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.

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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.

How has facilitation developed over time, and where might it be heading?

IAF 20 year logo 500facweek logoWhat are some key events in the history of facilitation – past, present and future? What online resources are available on the development of facilitation over time?

Join facilitators worldwide in a six-month collaborative process to develop our collective story of facilitation, as the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. For more details of the background and process, see my earlier post Celebrating the development of facilitation – world-wide and history long.

Many events and resources have already been shared since the process was launched, including at the IAF North America conference April 9-12 in Orlando – you can view those below, and on Storify (or download a pdf as of 2 October).

Join us by contributing events and resources of your own – simply add a comment below this post, tweet using the #FacHistory hashtag, or share and discuss on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Follow as well for facilitated workshop sessions and other opportunities to share and reflect together at upcoming IAF conferences, 14-16 August in Singapore and 3-5 October in Copenhagen, and at local IAF chapter events such as the monthly IAF London Meetup.

Thank you for participating!