative social change, and the history and evolution of the ToP approach. It places the spiral planning process in a wider framework that includes the preparation and research that precedes the planning and the implementation that follows it, and introduces a number of particular ToP tools and techniques to support each stage.
It has a chapter of in-depth theory and practical tips on the application of each of the four key stages of the spiral process that will be most familiar to ToP facilitation trainees and practitioners. It outlines some possible variations in the approach for different groups and groups sizes, and additional follow-on steps to inspire commitment through implementation.
See also our webinar at Transformational Strategy: from trepidation to ‘unlocked’ and my review Two books and three methods for facilitating social transformation.
Transformative Scenario Planning: working together to change the future
by Adam Kahane (Oct 2012)
Transformative Scenario Planning takes a more narrative approach. Kahane tells the story of the Mont Fleur Scenario exercise, and how it helped a diverse group of South African leaders from across the many divisions of that society to talk through what was happening, what could happen and what needed to happen in their country – and then to act on what they had learned, so contributing to some peaceful forward progress in a situation that had seemed violently stuck.
Drawing on another 20 years of subsequent practice with scenarios, Kahane goes on to outline his conclusions on when and how such planning works best – namely, in situations seen to be unacceptable or unsustainable, that cannot be transformed directly or by people working only with those close to them, and by means of a five stage process detailed in subsequent chapters.
Facilitation, and how it can add value
by Martin Gilbraith (Dec 2011)
This article aims to clarify what is meant by facilitation as a professional service, when and how it can best help third sector leaders realise the above benefits, and what to look for in seeking professional facilitation support.
The article was first written for ACEVO Consulting and subsequently published also on the Berrett-Koehler blog. I hope that readers who are not themselves Third Sector leaders will also find it helpful.
See also Facilitation, and how it can add value.
Building a future together: broadening ownership in corporate planning
This piece ‘from the archive‘ is the story of a 12 month programme of facilitation training and capacity building support with a cadre of 80 managers, engaging over 1,000 stakeholders in developing a new 5-year corporate plan for Bron Afon Community Housing in South Wales. I led the contracting and co-design process and managed the project for ICA:UK as Chief Executive, and I supported ICA:UK colleagues Jonathan and Ann in delivering the programme.
The article was authored by Jonathan and Ann, and was first published by AMED in a special edition of its journal e-O&P, in a partnership I brokered for IAF to mark the 2011 IAF Europe conference in Istanbul.
Beyond Prince and Merchant: Citizen Participation and the Rise of Civil Society
by John Burbidge (Jul 1997)
John writes in his Cover notes and Acknowledgements:
No longer are people willing to leave it to governments and business to lead. Citizens are seizing the initiative and reclaiming their rightful place as the catalysts of social change. Written by academics and practitioners from around the world who are striving to create a global civil society, this book describes the challenges confronting civil society and provides inspiring examples of how these challenges are being met. Surveys the “global mosaic” of modern civil society and its future, covering themes of women and youth, local community, microenterprise, public health indicators, and much more.
Martin’s thorough critique of every chapter, in the midst of writing his own Masters dissertation on civil society, deserves much more credit than a sentence here can offer.
See also my dissertation Building Civil Society for a Humane and Sustainable Future.
Civil society, the promise and peril of democratization and prospects for the Arab world
by Martin Gilbraith (Oct 1996)
Although he cites important elections in Algeria, Egypt and Palestine to support his view, Ibrahim accepts that these represent only “a few steps taken on the road of a painfully long journey” (Ibrahim 1995, 4) and that the path of Arab democratization will likely be neither smooth nor fast.
This paper will argue that the prospect of joining the third wave of democracy may in fact be considered one of the perils of the road ahead, and that realizing the full promise of democratization for the people of the region will depend crucially on the extent to which Arab civil society is able to broaden the agenda for change to embrace a more substantive conception of democracy. With particular reference to the central role of civil society, this paper will seek to assess the prospects for substantive democratic transformation in the Arab world.
by Martin Gilbraith (Apr 1996)
This essay will explore a number of approaches to rural development and its planning, with reference to the widely contrasted notions of ‘blueprint’ and ‘process’.
It will be argued that, while process approaches may and indeed have been synthesized with blueprint approaches, the extent to which a synthesis, or indeed any approach, may be considered effective can only be assessed in the context of its underlying assumptions regarding the goals of development. Where the goal is empowerment for the increased well-being of the rural poor as defined by themselves, and so intrinsically variable and uncertain, no economic measure of effectiveness can substitute for a wholly participative teleological process approach in which ends as well as means are defined and redefined through experimentation and learning with the poor themselves.