Another summer, another year of freelance facilitation

IAF India Conference, 2017 in Chennai - photo IAF India, facilitation Martin Gilbraith #ToPfacilitation #IAFIndia17 1

Another summer means another opportunity to pause and reflect, as in June I completed my fifth year in business as Martin Gilbraith Associates Ltd.  The image from last year’s IAF India conference in Chennai is of my plenary session subtitled “Reviewing the past to prepare for the future“. Like every good ORID process, a reflection or review must start with Objective level data.

The data tell me that in 2017-18 I have delivered 20 contracts for 16 clients in 6 countries, involving 20 face-to-face events and one virtual event and 10 facilitated processes and 11 facilitation training courses. Also that I spent 56 nights away from home, 3 in the UK and 53 abroad. That compares to 26 contracts involving 35 events in the previous year, and over the 5 complete years a total of 90 contracts to 53 clients in 18 countries involving 121 events – 109 face-to-face and 12 virtual, 69 facilitation and 52 training.  So it has been another busy year, albeit not quite such a bumper year as the previous, and a marked increase in the proportion of training to facilitation contracts.

Returning clients in the past year have included Amnesty InternationalGirls Not BridesLorensbergsOxfamWells for India and of course ICA:UK, and new clients have included the AlternativeArticle19CCLEdringtonEFFAEPIMGCFJMIC and NNC. So I have continued to work largely with international NGOs, foundations, associations, networks and alliances, largely in Europe and the Middle East and particularly in London and Brussels. However, the NGOs continue to include more campaigning as well as international development and humanitarian, the Associations continue to include industries as well as NGO networks, and new fields for me this year include Scotch whiskey, Danish politics and global catastrophic risks!

Somewhat fewer contracts this year has allowed somewhat more time for business and professional development.

In new partnerships with ICA:UK and ICA Associates I have extended my schedule of public facilitation training to include dates in London and Birmingham as well as Brussels and new courses of the new IAF-endorsed ‘ToP Facilitation Essentials’ programme, Meetings That Work and Facilitating Client Collaboration.

My networking and volunteering has been focused primarily on IAF England & Wales, where four regional groups totaling around 750 members are now hosting 5 or 6 meetups every month around the country, led by a virtual leadership team that meets monthly online. I finally joined IABC as a member this year, and became more active with IABC UK as well as presenting at EuroComm18 in Copenhagen, after collaborating for some years to build an informal partnership between IABC and IAF that resulted this year in a more formal MoU at the EMENA level.

I have also enjoyed opportunities to participate in and lead sessions at IAF conferences and events  during the year in Australia, Canada, France, India & Jordan, and at ICA regional gatherings in Nepal and Poland as well as in the UK.  I have been pleased to have been able to host five free facilitation webinars during the year, with colleagues of all of these networks that I respect very much. I am very excited to have begun collaborating with IABC past-President Michael Ambjorn and more than a dozen other IAF colleagues to co-author a book on the Power of Facilitation – for more as the project develops, follow us at @FacPower.

Since last summer’s 5-year review of participant feedback on my ToP facilitation courses, taster sessions & webinars I have been requesting post-course feedback 3-4 months after every training, so I hope to share some insights from that as well before long. Other substantial additions to this site during the year have included a series of cases studies on Responding to changing situations and needs with ToP Consensus Workshop, a new image gallery and (of course!) a Privacy policy.

With five public courses and half a dozen client contracts already in the pipeline for the autumn, another webinar and another IAF India conference and of course International Facilitation Week in Birmingham, it looks like there will continue to be plenty to blog about when I can find the time. Thank you for following!


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.

Join a free facilitation meetup near you!

Are you interested in connecting, networking & learning with other facilitators and with others with an interest in facilitation in England & Wales?

Join us online, and at one of our free facilitation meetups near you!

The International Association of Facilitators (IAF) is a participatory organisation with around 1,600 members in over 65 countries, and 40 local groups including IAF England & Wales (IAF E&W). As a professional association we set internationally accepted industry standards, provide accreditation, support a community of practice, advocate and educate on the power of facilitation and embrace the diversity of those who facilitate. To connect with others elsewhere in the world see IAF worldwide.

We are now over 400 ‘IAF facilitators & friends’ in three regional meetup groups, including over 65 members of IAF and 15 IAF Certified Professional Facilitators (CPFs), spread throughout England.

Everyone with an interest in group process facilitation is welcome, including facilitators and others who use or commission facilitation, and IAF members and non-members alike.

Please RSVP now for one of our regular free facilitation meetups near you:

RSVP now also for a special one-off meetup on June 15 in London with Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge introducing Cynefin and implications for ‘complex’­ facilitation.

All three regional groups will join together again for an all-day, all-England & Wales meetup for International Facilitation Week, in Birmingham on Saturday 21 October.  Join & RSVP in whichever group is more convenient to you – London & SE, North or South West.

We are working with IAF to schedule an additional Certified Professional Facilitator assessment event in the UK in November or December – for more information and to express an interest with IAF, please follow the link.

Please take a few minutes to complete our online survey, if you haven’t already, to help to make IAF England & Wales and our free facilitation meetups more valuable to you in the future. A new IAF E&W leadership team of nine will meet face-to-face in late May, to review your responses and to plan ahead to grow and develop our network and activities further, so please let us know your feedback and ideas now.

Please connect with us online also, by joining over 140 IAF England & Wales facilitators & friends in our facebook group, and by following and tweeting with IAF England & Wales on twitter. Join us also in the UK Facilitation Network group on LinkedIn.

For further information or with any questions, please contact me.

IAF England & Wales facilitators & friends – please complete our survey!

iaf-england-wales-facilitators-friends-750x480

Are you interested in connecting, networking & learning with other facilitators and with others with an interest in facilitation in England & Wales?

Please take a few minutes to complete our survey, to help to make IAF England & Wales and our free facilitation meetups more valuable to you in 2017. See below for a preview of the 8 simple survey questions, and please complete your responses at surveymonkey.

The International Association of Facilitators (IAF) is a participatory organisation with around 1,600 members in over 65 countries, and 40 local groups including IAF England & Wales (IAF E&W). As a professional association, we set internationally accepted industry standards, provide accreditation, support a community of practice, advocate and educate on the power of facilitation and embrace the diversity of facilitators.

If you have any questions about this survey or about IAF E&W, please contact me.

Thank you!
Martin Gilbraith, IAF E&W meetups organiser #IAFMeetUp


  1. First, please tell us about your connection with IAF E&W to date (please tick all that apply)
  2. Next, please tell us about your interest or experience in facilitation (please tick all that apply)
  3. Now please tell us what IAF events have you attended at least once in the past 2 years (please tick all that apply)
  4. What have you appreciated most about the events you have attended?
  5. What could have been better about the events you have attended?
  6. What different events, times or locations would encourage or enable you to attend, or attend more, in future?
  7. What other activities would you like to see from IAF E&W, or how else would you like to see IAF E&W develop?
  8. Please let us know where you are located – and, if you may be interested to help us to grow and develop our network and activities in 2017, your name & how to reach you.

Welcome to IAF England & Wales facilitators & friends’ free facilitation meetups!

iaf-england-wales-facilitators-friends-1000x565

Welcome to IAF England & Wales of the International Association of Facilitators, and our IAF facilitators & friends’ free facilitation meetups!

iaf-ew-members-jul-2016We are currently around 300 ‘IAF facilitators & friends’ in three regional meetup groups, including around 65 IAF members and 12 IAF Certified Professional Facilitators (CPFs) spread throughout England.

Everyone with an interest in group process facilitation is welcome, including facilitators and others who use or commission facilitation, and IAF members and non-members alike.

Please RSVP now for one of our free facilitation meetups near you:

All three regional groups will join together for an all-day, all-England & Wales meetup in Birmingham on Saturday 22 October for International Facilitation Week 2016. Join & RSVP in whichever group is more convenient to you – London & SE, North or South West.

Two CPF facilitator certification assessment days are scheduled for December 12 & 13 in London or Birmingham – to register for this event and be assessed before CPF fees rise in January, act now to submit your Part 1 application before the 15 September deadline – see Becoming a CPF.

Please use the meetup groups to convene additional meetups wherever & whenever suits you, according to your own interests in facilitation – please let me or another organiser know if we can be of any support.

Please connect with us online also, by joining over 100 IAF England & Wales facilitators & friends in our facebook group and by following and tweeting with IAF England & Wales on twitter. Join us also in the UK Facilitation Network group on LinkedIn.

For further information or with any questions, you are welcome also to contact me as IAF E&W meetup organiser. I look forward to meeting up with you soon!

Join IAF facilitators & friends for regular facilitation meetups in London and elsewhere

IAF EMENA meetupPlease take a moment to join IAF London facilitators and friends for free on MeetUp, in order to join IAF facilitators & friends for regular facilitation meetups in London – or now also join IAF South West England facilitators and friends and IAF North of England facilitators and friends, and please contact me if you are interested in helping to establish a sister group for the English Midlands or for Wales!

I have recently taken over the role of meetup group organiser from IAF England & Wales Chair Julia Goga-Cooke, who has been our meetup group organiser for the past two years. Thanks are due to her, and to IAF Europe MENA Director Martin Farrell, who has hosted our monthly meetups at Connexions Trafalgar Square until now.

Julia & Martin were both ready to be relieved of their responsibilities for the group, so with their support I have identified some new venues near me in Kings Cross, which I hope others will find convenient as well, and I have scheduled a new pattern of meetups for the new year – starting now.  Thanks to the continued sponsorship of IAF, they will all remain entirely free – to IAF members and non-members alike.

Please also take a look at our upcoming meetups, outlined below and in detail on meetup, and RSVP now for those that you plan to attend.

chaosThursday 12 November, 6-8pm will see the last of the monthly Informal networking & sharing meetup that we have been running for two years on the second Thursday evening of each month. For this month only I have booked the meeting room at the Travelodge Kings Cross Royal Scot Hotel, as we have 11 already booked and a presentation from Sheila & Christopher Cooke of 5Deep on “Facilitating Through Chaos”.

IAF coffee cupWednesday 2 December, 8.30-9.30am will see the first of a new monthly Morning coffee meetup, on the first Wednesday morning of every month. I have scheduled the first at Half Cup, midway between Kings Cross and Euston. For future morning meetups I’ll welcome suggestions of other coffee shops elsewhere – somewhere different every month, or Half Cup if that works well enough. I’ll be glad to start earlier or stay later if that would suit others better.

IAF wine glassMonday 14 December, 6-8pm will see the first of a new bi-monthly Informal networking and social meetup, over drinks and/or food in a pub, cafe or restaurant on the 3rd Monday evening of every other month (except for this first one on December 14) . For this first one I shall book a table at the dining room of the spacious Parcel Yard gastropub within Kings Cross station.  For future evenings I’ll welcome offers from others to book us anywhere else in London that you want to suggest – we could meet somewhere different every time, or we could continue with the Parcel Yard.

IAFEMENA15 chaptersTuesday 19 January, 2-6pm will see the first of a more substantial bi-monthly Networking and learning meetup, for four hours on the 3rd Tuesday afternoon of every other month (alternating with the Monday evening social meetups). For these I have prebooked the meeting room of the Calthorpe Project community centre on Grays Inn Road, overlooking the community garden.

I hope that these meetups will allow time and space for us to demonstrate, practice and experiment with our facilitation together, and share feedback on that, as well as share presentations and support through discussion as we have been doing on our monthly Thursday evenings to date. I hope that the timing and location might also attract and enable people to travel from outside of London to join us as well – even from neigbouring IAF groups in Scotland, Paris or Brussels (we will be a 10 minute walk from the Eurostar terminal). There are of course plenty of pubs and restaurants nearby for those wishing to continue informally afterwards over food or drink, including a great value pre-7pm menu at the Union Taven.

IAFEMENA15 story tellingI have also suggested a one-day annual conference, perhaps during International Facilitation Week 2016 next October; and a CPF assessment event for IAF Certified Professional Facilitator candidates.  If we have enough CPF candidates for an assessment in London then that can be arranged with IAF, and we could even arrange some meetup support for candidates as they prepare their applications and portfolios.

Please contact me if you have any questions or other suggestions, or if you are interested to join me as a co-organiser of the London group – to share the leadership, to help to attract people to attend, present and facilitate at events, and to schedule any additional events.

For those based elsewhere in England & Wales, please join IAF South West England facilitators and friends and IAF North of England facilitators and friends, and please contact me if you are interested in helping to establish a sister group for the English Midlands or for Wales.

Finally, please let me know also if you are an IAF member and interested in joining the IAF England & Wales leadership team, as there are also vacancies for that. There is surely potential for further local activity beyond these meetup groups so, if you have ideas and are ready to help to make them happen, please step forward!

Join us now to RSVP for upcoming events, and for news and updates on future events.  I hope to see you soon!

Now we are global: ICAI facilitates interchange in Brussels

This piece ‘from the archive’ was first written for Network Exchange, newsletter of ICA International, in September 1998 when I had first joined the ICAI Board.  ICAI is now registered in Canada and it’s newsletter is Winds and Waves, but ICA Belgium is still going strong and I continue to visit Brussels – this week for client meetings, and next month to deliver ToP Group Facilitation Methods and Action Plannning training.  Click on the photos to enlarge them, and see who you can recognise!

ICAI 1998 General AssemblyPatrick Mbullu and I represented ICA:UK at the General Assembly of ICA International in August. As Vice Presidents elect, Mangla Gavai of ICA India, Edward Mutiso of ICA Kenya and I also worked in advance with Dick Alton of ICAI to design and facilitate the event.

The 45 delegates represented 23 member ICAs and ICAI. Day 1 was devoted to continental and global reporting and interchange. Days 2 & 3 looked at the global work of ICA including global conferences and networking, and ICAI finances, secretariat, Executive Committee elections and new membership applications. Days 4 & 5 looked at local work of member ICAs, particularly in terms of developing standards for institutional structure and strengthening, for new and existing ICAs. As a whole group we took a Brussels ‘pub crawl’ one night, and we celebrated the acceptance of five new member ICAs in a closing ceremony.

ICAI General Assembly 1998The occasion also provided opportunity for much bilateral interchange among participants between sessions – in my case, related to discussing potential volunteer placements and funding partnerships, but also social.

Minutes of the General Assembly

The Institute of Cultural Affairs International held its General Assembly at its headquarters at rue Amédée Lynen 8, 1210 Bruxelles, from 24 through 28 August 1998.

Members present were: ICA Australia, ICA Belgium, ICA Benin, ICA Bosnia i Herzegovina, ICA Canada, ICA Côte d’Ivoire, ICA Egypt, ICA Germany, ICA Ghana, ICA Guatemala, ICA Hong Kong, ICA India, ICA Japan, ICA Kenya, ICA Nepal, ICA Netherlands, ICA Spain, ICA Tanzania, ICA Uganda, ICA United Kingdom, ICA United States and ICA Zambia.

ICAI General Assembly 1998The Board of Directors elected Donald Elliott, USA, as President; Ruth Lukona, Zambia, as Secretary; Myriam Balbela, Venezuela, as Treasurer; Mangla Gavai, India, Edward Mutiso, Kenya, and Martin Gilbraith, United Kingdom, as Vice Presidents.

ICAI General Assembly 1998The General Assembly voted unanimously to change Article 12 of the statutes to read: “The Institute is administered by a Board of Directors comprised of two to fifty members. One member at least of the Board of Directors must be of Belgian nationality.”

The Assembly unanimously accepted ICA Ghana, ICA Nepal, ICA Tanzania and ICA Uganda as statutory members; and ICA Benin as an Associate Member.

The Assembly unanimously approved the financial accounts for the year 1997 and the budgets for the year 1999.

ICAI General Assembly 1998The General Assembly approved plans for ICAI to sponsor a Global Conference in the USA during the year 2000.

The General Assembly set the date for its next meeting in the year 2002.

Participants’ highlights

“Exchange! Honestly, I felt that’s the value ICA should keep! It’s good to be a part of Global Society, community… We thought we were forgotten, it’s nice to be back…” – Nejira Nalic, ICA:BiH

“We really have so much in common re mission & concerns & care even in the midst of our enriching differences. Face to face connection is invaluable. ICA is ready to really release & enlarge its global impact.” – Kathleen Joyce, ICA:USA

“A new knowledge. It was like an “intensive” training which I had expected since I came in contact with ICAI.” – Tatwa Timsina, ICA Nepal

“At this moment in history, this is readiness for reconciliation, rebuilding, and community within and beyond ICA.” – Wayne Ellsworth, ICA Japan

“Desire to reorganise and build our international image.” – Lambert Okrah, ICA Ghana

“Re-emerging global strategies especially in the Americas” – Ray Caruso, ICA:USA

“With all the wonderful diversity it encompasses, we are closer to a common understanding that will facilitate learning.” – Hala El Kholy, ICA MENA

“The people are open to new ideas and to support and welcome newcomers. There’s a lot of willingness and motivation and also possibilities to make things happen and a lot of experience in different fields.” – Adinda de Vries, ICA Netherlands

“Such kind of conference, meeting are important for us, because we learn at anytime – we share ideas, strategies. So a report in French might be appreciated.” – Koffi Nestor Amoin, ICA Côte d’Ivoire

“This is the first Global assembly of the ICA I have been privileged to attend. We used to say we were global when we saw westerners all over the world. Now we are global!” – Julie Miesen, ICA Australia

“I felt power in the room and lots of commitment. In a way I felt that all this globally/widely spread force can make a difference in world development & become more transparent in world development & recognised by other people. Global advocacy campaign?” – Slavica Bradvic, ICA:BiH