Free facilitation webinar – the Power of Facilitation and Communication in partnership

Free facilitation webinar - the Power of Facilitation and Communication in partnership #FacPower #ETF20

Are you interested to learn more about facilitation, and ICA’s Technology of Participation (ToP) in particular – in a free, one-hour, interactive online session that offers an experience of virtual facilitation as well? Register now on Eventbrite for this latest addition to my series of free facilitation webinars.


The Power of Facilitation and Communication in partnership

Tuesday 26 February 2019, 15.00 UK time 

In this session we will explore the intersect between communication and facilitation, and the power of applying the professional skills and tools of facilitation and communication in partnership with each other.

I shall be joined for this session by Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg; and again by Sunny Walker of the Virtual Facilitation Collaborative.

Michael and I are currently working on this theme to draft a chapter for a forthcoming book that aims to showcase the power of facilitation in various fields and contexts. The shorthand for the book project is #FacPower, and chapters are being authored and illustrated by a global team of expert facilitators and visual practitioners from all around the world.

We have been exploring this intersect between facilitation and communication, and working to build bridges and promote learning & collaboration between the two professions and their professional associations, since around 2013 – when I had just completed a term as Chair of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) and Michael was just embarking on a term as Chair of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). We encourage members of both associations and and both professions, and others, to join us – all welcome!

We will share insights and stories from our own experience and others, from both professions, on how facilitation and communications competencies (and facilitators and communicators themselves) can support and add value to each each other. Just one such example that we’ll be drawing on (which won awards from both IABC and IAF) is #ETF20.

We will invite you to share your own reflections, insights and stories as well – for you to learn from each other during the session, and perhaps also (with permission and attribution) to contribute to the chapter and help to bring it to life.

We will also seek to demonstrate what we are talking about, through co-creating with you a highly engaging and interactive online session – the power of facilitation and communication in partnership!

The session, like the chapter, will draw on IABC’s Global Standard of the Communications Profession and IAF’s Core Facilitation Competencies.


Each session in this series is hosted in Adobe Connect for a highly interactive learning experience. Each topic is addressed by a short case study or other presentation, with links to further online material for later reference. In the sessions we apply tools and techniques of virtual facilitation to help participants to engage with the material and the presenter, and with their own and each other’s experience on the topic. A short technical orientation directly before the session introduces the features of the virtual meeting room, and the tools to be used. A brief closing reflection at the end of the session invites reflection and learning on the facilitation process and virtual tools, as well as on the content of the session

Register now on Eventbrite.


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.

Leading the Big Conversation at #IAFEMENA17 in Paris

Join Mike Pounsford and me for our session at the upcoming 2017 IAF EMENA conference Boosting positive change – the power of facilitation, October 13-15 in Paris! Our session Leading the Big Conversation will be on the Saturday afternoon from 2pm.

This facilitated workshop will illustrate the Big Conversation process, and help you to explore your future using visuals and conversations. The Big Conversation supports the implementation of change by enabling teams to understand strategic goals and translate them to local actions. It uses visual approaches that are memorable, accessible and relevant. The workshop will be experiential, and illustrate this approach using insights and ideas generated by participants thinking about their own futures.

Like me, Mike is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator and an enthusiastic user of ICA’s Technology of Participation. He is also President of IABC UK, the UK chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. For more on our efforts to promote mutual learning and collaboration between facilitators and communicators and partnership between IAF and IABC, and on my session at the recent IABC Europe MENA conference in London, see Facilitating transformation: reviewing the past to prepare for the future at #EuroComm17.

See also Facilitation and Communication to lead ‘The Big Conversation’: Digital Transformation.

Register now to join us! I understand that IABC members are welcome to register for the conference at IAF member rates.


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.

 

Facilitating transformation: reviewing the past to prepare for the future at #EuroComm17

#eurocomm17

I am excited to be attending and presenting at this year’s IABC Europe MENA conference #EuroComm17 in London in March. It promises to be a fantastic opportunity for facilitation professionals to connect, learn & collaborate with their counterparts in the communications profession. Register now to join me, or contact me first to benefit from my ‘invite a friend’ discount code.

CCjkUYmXIAAZqK9.jpg largeIt seems that the time is increasingly ripe to bring our two communities and skill sets closer together. I was inspired by attending EuroComm15 in London two years to blog, in Power to the People, and the power of facilitation and communications in partnership, on the potential that I saw for greater mutual learning and collaboration between facilitators and communicators and for partnership between IAF and IABC.

#FacWeekChat 2015Since then I have collaborated with fellow IAF London member and past-IABC Chair Michael Ambjorn to engage members of both associations & professions on the question What does it take for people to align behind change? – first in a twitter chat and then in a webinar. Several IABC members have taken ToP facilitation training with me, joined IAF and even gained the IAF Certified Professional Facilitator designation. More recently IABC EMENA Board member Kasha Dougall has blogged on When communicators become facilitators, and IAF Denmark member Charlotte Ditloev Jensen has joined the EuroComm17 speaker list with her session Transformation from within: How facilitation techniques can expand the organizational impact of communication.

The theme of EuroComm this year  – TRANSFORMATION: Adapt • Invent • Evolve – is a key aspect of any ever-changing and growing profession. Presentations will cover everything from constantly reinventing ourselves as professionals, to keeping pace with technology, to navigating the ever-changing political, social and workplace landscape.

etf20In my own workshop, Facilitating transformation: reviewing the past to prepare for the future, I shall demonstrate a participatory approach for a group to review the past to prepare for the future, by applying the ToP Historical Scan method to reflect together on the journey of development of the communications profession. I will be joined by IABC past­-chair Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg and Alastair Macphail of the European Training Foundation (ETF) to share a case study of the method in action “Celebrating 20 years with the European Training Foundation in Turin – #ETF20”  This project in 2015 won an IABC Gold Quill Award and an IAF Facilitation Impact Award. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on how they might apply the method themselves. The session is adapted from my 2014 IAF conference session on the history of facilitation, in IAF’s 20th anniversary year, Reviewing the past to prepare for the future: #FacHistory in Copenhagen.

Register now to join me, or contact me first to benefit from my ‘invite a friend’ discount code. See you then!


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

Register now on Eventbrite for my free facilitation webinars, and for my regularly scheduled ToP facilitation training courses in London and Brussels.

The First Peoples

This article was written for ICAI Winds and Waves, September 2015 issue.

Winds and Waves Sep 2015Welcome to this issue of Winds & Waves, the online magazine of ICA International, entitled “The First Peoples”.

ICA has been working with indigenous peoples at least since one of the earliest ICA Human Development Projects was established with an aboriginal community in Mowanjum, Australia, in 1971.  This issue shares stories of how ICAs and ICA colleagues continue to work with the “First Peoples” in Australia, and in Canada and Chile as well.

A number of stories focus on the application of appropriate and innovative new technologies, including in strawberry cultivation in India and in earth bag construction in Nepal. Others tell of philanthropy and funding partnerships in Africa, Australia, India and Japan.  Others still focus on the application of participatory methods, in particular ICA’s “Technology of Participation”, in countries including Hong Kong, South Korea and Mongolia.  Healing and reconciliation, disaster recovery and social transformation feature in stories from Australia, Canada, Egypt and Nepal. Such is the richness and diversity of our members’ work in “advancing human development worldwide”, much of it pursued in partnership, “peer-to-peer”.

Also in this issue you will read of recent developments in the global affairs of ICA International, not least relating to the online ICAI General Assembly held in July. We are delighted to welcome three new Associate members to our global community, and to include contributions from two of them in this issue – from the Safe Neighbourhood Foundation in Uganda and the ORP Institute in South Korea.  We are excited by the quickening pace of face-to-face network gatherings emerging around the world, including regional gatherings upcoming in West Africa, Asia Pacific and Europe MENA and emerging prospects for a global conference next year in partnership with Initiatives of Change in Switzerland.

We are also excited to have launched our ICAI website in September, after months of collaborative design and development this year. This dynamic site is designed to provide an engaging platform for member ICAs and ICA colleagues to communicate with each other and with the wider world. you will use and share it! Please do take a look around, and share your comments on the site or contact us directly with your feedback and suggestions.

Thank you to those who have contributed to this issue, and to our tireless editorial team for bringing it all together in such a beautiful new design for us.

Enjoy this issue of Winds & Waves, September 2015, and please share it and encourage others to do so.

Exploring the human factor in global change, and prospects for partnership, at Caux

This post was written for ICAI Winds and Waves, September 2015 issue.


Caux PalaceThe week before last I was in Switzerland to support the design and facilitation of Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business, a conference of Initiatives of Change (IofC) at Caux Palace – a fairy-tale castle of an international conference centre, high above Montreux and enjoying stupendous views down along Lake Geneva.  As luck would have it, Jonathan Dudding of ICA:UK was there the same week supporting the parallel International Peacebuilders Forum conference, and world leaders of IofC International were beginning to gather for their IofC Global Assembly the following week. As a result, Jonathan and I were able to meet together with leaders of IofC Caux and IofC International to discuss prospects for a global partnership conference of ICA and IofC at Caux next year.

I came away (‘down from the mountain’, as they say with good reason at Caux) encouraged and enthused for the prospects of such a partnership – by my experience of the conference and the conference centre, and by what I learned of IofC and the commonalities and potential for synergies between it and ICA.  I am excited therefore that, since then, ICA International has decided in its online General Assembly in the last week to seek to develop such a partnership with IofC. So, how did such a proposal come about, and what can I say from my own experience at Caux about how I see the prospects for such a partnership?

ICA:UK and ICA Spain have partnered with IofC Caux over several years now to support the design and facilitation of their annual summer season of international conferences, and in providing ‘Technology of Participation’ (ToP) facilitation training for IofC members and others – next scheduled for 25-26 November in Geneva. Other connections and collaborations between individual members of ICA and IofC around the world date back over 30 years in some cases, in countries including Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and Ukraine. Ideas for building on these foundations to explore the potential for broader collaboration have been brewing for a year or two among those involved on both sides.

A partnership approach to a global conference in Caux in 2016 was proposed to ICAI last December by ICA:UK, with the support of ICA Spain and other European ICAs, to follow ICAI’s 8th quadrennial Global Conference on Human Development in Kathmandu in 2012.  This proposal was recommended to the ICAI General Assembly by its Global Conference working group, and approved in principle this last week. Parallel conversations have been underway within IofC, including at its recent Global Assembly in Caux, and we hope to be able establish a joint committee in the autumn to develop a partnership and our approach to the conference together.

I have found numerous encouraging parallels in our respective histories and approaches. Initiatives of Change describes itself as ‘a world-wide movement of people of diverse cultures and backgrounds, who are committed to the transformation of society through changes in human motives and behaviour, starting with their own’. It was founded in the late 1930s as the Moral Rearmament Movement by Frank Buchman, a charismatic American minister whose ideas and practices had been developed largely working with students in what had been known as the Oxford Group. The once-grand but then derelict Caux Palace Hotel was purchased and refurbished by Swiss supporters, in time to open in 1946 as an international conference centre where those who had suffered in the war could come together and build new relationships. Further centres were established in the USA and around the world, supporting reconciliation and peace-building through dialogue and, particularly at the Westminster Theatre in London, also through drama.  Today IofC international comprises member organisations in around 40 countries worldwide. IofC Caux hosts a series of international conferences over three months every summer, under the banner “Exploring the human factor in global change” and with the aim “to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves”.

ICA (the Institute of Cultural Affairs) was founded somewhat later, but also from a faith-based movement, as the secular successor organisation to the earlier Ecumenical Institute and University-based Faith and Life Community founded by the American former Methodist minister Joseph Wesley Mathews in the 1950s & 60s. ICA describes itself as a global community of non-profit organisations ‘advancing human development worldwide’ – sharing a ‘concern with the human factor in world development’ and seeking to mobilise and support individuals to transform themselves in order to transform their communities, organisations and societies (‘Changing Lives, Changing Societies‘). ICA pioneered its approach, including ‘imaginal education’ and what became known as the ‘Technology of Participation’ facilitation methods, in the west side of Chicago in the 1960s. ICA USA’s GreenRise building in Chicago was rescued from dereliction by volunteer labour and in-kind contributions in the early 1970s, to serve for many years as ICAs global headquarters and venue for its annual summer Global Research Assemblies, forerunners to the quadrennial ICA Global Conference on Human Development since 1984.  The ‘Band of 24’ pilot Human Development Projects in each of the 24 time zones worldwide, launched in 1976 (40 years ago next year), became the basis of today’s network of member organisations and groups in around 40 countries – about half of them countries in common with IofC.

My experience of the AEUB conference at Caux suggests that we have more in common than aspects of our histories, the language we use to describe our approaches, and our shared vision of a just and sustainable world for all.  Participants familiar with ICA’s centres in Chicago, Brussels and elsewhere, and with our tradition of living and working together in community, will welcome the expectation at Caux that everyone contributes to the care of the community and broadens and deepens their relationships by taking part in kitchen duties together. They will also welcome the time for collective reflection and for other spirit practice that is scheduled daily at Caux, as a reflection of ICA’s tradition and practice as well. They may be pleased to find that most bedrooms in the former Caux Palace Hotel have their own bathrooms (unlike many ICA facilities of the same era), and they will likely find the simple and even antique furnishings and fixtures as charming as I did. Certainly few visitors will fail to be impressed by the views from their windows and balconies, and from the garden and terrace below – the mountain location, accessed by funicular from the lakeside, was well chosen indeed for a retreat centre.

I hope that we may find plenty to learn from our differences, as well as our similarities. Whereas ICA’s focus is primarily on community and more recently organisational development, and through demonstration projects engaging the disempowered, I understand that IofC’s focus is primarily on reconciliation and peace-building, and through dialogue engaging citizens with those in power. I expect that IofC’s activities and emphases have diversified over time and geography as ICA’s have, however, and that our own people and our partners worldwide would find much to share with and learn from each other on their diverse experiences of leadership and change in their own contexts.

AEUB opening plenaryFrom a practical point of view, I think ICA could benefit greatly from Caux’s well established year-round capacity to manage the logistics of conference organisation, from handling international registrations and finances to mobilising and managing teams of summer interns and volunteer interpreters. I expect IofC could also benefit more from ICA’s participatory process design and facilitation expertise, as it has begun to do in recent years for its own conferences. The venue itself I found to be well equipped with a wide variety of spaces and facilities, from small break-out rooms and gallery spaces, terraces and gardens, to a tiered auditorium, a large and fully-equipped theatre and of course the Grand Hall. I understand that the capacity of around 400 in total allows comfortably for around 270 conference delegates at a time, in addition to the many resident volunteers, staff and other visitors.

This year’s AEUB conference seemed to me to be very well received by its impressively international, multi-lingual and multi-generational participants.  I look forward to being able to share in making the ‘magic of Caux’ again in future conferences – starting, I hope, with a 2016 partnership conference ‘exploring the human factor’ in global change and development.

For more on Initiatives of Change at Caux, find them on twitter, flickr and youtube.

A Quaker Congo partnership, for peace and development in Eastern DRC

This piece ‘from the archive’ was first published in the June 2008 newsletter of the Manchester & Warrington Area Quaker Meeting. I had just returned from a partnership project visit to Eastern DRC on behalf of Cambridge and Manchester Quakers – see also Building Links with Congo YM in The Friend.

I subsequently joined the committee of Quaker Congo Partnership, which is now an independent UK charity (see QCP March 2015 newsletter), and still working in partnership with local Quakers and others for peace and development in Eastern DRC.


Students of the Friends Peace Centre literacy class, UviraI was born and brought up a Quaker, in Edinburgh and Cambridge, and transferred my membership to Mount Street meeting when I moved to Manchester in 1995. Although I have seldom attended meeting since my teenage years in the early 1980s, I didn’t want to let my membership lapse, so I am grateful to have been accepted by the meeting as a non-attender all these years.

What finally prompted me to show my face among Friends again was my recent trip to visit Quakers in Eastern Congo (DRC) in February, on behalf of Cambridgeshire Area Meeting.  My mother Janet Gilbraith is active in their “Congo Group”, through which the meeting has been supporting the work of Congo Yearly Meeting (CEEACO, the Community of Evangelical Churches of Friends in the Congo) for several years.

On the strength of my many years of experience working in international development, including some experience of Africa, and in spite of my rather limited recent involvement with Friends, I was regarded as a suitable companion to Hazel Shellens of Huntingdon Local Meeting for a one week visit.  Our aims were to demonstrate to Congo Friends that Friends here are alongside them, and to assess how best we might be able to help them in the future, both financially and otherwise.

Manchester Friends may remember Mkoko Boseka of CEEACO from his several weeks in Manchester last summer, after attending the Friends World Triennial in Dublin.  He had spent time with Cambridge Friends on the same visit.  After learning that Manchester Friends also had a connection with Mkoko and CEEACO, and a wider interest in the Congo as well, I made myself known and invited Manchester Friends to also take advantage of the trip to develop their links with CEEACO as well.

CEEACO’s Trauma Clinic and Peace Garden is to be built on the lake shore at Abeka - there is already a sign at the main roadI shall not describe our trip here in any detail, or what we saw and learned of CEEACO.  Some of you may have attended the slide show I presented at Mount Street in March, and whether you did or not, you can view it yourself online – 89 photos with captions, plus links to video clips and other sites. To do so, point your browser at http://www.flickr.com/photos/24338406@N05 or go to www.flickr.com and search for “CEEACO2008” (in “People”).  A few of the photos are reprinted here, and I would be happy to deliver the slideshow in person again for other groups – please get in touch to let me know.

Also, I shall not explain here in any detail what I have learned about the country and the region – except that it has suffered as many as 5.4 million deaths in the recent wars since 1996, although these barely registered in the media or public consciousness in the West; and an unparalleled history of brutal exploitation of its people and its wealth of natural resources by outside forces, both during and since Colonial times.  Since I first began to read, feeling quite ignorant of the country and the region, to help me decide whether to take up the opportunity of visiting the Congo, I became quite obsessed and read over a dozen books in a few months – not to mention a number of reports and other publications on the invaluable online resource Relief Web.  For those who are interested in finding out more, I have listed the books that I found helpful.

I shall say here, however, that we were very well looked after, the trip went smoothly, and it served our aims well – and I returned inspired by the people I had met and by what I had seen and learned, and enthused to encourage Manchester and other Friends to join with Cambridge Area Meeting in expanding and extending their support to CEEACO.  I was happy to be able to deliver greetings, as well as a laptop computer for use at the Friends Peace Centre in Uvira, from Manchester Area Meeting – and also to deliver greetings and thanks from CEEACO to Manchester AM in return.

Hazel with members of the Women's Yearly meeting, in front of the Abeka field cultivated by widows as an income generating activityBased on what we saw and learned, and on the clear requests and priorities of Congo Friends, Hazel and I have recommended to Cambridge AM the outline of a 3-year partnership agreement with CEEACO for ongoing support for their work in Abeka  – in particular the community hospital, the Trauma Clinic Peace Garden project, and a women’s revolving loan fund.  This would entail a commitment to substantially increased financial support to CEEACO, while still sufficiently modest to be within their and our capacity to manage it effectively.  We have included in our recommendation that we take advantage of the opportunity for experienced local support and monitoring by CAPI, a Kenya-based international NGO with long experience of working with CEEACO on behalf of Quaker Service Norway.

We hope that Cambridge AM will decide to commit to financing at least part of the budget from existing funds, but additional contributions from Manchester and/or other meetings, and additional fundraising, will certainly be needed.

The intent is to provide a framework within which British Friends may commit their support collectively, in such a way that CEEACO can plan ahead and develop an effective and focused single working partnership, rather than dealing with a variety of disparate small-scale contributions.  However we have already heard from Friends as far afield as New Zealand that they may wish to contribute their support as well, so we hope we may make room for all!

CEEACO are also keen to host volunteers with appropriate skills and experience, to support them there in practical ways, so we will also be looking at ways that we can support that.

Martin with the Abeka tree planting teamManchester AM has since nominated Margaret Gregory, Elizabeth Coleman, Chris Green, Jaques Kanda and myself to form a Manchester “Congo Group”.  We will be meeting in June for the first time, to consider how we might best support Manchester Friends in acting on their concern for the Congo – and, in particular, to respond to the invitation from Cambridge Friends to join them in their proposed partnership with CEEACO.

If you are interested in finding out more, or getting involved, please do get in touch with me, or with any of us.  Please also make a regular donation toward Manchester AM’s new Congo fund, by means of the annual schedule, or by contacting the Treasurer. Please also come along to the annual garden party at Sale Local Meeting on Saturday June 21st, where I and others of the new Congo group will be there to bring a Congo theme to the event, and to provide opportunities for Friends to find out more and lend their support!