I am excited to be offering two sessions at the IAF Facilitation Summit next month, one with Adam Kahane of Reos Partners and one with Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg – to join us, register now! #FacilitationSummit
How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together, 7-8pm UK time
Adam Kahane has facilitated in more than fifty countries and in every part of the world, with executives, politicians, generals, guerrillas, civil servants, trade unionists, community activists, United Nations officials, clergy, and artists. His work with diverse teams of stakeholders trying to make progress on their most vital challenges has been praised by Nobel laureates Nelson Mandela and Juan Manuel Santos.
Kahane has just published a new book (his fifth) entitled ‘Facilitating Breakthrough: How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together’, which offers a new theory and practice of facilitation. He argues that it is becoming harder for people to move forward together, and that although facilitation is supposed to help, the two most common methodologies – subordinating everyone’s interests to the good of the whole, or enabling everyone to do their own thing – both block progress.
His book describes a new approach, transformative facilitation, which cycles back and forth between these two approaches, removing the obstacles that stand in the way of everyone contributing and connecting equitably.
“Facilitating Breakthrough is thoughtful, reflective, and inspiring. To achieve breakthrough results on high-stakes challenges, facilitators need to raise their game. This book explains how.” – see publications.
Join us for this 60-minute conversation to engage with Adam and each other on some of the ideas raised in the book, and how they relate to our own experience.
Scaling Up Engagement & Dialogue
Exploring the ladder of engagement, and how we can climb it with those that we work with, 11-12.30pm UK time
Join us in exploring the ladder of engagement, and how we can climb it with those that we work with. Share your experience in changing the conversation, at scale, so we can all become better at it.
In this 90-minute workshop we’ll explore 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’ll draw on some insights of previous work on the power of partnership between facilitation and communication, and we’ll apply some of the tools of the two professions to generate new insights together.
Michael and I are contributors to The Power of Facilitation, a collaborative book project by a team of facilitators and visual practitioners to showcase the power of facilitation.
“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” – see publications.
Hosting the 2020 online Annual Meeting of IAF England & Wales last month was one of my last acts as chapter Chair before completing my 2 year term at the end of December. I am sharing here the zoom recording of the meeting, and also the 2020 Board report (pdf) that we presented as a Board and Leadership Team.
It is also now just over 5 years since I took over as organiser of the IAF London meetup group, and it will very soon be time this month for the new England & Wales Board (and separately also this month the IAF global Board) to meet again to make plans for the year ahead.
So I thought I would share a little of the story of these 5 years, and a few reflections from my own experience of what I think has worked for us.
In a small way I had supported Julia Goga-Cooke and Martin Farrell in their hosting of the first meetups of IAF England & Wales, in London from November 2013. We met monthly on Thursday evenings in a meeting room near Charing Cross for 2 hours of informal networking and learning exchange. We had groups of up to around 8 or 10, sometimes only one or two (even none!). Nevertheless we attracted a small but loyal band of regular attenders, who came to appreciate our little community greatly.
When I took over as host in November 2015, I sought to grow the community at first by diversifying the meetups. I continued the London networking and learning meetups in a meeting room every other month, as afternoon sessions of 3-4 hours to encourage and enable people to travel further to attend. I alternated those with bi-monthly evening social meetups in a pub, and added monthly morning networking meetups in a coffee shop.
I found that my meetup.com organiser fee entitled me to 3 meetup groups for the price of one. So I launched new regional groups for the North of England and South West, and invited others to host monthly local coffee meetups near them and to share in hosting of regional networking & learning meetups on a quarterly basis.
We asked some of our regulars what they have appreciated most about IAF E&W Meetups and why should others be interested, and listed some of their replies on our web page.
#IAFMeetups offer a wonderful opportunity to learn from each other, to share experiences and to practice new ways of facilitation in a friendly and fun environment. I look forward to each meet up and enjoy being with fellow facilitators from different nationalities ❤️
Setting out as a facilitator on my own was a scary decision but I have met so many great people through the @IAFEnglandWales meet ups, wheather thats someone to run an idea past or even to try out something new with. Its a really wonderful community to be a part of!
In 2019 we invited all of our growing community of meetup hosts around the country to form an expanded Leadership Team of around 30, with an online home in Basecamp. In that year’s election we expanded the Board from six to nine. We also launched the Wales meetup group, supported sister groups to launch in Scotland and Ireland, and launched the monthly UK & Ireland online coffee meetup.
For International Facilitation Week in 2019 our national event in Birmingham became a two-day Annual Conference, attended by around 100. We also launched the #IAFpodcast Facilitation Stories that week – an initiative sparked by a conversation at a London meetup earlier that year.
Early 2020 saw a dozen or so attend our first overnight Leadership Team meeting in Birmingham in January, and the launch of IAF England & Wales Hubs to support IAF facilitators and friends to pursue a shared interest together – the first being the Climate Hub. Then of course we took all of our meetups online, and then our October 2020 Annual Conference as well…
The 2020 Board report shared here illustrates something of the experience and outcomes of IAF England & Wales this past year in text and images, and the Annual Meeting recording illustrates the experience and outcomes of many of those involved in their own stories and from their perspectives.
I am enormously proud of what we have become as a community – and not least how that community has innovated and transformed itself, and enabled those involved to innovate and transform their own facilitation practice and businesses, this past year.
I am enormously gratified, also, to be able to step down from my own leadership role with great confidence in the strong, distributed and very facilitative leadership that remains in place. I mean my successor as Chair Helene Jewell, and the newly (re-)elected chapter Board of nine and wider Leadership Team, and also the IAF England & Wales community as a whole as well.
Our IAF England & Wales 2020 plan, like those of previous years, includes a few simple principles that we have developed over the years to capture how we have sought to work together as chapter. For me these reflect much of what has worked for us in terms of chapter leadership over the past 5 years.
IAF England & Wales is a not-for-profit unincorporated association, constituted as a Chapter of IAF according to Chapter Bylaws approved by the IAF Board in 2011 and governed by an elected Board of local IAF members
As a chapter of IAF we are guided by the Vision, Mission and Values of IAF and we engage actively with other chapters, and with the Association as a whole, both to learn and to contribute. Our Bylaws are adapted from those of IAF as a whole and our Board structure and roles are adapted from those of the global IAF Board. This has helped us to build alignment.
IAF facilitators & friends, our wider network, welcomes everyone with an interest in facilitation in E&W, IAF members and non-members alike. Non-IAF members from among the wider network may be appointed by the E&W Board to the wider IAF E&W Leadership Team.
The greatest value that an Association like IAF can offer its members, in my experience, is the opportunity to exercise leadership in service to others and to the world at large. Thus we have not sought to provide a service to members so much as to build an open community to support members and others to serve each other and the wider world. We have used social media and online platforms as well as face-to-face and virtual meetups to broaden and deepen our connections. This has enabled us to build engagement.
We are a community of facilitators, after all, with a mission to promote and advance the highest professional standards among all those with an interest in facilitation. This has helped us to build credibility.
We seek to reflect and also broaden the diversity of the facilitation community
This is perhaps the principle that we have had least success in living up to, as yet, and so perhaps it is the one that is most deserving of greater attention. I believe that such attention is demanded by our Values and Ethics as facilitators and by our Values as an Association, so I am encouraged by the Board’s ongoing committed to this. This will increasingly help us to build our impact.
We follow our passion & energy, and those of our community. We lead to inspire more leadership, rather than to gain followers – so we encourage, challenge & support others to lead sessions, to host meetups and to lead in other ways
As facilitators we make it easy for groups to achieve amazing results, so in other leadership roles we make it easy for ourselves and each other to do so as well. Perhaps my greatest source of pride in my leadership of IAF England & Wales is to have had my name taken as short-hand for the experience of finding oneself to have volunteered for a leadership role – in other words, to have been ‘Gilbraithed’! I am prouder still to hear talk among my fellow chapter leaders of doing the same to each other and to others in future, taking their own and each others’ names as short-hand. This has helped us to build our leadership.
We manage our finances on a low-cost, low-risk, break-even basis.
In order to make it easy on ourselves and each other as leaders, and to make our community as widely accessible as possible. This has helped us to build our resilience.
This story of IAF England & Wales is a story of IAF as a whole as much as it is a story of the chapter. I believe that the chapter has had some influence on the story of IAF as a whole over these 5 years, but I am quite certain that the reverse is true.
I am proud and gratified also that IAF and its global and regional leadership has provided such an enabling and empowering environment for such a story to unfold in England & Wales, and in a rapidly growing number of other IAF chapters and groups around the world. I think it was well deserved that IAF won the AAE Award for Best Membership Engagement in 2019.
I am excited that the IAF global Board this month will be reviewing a new ‘IAF Scale of Participation’, developed by Marketing Director Jeffer London with inspiration from New Power. This could help to build a global journey of leadership development, in conjunction with the IAF Professional Development Pathway.