The Power and Practice of Facilitation – annual conference programme

Annual Conference - the Power and Practice of Facilitation

We are excited to announce the draft programme of our IAF England & Wales Annual Conference on the theme “The Power and Practice of Facilitation” – October 18-19 in Birmingham, for International Facilitation Week #FacWeek 2019.

Check out the 15 sessions already offered, and register by 14 July for early-bird rates, on Eventbrite at https://iafewfacweek2019.eventbrite.com/.

Register now for both days, or just for Friday or Saturday. An additional 25% off all rates is available to IAF members – please ask for the promotional code if you have not received it. If you are not yet an IAF member and would like to join, you can save a whopping 25% on your first year’s membership if you buy it when you register for both days.

Join us to celebrate and promote the power of facilitation, and to connect, network and learn with other IAF facilitators & friends from across England & Wales and beyond – full details and registrations are at https://iafewfacweek2019.eventbrite.com/.


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 monthly facilitation networking & learning meetups, now throughout England & Wales and online!

There have never been more opportunities to network with other facilitators and learn about facilitation, near you – now in more than a dozen towns & cities throughout England & Wales and online as well.

If you are a facilitator or use facilitation in your work, or if you are just interested to know more, do take a moment to join one of our 5 regional groups and RSVP now for a free facilitation meetup near you.

If you have already attended or if you are a regular, read on to find out what’s new and how to get more involved.

“A brilliant initiative – a great way to build your faciliation skills whilst networking with like-minded sorts” – Neil Fogarty

“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

“There’s a generosity and love of learning which makes these meet-ups special. And a surprisingly wide range of people and ways that they use their skills” – Penny Walker

The first IAF England & Wales ‘facilitators & friends’ meetup group began 5 years ago now with monthly evening meetups in London, and was joined 3 years ago by the South West and North of England groups. That’s when we launched our England & Wales Leadership Team and established our pattern of monthly local morning coffee meetups, quarterly regional afternoon learning meetups and an annual all-day learning meetup for all-England & Wales during International Facilitation Week (#FacWeek) each October. Last year we were joined by the Midlands & East of England group, and our local coffee meetups extended from London, Bristol & Leeds to Birmingham, Oxfordshire, Manchester & Warwick as well.  We are grateful to all our volunteer hosts & session leaders and everyone else who has made all of this possible.

Since our new IAF England & Wales Board was elected last year we have raised our ambition, and now we have adjusted our pattern of meetups accordingly – and identified some new volunteer leadership opportunities as well.

Our new ‘at a glance’ monthly schedule shows the new pattern of meetups, including new monthly local coffee meetups in Cambridge, Cardiff, Newcastle, North Wales & Winchester, and online as well. Click on the image above to enlarge the schedule, and note that if the first day of the month falls midweek then the first Friday may come before the first Monday!

The new pattern will also include afternoon learning meetups in more regions but less frequently in each. Already the schedule shows 3 per year in the South West and two plus our new Annual Conference in the Midlands & East. These will be joined by 3 per year in the North, and ultimately Wales. In London our bi-monthly afternoon learning meetups and evening drinks meetups will shift to quarterly, and be complemented by new evening learning meetups as well.

Our 2-day annual conference “The Power and Practice of Facilitation”, 18-19 October in Birmingham, will extend our previous all-day meetup for International Facilitation Week. You can expect a diverse range of highly interactive, peer-led parallel sessions to choose from, common to previous years, plus this year:

  • an opening keynote session on Friday sharing stories of the power of facilitation from the client perspective
  • a facilitated ‘Open Space’ session on Saturday to raise and address topics of your own, and/or to attend repeats of a few of the most popular parallel sessions
  • networking dinner & drinks on Thursday & Friday evenings
  • a prize raffle on Saturday afternoon including free facilitation kit, free personality profiling, free facilitation books and training, and more!

Discounts are available for early registrations until 30 June, and an additional 25% off all rates is available to IAF members. If you are not yet an IAF member and would like to join, you can save a whopping 25% on your first year’s membership if you buy it when you register for both days. See IAF: who we are and what we do (below) and learn about IAF membership.

We will continue to collaborate with others and share their facilitation-related learning & networking opportunities as well, not least those of our friends at partner Association IABC UK. Check out their upcoming events in London Listening workshop: a critical skill for communicators – why is it dying? on 1 May and Future Fit 2019: what is happening in the world of communications today, and tomorrow? on 23 May. IAF members may book for these at IABC member rates – if interested, please contact me.

We will be expanding our Leadership Team this year by inviting all our local meetup hosts to join us – online in Basecamp and (when they are available) for monthly zoom calls, and face-to-face in Birmingham on June 20 – in conjunction with a Midlands & East regional afternoon learning meetup.

We are also keen to welcome new members to our volunteer Leadership Team. Please contact us if you may be interested in any of the following opportunities in particular:

  • Regional meetup group organisers for the North of England, Wales and London & SE regions
  • Meetup hosts for new local coffee meetups in Brighton, Devon, Leeds, Liverpool, London & Nottingham – or wherever you are!
  • Podcasters to join our brand new new podcast team.

Or, please let us know how you would like to get more involved – for more information and to contact us, please see IAF England & Wales.

Please join us online also in our Facebook and LinkedIn groups and by following on Twitter and Instagram – using the hashtag of course! #IAFmeetup


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.

 

The power facilitation and communications in partnership

#ETF20 - celebrating 20 years with the European Training FoundationI am working with Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg on a book project, as part of a wider team of expert facilitators from around the world. The shorthand for the project is #FacPower and each chapter of the book will have a different focus. In combination the aim is to show the power of facilitation in various fields and contexts.

In our chapter we’ll be focusing on the intersect between communication and facilitation, and exploring the power of applying facilitation and communications in partnership. We will be sharing stories of how we’ve used some of their complementing (and contrasting) professional competencies, and the professional frameworks available.

To help organise this we’ll use a framework from the field of communications: The Global Standard of the Communications Profession. It covers:

  • Ethics
  • Consistency
  • Context
  • Analysis
  • Strategy
  • Engagement

We want to bring these to life – and we’ll be asking the global facilitation and comms communities to add ideas, and share their own stories.

Ultimately the aim is to help you deliver award-winning work. Work with an impact that stands the test of time. Work that matters.

Here’s just one such example we’ll be drawing on (which won awards from both IABC and IAF) – #ETF20.  Please go ahead and share your own ideas, stories and links in a comment below, or online with the hashtag #FacPower!

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 us in Birmingham for International Facilitation Week, and where you are! #FacWeek

We are excited to announce the draft programme for our annual all-day networking & learning Meetup of all four of our regional facilitation meetup groups, for International Facilitation Week #FacWeek – join us on Saturday 20 October in Birmingham!

This will be a participant-led, peer sharing event – an opportunity for you to network, share and learn with up to 50 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 included in our draft Programme are:

We will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the CPF programme, since the first CPFs gained their accreditation in Edinburgh in 1998, with a birthday cake; and we will celebrate the newest CPFs who gained their accreditation at the previous day’s CPF Assessment event in Birmingham. We will introduce members of the IAF E&W Leadership Team and candidates for the upcoming chapter Board election.

We invite you to bring a few of your favourite facilitation books and others resources to share with each other – for viewing only and/or for sale.

Prior to the meetup, on Oct 18-19 at BVSC, Martin Gilbraith CPF and Bill Staples CPF will be sharing 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.

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 at a bar & restaurant near the venue in central Birmingham – details to follow. Please RSVP now separately for Friday evening.

Download the draft Programme (pdf).

RSVPs, costs & cancellations

All are welcome, members and non-members of IAF alike. This is a non-commercial, peer networking & learning event. We are charging a fee of just £35 to help to cover venue costs. Lunch is also included. Cancellations received by 30 September may be refunded in full. No refunds will be issued after that date.

To book and pay to reserve your place, please RSVP now.

If you can’t join us then, join us at a local meetup near you soon – including coming up in Oxfordshire, Leeds, Warwick, London, Bristol, Exeter, Birmingham & Newcastle – follow the link to your regional meetup group at IAF England & Wales.


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.

Responding to changing situations and needs with ToP Consensus Workshop – #FacWeek

This is the 6th and last of a series of six weekly posts to mark International Facilitation Week 2017, starting today! Drafted as I enjoyed a welcome opportunity to pause and reflect this summer, the posts share a series of examples of how I have applied, customised and adapted the ToP Consensus Workshop method in my practice over the past year. 

How will you celebrate and promote the power of facilitation this week? Please share online with the #FacWeek hashtag, or in a comment below…


Example 6 – IABC UK, London

In May I facilitated a 2-hour evening strategy workshop with the UK Board of the International Association of Business Communicators. For more on my work with IABC, and my session at the recent IABC Europe MENA conference, see Facilitating transformation: reviewing the past to prepare for the future at #EuroComm17.

New IABC UK President Mike Pounsford is a keen ToP facilitator himself, and an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator. He had approached me to apply the Consensus Workshop method with the new Board of nine so that he could participate fully.  For an example of his own application of the method see Facilitation and Communication to lead ‘The Big Conversation’: Digital Transformation.

We quickly agreed that a ‘textbook’ Consensus Workshop process could help to meet the group’s needs well. These were articulated in terms of Rational & Experiential Aims as ‘to outline our strategic focus for IABC UK for the next 24 months, and what roles we will each play to help to deliver it‘ and ‘to build shared clarity, commitment and enthusiasm for the way forward together‘. The workshop Focus Question was to be ‘What practical projects & initiatives could help to deliver IABC’s mission & strategy in the UK in 2017-18?’.

The workshop was preceded by an opening conversation and a short presentation from Mike on the vision, purpose and philosophy of IABC as a whole, as parameters for IABC UK’s own strategy.

According to the textbook approach, Board members brainstormed their responses to the Focus Question individually, with the parameters in mind. They wrote ideas on half-sheets in pairs, which they shared on the sticky wall and clarified as necessary before pairing and clustering. The ‘adaptation in the moment’ came in finalising the Clustering stage of the workshop prior to Naming the clusters. It made no sense to the group to discern and name clusters unique to IABC UK’s 2017-18 strategy – what made sense was to map the brainstorm ideas to the three components of IABC’s global Purpose: ‘to advance the profession, to create connection and to develop strategic communicators’ .

So that is what we did. That allowed time then for members to self-select into three teams to to articulate the UK’s new strategic focus for each of the three areas, and to propose collective commitments.

I reflected to Mike, ‘I suppose we could have presented as a parameter that these [advance, connect and develop] would be the UK’s strategic focus, and we could have asked instead about collective commitments aligned with them. That might have saved a moment of doubt & confusion, but as you say perhaps at the expense of a sense of openness, possibility & engagement. A bit of challenge can be a valuable opportunity for a group to find its own way!’

Mike PounsfordMike replied: “I thought it was great, thank you for your help and for your agility in responding to the group’s needs. Most importantly we achieved consensus on a focus for our work for the next two years, which is to enhance the strategic communication capabilities of our members”.


Finally, in case you’re still wondering…

  • no group is too small for the ToP Consensus Workshop method – page 52 of the ICA:UK Group Facilitation Methods course workbook includes procedures for using the method on your own as an individual.
  • the method can work online as well as face-to-face, although like all online facilitation it will be different than when done face-to-face – see for example the Spilter ToP Consensus platform, specially developed to provide full digital support for the method, and see below a youtube video of an online ToP Consensus Workshop of ICA Ukraine using LinoIt with Google Hangout.
  • if you have nowhere to put a sticky wall, take advice from US ToP trainer Barbara MacKay of Northstar Facilitators, also in a youtube video below.

Start again from example 1…


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.

Responding to changing situations and needs with ToP Consensus Workshop – #FacWeek -1

This is the 5th of a series of six weekly posts to mark International Facilitation Week 2017, starting just 1 week from today. Drafted as I enjoyed a welcome opportunity to pause and reflect this summer, the posts share a series of examples of how I have applied, customised and adapted the ToP Consensus Workshop method in my practice over the past year. 

How will you celebrate and promote the power of facilitation this year? Please share online with the #FacWeek hashtag, or in a comment below…


Example 5 – Eurochild, Brussels

A good example of both customised design and adaptation in the moment was the General Assembly in Brussels in April of Eurochild, ‘a network of organisations and individuals working in and across Europe to promote the rights and well-being of children and young people‘. This involved around 100 individual members and member representatives plus Board members and Secretariat staff over two days.

One morning of the GA was designed as an opportunity to engage members in a year-long process to develop a new strategy for the network as a whole for 2019-21. The event had been preceded by an online survey of members, and was followed by a Participatory Strategic Planning retreat with Board, staff and a few key member representatives to develop the basis of the new strategy – for more in-depth consultation this autumn, with a view to final adoption at the next GA in April 2018. The Focus Question for the planning process as a whole was ‘How could Eurochild best mobilise and add value to the work of its members from 2019-21, to promote the rights & well-being of children & young people in Europe?

The design of the half-day member consultation began with an opening conversation and brief contextual presentations, followed by a 90 minute Consensus Workshop and then a series of ‘World Café’ style table conversations – to brainstorm and capture ideas for the Practical Vision, Current Reality and Strategic Directions stages of the Participatory Strategic Planning process respectively.

Participants sat at 13 pre-assigned tables of 8, each hosted by a Board or staff member. The workshop process was ‘super-sized’ as with ICUU, with whole-A4 sheets for writing ideas and all table hosts coming to the sticky wall at once to share ideas in turn and cluster quickly in columns under symbols as they did so. Cluster titles were drafted at tables and accepted without lengthy discussion or revision.

Also as with ICUU, it had been clear in the design process that a deep level of consensus would not be possible with such a large group in such a short time. It was also clear that such a consensus would not be necessary for this workshop, just one consultative element in a much longer and more elaborate process of consensus building over the course of a year.

The adaptation in the moment came in the Naming stage of the workshop. The Focus Question was ‘What would make us happy that the strategic planning process has been a success? (in terms of the new strategy & membership model themselves, in terms of member engagement in the process, and otherwise)’. The intent had been that the resulting ‘indicators of success’ would serve as guidelines and a means of accountability for the process of strategy development and member engagement over the year, and that substantive content for the new strategy would be contributed during the following World Cafe session.

What happened was that many of the ideas contributed in the workshop were in fact answers to the Practical Vision question ‘What do we want to see in place by 2021 as a result of delivering our new strategy? (how will Eurochild be different, and what difference will Eurochild have made?)‘. It made no sense to address the Vision question again separately, and it seemed to make more sense to accept that the group was ready to work on its Vision right away rather than to spend time first trying to name indicators of success. So what we did was to cluster the mix of ideas into 11 columns representing 11 vision elements, with just the original symbol to identify each. Then participants self-selected into 11 table groups to name the vision element on a flip chart, and also articulate relative to that element any indicators of success, current reality and practical projects and initiatives.

Jana Hainsworth, Secretary General at Eurochild, wrote in September:

“Great that we had structure, but also great that we could think on our feet to adjust the planning according to what we were hearing from members. All in all we got a huge amount of raw material for development of the strategic plan. The methodology clearly helped.”

Read on for example 6…


For more on my work, and what others have to say about it, please see how I workwho I work with and recommendations & case studies – or view my profile and connect with me on LinkedIn.

You can connect with me also by joining my free facilitation webinars online, and IAF England & Wales’ free facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere.