Facilitator neutrality in the context of war and oppression #StandWithUkraine

Ukraine anti-war protest, 6 March 2022 in London

“We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Olga Gulaya, facilitator – Kyiv, 6 March 2022.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness – Amnesty International

The supposed ‘neutrality’ of the facilitator has been something of a bone of contention among facilitators for as long as I can remember. Perhaps because of that contention, the word neutrality does not appear in the Statement of Values and Code of Ethics that all IAF members are required to support, although it does appear in the Core Competencies that all IAF Certified Professional Facilitators are required to demonstrate and evidence.

IAF Statement of Values

As group facilitators, we believe in the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group. We strive to help the group make the best use of the contributions of each of its members. We set aside our personal opinions and support the group’s right to make its own choices. We believe that collaborative and cooperative interaction builds consensus and produces meaningful outcomes. We value professional collaboration to improve our profession.

F3. Trust group potential and model neutrality

  • Honour the wisdom of the group
  • Encourage trust in the capacity and experience of others
  • Vigilant to minimise influence on group outcomes
  • Maintain an objective, non-defensive, non-judgmental stance

What I think is apparent, notwithstanding competence F3, is that facilitation is not a neutral practice or profession at all. It is not neutral to support some values over others, or some competencies over others. It is not neutral to advocate for facilitation to be “used throughout the world to address the challenges faced by people in their groups, organizations and communities” as the IAF Vision does.

While we “set aside our personal opinions and support the group’s right to make its own choices“, and while “we are vigilant to minimize our influence on group outcomes” and “maintain an objective, non-defensive, non-judgmental stance“, we “believe in the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group“, we “do not impose anything that risks the welfare and dignity of the participants” and we “strive to engender an environment of respect and safety where all participants trust that they can speak freely and where individual boundaries are honoured“.

While we must strive to ‘model neutrality’ in respect of the content of the group’s work, in order to be effective in our role as facilitator, we need not and perhaps cannot be neutral to it. We cannot and must not be neutral to the group’s process. We must demonstrate and advocate for respect, equity and inclusion, for dialogue and consensus.

To demonstrate and advocate for the values and competencies that we believe are needed to improve group effectiveness and to address the challenges faced by people around the world, we must stand up for them and we must be seen and heard to stand up for them. That must mean also standing up against those systems and structures of power, discrimination and oppression, violence and war, that deny the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group, that risk people’s welfare and dignity and that obstruct or destroy an environment of respect and safety.

As I wrote last September in Reflecting on a year of freelance facilitation online, and looking ahead, “I have been challenged by the Black Lives Matter movement and other recent manifestations and responses to systemic injustice and oppression, and by clients who have been similarly challenged, to reflect on how I might ensure that my own practice is more effectively and explicitly anti-racist, feminist and anti-oppressive, and to commit to working on that.“. That work has already included joining the excellent Feminist Leadership Programme of We Are Feminist Leaders and seeking to ally with others by offering Free facilitation coaching.

More recently I have been shocked and appalled by the unfolding Russian invasion of Ukraine. I have been concerned for the safety and well-being of IAF and ICA colleagues that I have worked with in Ukraine, and more recently in Russia. I have been struggling to know how to respond, knowing that I cannot know what is needed and that anything that I do will not be enough.

I have been awed and inspired by much of the resolve, resistance, solidarity and leadership that I have seen in response to the war. I am grateful to those colleagues in Kyiv who have challenged me this week to realise that every show of support is valued, and that support that is unseen and unheard is no support at all. I am grateful also to those colleagues in Moscow who have shown support and resistance themselves.

ICAI Sunflowers

I am thankful that ICA colleagues are mobilizing together to show solidarity and support in Standing with the peoples of Ukraine, and that IAF colleagues too are making plans to do so.

Please do whatever little you can to add your support, and to show your support and solidarity. #StandWithUkraine️



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.

Join us in promoting the power of facilitation worldwide this #FacWeek!

Happy Facilitation Week 2021, starting today!

Facilitation Week is a participatory experience that inspires synergy and celebrates the act of group facilitation. Held in the third week of October each year, it’s purpose is to showcase the power of facilitation to both new and existing audiences, and to create a sense of community among facilitators and their groups worldwide. To join in as a participant, facilitator or sponsor, see facilitationweek.org.

The mission of our #FacPower book project too is to promote the power of facilitation worldwide. So, what better opportunity could there be for us to share a brief update on how we have been working to do just that, and how you can get involved?

The #FacPower story so far…

How you can get involved

Please…

  • download and read the whole book, or whichever chapters interest you most
  • rate the book on Goodreads, and add a brief review there – that will help many other readers to find it
  • share your reflections and questions on your own website, blog or social media with the #FacPower hashtag and a link to facpower.org, and mention or tag the relevant contributors – let’s deepen and broaden the conversation together
  • if you have your own blog, podcast or other publication, contact us to arrange an interview or online session with one or more of our contributors
  • contact us if you are interested to translate of all or some of the book into your own language – see our translation page for what support we are ready to offer and what we will expect from you
  • contact us if you are interested to share your skills to help us to develop new editions including print-on-demand, an audio-book and a podcast series
  • follow, like, connect and engage with us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn & YouTube
  • refer to our media kit and Creative Commons license for the resources you need to otherwise help to get the word out, or to use excerpts from the book
  • last but not least, please donate generously to the International Association of Facilitators Bursary Fund, to support IAF too to promote the power of facilitation worldwide.

Thank you!


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

The Power of Facilitation – now available!

“Facilitation simply works. It is a critical skill needed in government, civil society, and business, if humanity is to deal with climate chaos, ecocide, racism, fascism, and other challenges. Thank you for this powerful book.”

Robertson Work, author of A Compassionate Civilization, former UNDP policy adviser, New York Professor, New York

 

Download

We are excited to share with you the Power of Facilitation! #FacPower

The 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.

Download

The Power of Facilitation #FacPower

Future editions will include an Epub version soon, and we hope a print version in October for International Facilitation Week 2021. In the meantime we will post each chapter in turn to this blog over the summer.

For news – follow the FacPower blog and connect with us also on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn & YouTube.


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

Is there a single, universal principle of facilitation? – IAF Belgium webinar recording & slides

Is there a single, universal principle of facilitation?

Thank you again to all those who attended this session yesterday, and especially to IAF Belgium for the invitation.

This session introduces a simple but powerful and versatile model that can be applied as a tool and even as a guiding principle. It can help facilitators to engage and empower their groups with greater confidence and versatility, to better enable them to make the change that they are seeking in the world.

The session is equally suitable for newcomers to facilitation and for experienced facilitators who are new to ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) methodology, and those who would like to deepen their understanding of the ToP ‘ORID’ model as a design tool.

The session is adapted from one originally delivered at the 2015 IAF Europe MENA conference in Stockholm, that has since been repeated a number of times both face-to-face and online.


The recording and other outputs follow:


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.

Scaling up engagement and dialogue – IAF webinar recording & outputs

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

Thank you again to the 100 or so who attended this session yesterday, and especially to IAF for the invitation and to Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg for co-hosting with me.

In this session we explored the ladder of engagement, and how we can climb it with those that we work with. We invited you to share your experience in changing the conversation, at scale, so we can all become better at it.  We explored 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 drew on some insights of previous work on the power of partnership between facilitation and communication, including research for our chapter in the forthcoming book the Power of Facilitation #FacPower.

We applied some of the tools of the two professions to generate new insights together, including four external digital tools in addition to zoom – Google Docs, Easyretro, Flinga and Mentimeter.


The slides, recording and other session outputs follow here:

Contact details and zoom chat have been shared by email with participants only – if you have not received yours, please contact me.


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.