IAF launches the International Facilitators’ Hall of Fame

IAF Hall of FameIt is an honour indeed to find myself among such distinguished company inducted today, during International Facilitation Week, into the IAFInternational Facilitators’ Hall of Fame”. There are certainly many other facilitators around the world who are equally or more deserving of such an accolade, so I thank IAF for this wonderful recognition and I thank all of them as well for their own contributions to our profession and to our association. I am proud to contribute what I can to both.

The full text of the IAF press release is below, and here to download in pdf – IAF Hall of Fame Press Release.

International Association of Facilitators

Date: October 22, 2014

The International Association of Facilitators is pleased to announce the induction of the following people into the International Facilitators’ Hall of Fame:

  • Nadine Bell (USA)
  • Gilbert Brenson-Lazan (Latin Am & Caribbean)
  • Ann Epps (Asia)
  • Martin Gilbraith (Europe, Middle East & North Africa)
  • Jo Nelson (Canada)
  • Theresa Ratnam-Thong (Asia)
  • Keith Ryall (Oceania)
  • Dr. Sandor Schuman (USA)
  • Bill Staples (Canada)
  • Dr. Tom Schwarz (Oceania)

The Hall of Fame recognizes individuals who: have contributed to our field of practice; have made ‘significant contributions’ to the field of facilitation through publication, promotion, etc.; and who have shown a high level of dedication and service to the international professional association. The individuals named above have been nominated and received unanimous agreement from the IAF Board of Directors as being worthy of this, our Association’s, highest distinction. The bios for each of this year’s inductees are attached.

The International Association of Facilitators is a professional association that sets internationally accepted industry standards, provides accreditation, supports a community of practice, advocates and educates on the power of facilitation and embraces the diversity of facilitators and methods of facilitation around the world. It’s mission is to grow the community of practice for all those who facilitate, establish internationally accepted professional standards, build credibility and promote the value of facilitation around the world.

IAF 20 year celebrationThis is the IAF’s 20th anniversary providing internationally recognized professional certification, professional development, peer networking and advancement of the art and science of facilitation. IAF members are committed to the IAF values and code of ethics providing impartial facilitation so that all voices and ideas are heard and considered.

Contact: Julie Larsen, Director of Communications, communications@iaf-world.org or: Kimberly Bain, Chair, chair@iaf-world.org.


Nadine Bell CPF (US)

Nadine (Plavnick) BellNadine Bell, CPF, is a founding member of IAF, a past Board member and an assessor. Nadine has served on the Board of Directors as Chair elect in 1997; as Chair in 1998; as Past Chair in 1999; as Co-Chair of Professional Development in 2000; and, as Co-chair of the IAF Conference in Texas in 2002. Nadine also contributed to the IAF Handbook as an author. Nadine has been an important and driving figure in the US Region for many years. Nadine has attended almost all North American IAF conferences as well as many IAF conferences in Europe and Southeast Asia. Nadine is an experienced facilitator, trained mediator and mentor trainer of the Technology of Participation Group Facilitation Methods, Nadine is the only facilitator to hold the Certified Professional Facilitator, Certified Master Facilitator and Certified ToP Facilitator designations and she has assessed facilitator candidates for all three certifications globally..

Gilbert Brenson-Lazan (LAC)

Gilbert Brenson-LazanGilbert Brenson-Lazan, has been a driving force in the Latin American and Caribbean facilitation community for many years. Gilbert has served on the Board of Directors as both Regional Director and Vice-Chair International, hosts an important facilitation blog in Latin America and was Co-Chair of the first IAF Conference in Latin America with over 600 attendees from 19 countries. Gilbert is a Founding Member, Past President and Member of the Advisory Board of the Global Facilitator Service Corp (GFSC) and developed and applied the basic model used for psychosocial intervention in disasters recognized around the world.

Ann Epps CPF (Asia)

Ann (Stanley) Epps, MA, IAF CPFAnn Epps, CPF, is a founding member of IAF, served on the Board of Directors as the Director of Conferences and is a CPF assessor. Having served on the planning committee for ten of the early IAF Asia conferences, Ann has also attended many IAFNA and Europe conferences and most of the IAF Asia conferences. Ann is a mentor trainer in the Technology of the Participation methods and divides her time training and
facilitating between Southeast Asia and the US. Ann and her husband John are regular presenters at conferences and are tireless supporters of IAF.

Martin Gilbraith CPF (Europe MENA)

Martin GilbraithMartin Gilbraith, CPF, is the most recent past Chair of IAF. Previously he served on the Board as IAF Vice Chair and as IAF Europe Director. Martin has served IAF in many ways, he hosts Facilitation Daily and a widely subscribed facilitation blog, and he manages the @FacWeek twitter account and co-hosts the IAF Twitter Chats during IFW. Martin is an independent facilitator, trainer and consultant based in London, UK. He currently serves as President of the Institute of Cultural Affairs International (ICAI) and is an Associate and former Chief Executive of ICA:UK. He has been facilitating and training, specialising in ICA’s ToP facilitation methodology, since 1986.

Jo Nelson CPF (Canada)

Jo NelsonJo Nelson, CPF, CTF, is a founding member of IAF, a sustaining member and a past Board member who has served as both Secretary and Chair of the Board. Jo has served on numerous committees including the Professional Development Task Force and most recently chaired the working group that developed the training endorsement strategy and program. Jo also facilitated the development of the IAF competencies. Jo has attended every IAFNA conference since their inception and continues to promote IAF in everything she does. Jo has published many particles and one book on facilitation. Jo also is recipient of a Gold Facilitation Impact Award.

Theresa Ratnam Thong CPF (Asia)

Theresa Ratnam ThongTheresa Ratnam Thong, is the first Malaysian Certified Professional Facilitator and is an Assessor and a past Board member, serving as Vice-Chair International from 2007 – 2008 and again from 2001 – 2003. Theresa has organized IAF conferences in the Asia Region and has been an important member of the Asian facilitation community. Theresa has been active in the Local Government of her locality and was Lead Facilitator for the Women@Work Summit, the Malaysia Water Forum under the auspices of the Global Water Partnership. She was also selected to be part of the Facilitation Team consisting of 25 Global Facilitators to facilitate at the World Summit on Sustainable development held in South Africa and was also invited to be part of the Generative Dialogue Project, a global initiative in New York.

Keith Ryall CPF (Oceania)

Keith RyallKeith Ryall, CPF, is an assessor, a past Board member (Regional Director for Oceania) and a sustaining member. Keith worked very hard to increase IAF’s Oceania and much of the growth there today is based on the solid foundations set up by Keith over the years. Since 2009, Keith has been heavily involved with introducing the magic of Process Facilitation to Rotary International and specifically to Strategic Planning Workshops for Australian Rotary Clubs and other Not for Profits. Keith is a regular presence at IAF conferences around the world and a great promoter of IAF and our profession.

Dr. Sandor Schuman (US)

Sandor SchumanSandy Schuman is a sustaining member. He edited the IAF Journal, Group Facilitation (1997–2007) and IAF Handbook Series (2003-2011), co-founded and moderated the IAF email discussion list, grp-facl (1994-2008), and co-chaired the Ethics and Values Think Tank, which created the Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Group Facilitators (2000-2004). He was a member of the Research and Publications Task Force (1996-2001),the Board of Directors (2000-2001) and was the primary researcher of the 1996-1997 Survey of Group Facilitators. Sandy has worked hard to promote the profession through mainstream and academic literature. He continues to present professional development workshops at IAF conferences and regional meetings. His most recent blog post, You know you’re a group facilitator if …, is his most popular.

Bill Staples CPF (Canada)

Bill StaplesBill Staples, CPF, is a founding member and has been the publisher of the IAF Journal since 2001. Bill was chair of the IAF 2000 Conference Toronto with 1100 participants. He was on the Association Coordinating Team from 1999 to 2005 and was the IAF Global Conference Team chair from 2002-05. Bill is also a Certified ToP Facilitator and has published articles and books on facilitation, working hard to increase the profile of the association and the profession.

Dr. Tom Schwarz CPF (Oceania)

Tom Schwarz CPFTom Schwarz, CPF, if a past member of the Board of Directors, was Director of Oceania Region and is a CPF Assessor. Tom was the first facilitator in the Oceania Region to be awarded the CPF designation. Tom has been a fixture at IAF conferences around the world and often presents at PD events in Asia and Oceania. Tom has published articles on the power of facilitation and regularly advocates for and promotes our profession.

Reviewing the past to prepare for the future: #FacHistory in Copenhagen

Facilitating #FacHistory workshop - photo @jppoupardThank you to everyone who joined my session Reviewing the past to prepare for the future on Friday, at the IAF Europe conference in Copenhagen Facilitation Reloaded.  Here I am sharing links to the resources and case studies that I mentioned during the session – both on our topic, which was the history of facilitation, and on the process we used, which was the ICA ‘ToP’ Historical Scan method.

FacHistory Historical ScanFor more on the history of facilitation, and the events and links shared online and at various IAF conferences this year, cick to enlarge the photos here of our own session and of the IAF travelling timeline, andIAF travelling timeline see also:

On ICA’s ToP Historical Scan method, see:

For case studies of real-life applications of the method in different contexts, see:

To join me and other faciliators worldwide in reflecting together on the past and future development of facilitation and our profession, please join our #FacWeekChat twitter chats, October 22 & 23 during International Facilitation Week 2014., or do also share any comments on the post, here below. Thank you!

Facilitation case study: 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 Dudding and Ann Lukens in delivering the programme.

The article was authored by Jonathan and Ann, and is posted here with their permission. It 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. Extracts are reprinted below, and to read the full article please click on the image or go to Building a future together – broadening ownership in corporate planning.

A Visioning workshop, with over 80 people working individually, together and at tables, supported by Bron Afon facilitators

How do you develop a new plan for organisational growth and success and, at the same time, design a process which provides the opportunity for full involvement of the organisation’s members, staff, and partners? This article describes how we worked with a housing organisation on their year-long journey as they sought to develop a new corporate plan, build up an internal team of facilitators, and strengthen the members’ ownership of their future direction.

Involving all staff and client members in full corporate planning processes may seem to stretch the ‘need for consultation’ to its limits. However, in 2010, a community based housing organisation in Wales that is widely recognised for its community engagement strategy did exactly that. Bron Afon Community Housing wanted a corporate plan that was developed with maximum community, member and staff involvement; that enhanced the organisation’s capacity continually to design and facilitate participatory events; and that broke down the barriers between departments to provide more cohesive and integrated services to tenants. This is the story of how we co-designed and facilitated that project.

Penny Jeffreys, Bron Afon Learning and Development Manager, wrote:

“One of our aims in undertaking the project was to build capacity which we could use in the future and this has already been a proven positive outcome: the facilitation skills and techniques learnt and developed during the project have already been used in a number of other areas in the organisation. For example a workshop was held to identify and prioritise the support needs of our tenants to inform the future direction of this service using the trained facilitators and the process learnt which yielded really useful and comprehensive results.”

Shelley Hier, one of the Community support team facilitators,

“The process came at just the right time – we had a year’s worth of data and using what we had learned, we were able to make sense of it all with our members group – coming up with an outcome that was clear, concise and (in the end) easy. The members really felt they owned it and in fact they said  it was the best thing we‘ve ever done at Bron Afon. They could see actions and ways forward – the result of us having better processes and understanding how to apply them in different situations.”

Jonathan Dudding is Director of International Programmes at ICA:UK. Jonathan has an MSc in Social Development Planning and Management from the University of Wales (Swansea) and a background in international development work in India, Zambia and Kenya. Jonathan specialises in the Technology of Participation, facilitating and training both in the UK and internationally; working with local partners to bring about change in Africa; and researching and developing new approaches to participation and partnership.

Ann Lukens, GroupWorks, is a facilitator, mediator, conflict practitioner and trainer. She has an MSc in Conflict Resolution and Mediation from Birkbeck (London), and has worked with and facilitated groups of all shapes and sizes to find ways to meet their needs and move forward in both exciting and difficult times. She has experience in Solutions Focus coaching and training, trains Mediators, Conflict Practitioners, and Facilitators and uses ICA ToP methods as a cornerstone of that work.

Celebrate International Facilitation Week 2014 by joining #FacWeekchat on twitter!

International Facilitation Week 2013As part of International Facilitation Week 2014, I will be hosting Twitter chats with IAF colleague Ben Ziegler, as we did last year.  This year’s chats will be on October 22 and October 23.  Please join us!

Just like last year, each chat will run from 12-1pm New York / 5-6pm London time – follow these links to see world times for Oct 22 & Oct 23.   Each chat will include 6-8 questions, spaced out throughout the hour, for you to answer, comment on, comment on other people’s answers, ask questions, etc.

A twitter chat is basically a dialogue, a conversation between people on twitter with a shared interest, discussing the topic at hand. Twitter chats are a great way to connect, share, learn, and have fun, with a community of practice; ie: facilitators!  The many tweets of a twitter chat are followed by using a common hashtag. For our chats we will use the same hashtag as last year, #FacWeekChat.

IAF 20 year celebrationThe topic for the two chats this year will be facilitation history, concluding a six-month collaborative process undertaken to celebrate the 20th anniversary this year of the International Association of Facilitators – see How has facilitation developed over time, and where might it be heading?  On October 22 we will reflect on the history of facilitation to date, and October 23 we will look ahead at what the future may hold.

Before the chat, please take a look if you can at some of the events and resources that have been shared since April with the #FacHistory hashtag – you can find edited highlights compiled  on Storify.  Please also add more of your own!  Simply tweet using the hashtag #FacHistory, or share and discuss on Facebook or LinkedIn.


A bit about Twitter chats.

New to Twitter, and/or Twitter (aka Tweet) chats?  This article, How to Participate in a Tweet Chat, by Janet Fouts (@jfouts), helps explain things.

We hope to have you join us on Wedensday October 22 and Thursday October 23! 

Please tweet to invite all your twitter friends. Got questions that can’t wait? Contact either of us via Twitter – @benziegler or @martingilbraith

What else will you be doing to celebrate? Please let us know (tweet #FacWeek or @FacWeek), and so connect and join with facilitators worldwide in promoting the power of facilitation!

Facilitation Reloaded: Reviewing the past to prepare for the future

Facilitation ReloadedI am excited to be included among an impressive range of international presenters offering no less than 40 workshops at the upcoming IAF Europe MENA conference Facilitation Reloaded, October 3-5 in Copenhagen. It is shaping up to be a fantastic learning and networking event, so do join us – it is not too late to register at www.facilitationreloaded.com!

The conference theme will be explored through a wide range of highly interactive sessions in 12 conference tracks.  In my own workshop, Reviewing the past to prepare for the future, I will demonstrate the Technology of Participation (ToP) ‘Historical Scan’ method (or ‘Wall of Wonder’). This is a powerful tool to enable a group to share and learn from their varied perspectives of a journey through history – to review the past in order to prepare for the future.

IAF 20 year logo 500The session will draw on, and contribute to, a wider six-month collaborative process to develop a collective story of the history of facilitation (past, present and future), as IAF celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. This has included a ‘travelling timeline’ that will be coming to Copenhagen with contributions from IAF conferences earlier this year in Orlando and Singapore, and it will culminate with a series of online and and local events during International Facilitation Week, October 20-26. For more on that wider process, see my recent post How has facilitation developed over time, and where might it be heading?, and see #FacHistory on twitter.

During the Copenhagen session we will plot key events in the unfolding history of facilitation on a timeline, alongside key events in our own lives and work and in the wider environment. We will reflect together to share stories, successes and challenges, to draw insights, and to discern chapters and trends for the future. We will have time to reflect together on the method and it’s applicability to participants’ own work situations, and a method handout will be provided as a resource.

For a recent example of the ToP Historical Scan method in action, with a diverse, international group of around 120 in Turin, see also Facilitation case study: Celebrating 20 years with the European Training Foundation in Turin – #ETF20.

Do join us in Copenhagen if you can, and if you can’t be with us in person then please join us by sharing and discussing online – Celebrating the development of facilitation – world-wide and history long!

My facilitation stories, tips and advice on Meeting Tips Radio

Meeting Tips RadioMeeting Tips Radio is an online podcast that pledges “to share stories, tips and advice from the best meeting facilitators in the world, so you can improve your meetings, improve your career, and improve your life“.

The site is published by Meeting Tips Radio host and interviewer Reine Kassulker, based in Minneapolis USA. Many of the world-class facilitators he has interviewed before me are among those who developed ICA’s Technology of Participation facilitation methodology in the 1970-80s, and who founded the International Association of Facilitators in the early 1990s. So I feel honoured indeed to be included now in this distinguished company, and to be the first guest interviewed outside of North America as well.

To hear my own stories, tips and advice, click on the image above and then click play – or download to listen later. In the 43 minute interview, I share something of my experience of the recent ICA Ukraine PEACE Summit in Kiev, some of the challenges I have experienced in virtual facilitation, my own ‘universal principle facilitation‘ ORID, my approach to meeting preparation, and how I use social media in my facilitation and in my facilitation business. I also share some tips and advice for fellow facilitators just starting out in social media, and for people just starting out as faciliators. Also, not least, I share how to get in touch if you are ready to offer me a six-figure facilitation contract…

Do also check out the archive of fascinating previous interviews at Meeting Tips Radio – listen to Marilyn Oyler on the invention of the sticky wall, Sunny Walker on virtual facilitation, Catherine Tornbom on conflict resolution, Mirja Hanson on lessons from her book Clues to Achieving Consensus, Nathaniel Cadwell on Agile meetings and innovation games, Rebecca Gilgen on ‘stealth facilitation’, Deb Burnight on strategic planning, Irina Fursman on her work in Ukraine, Linda Alton on the origins of ORID and the ToP Focused Conversation method – and much more!

And on that six-figure contract… just contact me!

Facilitation ethics and values – where do you draw a line?

no go zoneMembers of the International Association of Facilitators commit to upholding the IAF Code of Ethics. The code was the result of a 4 year collaborative development process of the IAF Ethics & Values Think Tank, and was adopted in 2004.

I find the code a helpful tool to support me in reflecting on my own practice and values as a facilitator, and I have been referring to it again as I have been preparing my portfolio for ICA’s Certified ToP Facilitator (CTF) assessment – see also Evidencing facilitation competencies: reflecting on lessons learned. However, it does not provide an easy blueprint for what you should and should not do as a facilitator. It is not as simple as that – there are sometimes ethical dilemmas to negotitate.

Where do you draw a line, based on your own ethics and values, beyond which you are not prepared to go as a facilitator?  Perhaps more problematically, how do you negotiate the drawing of such a line with your client and group, especially when a contract or a facilitated process is already underway?  There are no right  or easy answers, but as IAF Chair Kimberly Bain writes in her new Reflective Ethical Facilitator’s Guide:

“As facilitators we are architects of trust. We owe it to our clients to act with an informed appreciation of the ethical issues and competencies needed to help groups build consensus and produce meaningful outcomes”.

One precaution I take is to try to communicate my professional boundaries clearly well in advance, just as many facilitators aim to establish ground rules at the start of a session. I have found an easy and helpful way to do that is to include in my proposals a simple and positive statement (with hyperlinks included) to the effect that: “As a Certified Professional Facilitator, my clients are assured that I uphold the IAF Code of Ethics in my work, and that I demonstrate the full range of core Facilitator Competencies. Nevertheless I can recall occasions in which I have had to draw a line.

In one case, it took a series of contracting meetings with increasingly senior officers in a local authority before I was able to understand what was the unspoken aim driving the event that I was being invited to design and facilitate. Ostensibly the event was for a variety of stakeholders to share and learn from experiences of what was working in tackling a particularly intractable social issue in the borough, and to plan next steps for collaborative action. The covert aim, however, as it was eventually disclosed to me in hushed tones, was to convince and reassure senior officers and elected members that the Council’s approach was working just fine and was not in need of review. The 80 delegates had been invited to participate in order to be guided to this pre-determined conclusion.

I responded, in hushed tones myself and as tactifully as I could, that that was not something that I would be able to help with as a facilitator. As the code makes clear, “As group facilitators, we practice stewardship of process and impartiality toward content”. I explained what I could offer instead, and drafted and submitted a proposal on that basis. My cover note stressed: “How I can help is to design and facilitate an event that enables poeple to share their views and perspectives in such a way that they feel heard and understood, and that they have contributed meaningfully to something that will make a difference; but I will not be seeking to ensure that they reach any particular conclusion”.  My proposal was not accepted, but privately I was thanked for having helped to surface an issue that had been concerning officers involved.

In another case, my proposal had won a competitive bidding process and I had had been awarded a contract for a team to design and facilitate an extensive community consultation process over several months. At our first team meeting with the client to plan for delivery of the contract, the client insisted on a more extensive process than we had proposed, and in a shorter timeframe. When I suggested that it might not be possible for us to deliver an appropriate quality of service under such constraints, I was advised that we were committed under the terms of the bidding process to deliver and that these would be the constraints.

Following a long and late discussion among the team that evening after the meeting, I wrote to the client the next morning to advise that with regret we were withdrawing our proposal. As the code makes clear, “It is our responsibility to ensure that we are competent to handle the intervention”. The client was unhappy, to say the least, and felt that we had reneged on a contract and left them in the lurch at the last minute. We learned later that they had said as much to another of our clients.  On balance, however, we felt that we had done the best thing that we could have done in the circumstances.

Where do you draw a line, and how do you negotiate such a dilemma?

See also about mehow I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies, and please contact me about how we might work together.