Celebrate International Facilitation Week 2014 by joining #FacWeekchat on twitter!

International Facilitation Week 2013As part of International Facilitation Week 2014, I will be hosting Twitter chats with IAF colleague Ben Ziegler, as we did last year.  This year’s chats will be on October 22 and October 23.  Please join us!

Just like last year, each chat will run from 12-1pm New York / 5-6pm London time – follow these links to see world times for Oct 22 & Oct 23.   Each chat will include 6-8 questions, spaced out throughout the hour, for you to answer, comment on, comment on other people’s answers, ask questions, etc.

A twitter chat is basically a dialogue, a conversation between people on twitter with a shared interest, discussing the topic at hand. Twitter chats are a great way to connect, share, learn, and have fun, with a community of practice; ie: facilitators!  The many tweets of a twitter chat are followed by using a common hashtag. For our chats we will use the same hashtag as last year, #FacWeekChat.

IAF 20 year celebrationThe topic for the two chats this year will be facilitation history, concluding a six-month collaborative process undertaken to celebrate the 20th anniversary this year of the International Association of Facilitators – see How has facilitation developed over time, and where might it be heading?  On October 22 we will reflect on the history of facilitation to date, and October 23 we will look ahead at what the future may hold.

Before the chat, please take a look if you can at some of the events and resources that have been shared since April with the #FacHistory hashtag – you can find edited highlights compiled  on Storify.  Please also add more of your own!  Simply tweet using the hashtag #FacHistory, or share and discuss on Facebook or LinkedIn.

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A bit about Twitter chats.

New to Twitter, and/or Twitter (aka Tweet) chats?  This article, How to Participate in a Tweet Chat, by Janet Fouts (@jfouts), helps explain things.

We hope to have you join us on Wedensday October 22 and Thursday October 23! 

Please tweet to invite all your twitter friends. Got questions that can’t wait? Contact either of us via Twitter – @benziegler or @martingilbraith

What else will you be doing to celebrate? Please let us know (tweet #FacWeek or @FacWeek), and so connect and join with facilitators worldwide in promoting the power of facilitation!

My facilitation stories, tips and advice on Meeting Tips Radio

Meeting Tips RadioMeeting Tips Radio is an online podcast that pledges “to share stories, tips and advice from the best meeting facilitators in the world, so you can improve your meetings, improve your career, and improve your life“.

The site is published by Meeting Tips Radio host and interviewer Reine Kassulker, based in Minneapolis USA. Many of the world-class facilitators he has interviewed before me are among those who developed ICA’s Technology of Participation facilitation methodology in the 1970-80s, and who founded the International Association of Facilitators in the early 1990s. So I feel honoured indeed to be included now in this distinguished company, and to be the first guest interviewed outside of North America as well.

To hear my own stories, tips and advice, click on the image above and then click play – or download to listen later. In the 43 minute interview, I share something of my experience of the recent ICA Ukraine PEACE Summit in Kiev, some of the challenges I have experienced in virtual facilitation, my own ‘universal principle facilitation‘ ORID, my approach to meeting preparation, and how I use social media in my facilitation and in my facilitation business. I also share some tips and advice for fellow facilitators just starting out in social media, and for people just starting out as faciliators. Also, not least, I share how to get in touch if you are ready to offer me a six-figure facilitation contract…

Do also check out the archive of fascinating previous interviews at Meeting Tips Radio – listen to Marilyn Oyler on the invention of the sticky wall, Sunny Walker on virtual facilitation, Catherine Tornbom on conflict resolution, Mirja Hanson on lessons from her book Clues to Achieving Consensus, Nathaniel Cadwell on Agile meetings and innovation games, Rebecca Gilgen on ‘stealth facilitation’, Deb Burnight on strategic planning, Irina Fursman on her work in Ukraine, Linda Alton on the origins of ORID and the ToP Focused Conversation method – and much more!

And on that six-figure contract… just contact me!

How has facilitation developed over time, and where might it be heading?

IAF 20 year logo 500facweek logoWhat are some key events in the history of facilitation – past, present and future? What online resources are available on the development of facilitation over time?

Join facilitators worldwide in a six-month collaborative process to develop our collective story of facilitation, as the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. For more details of the background and process, see my earlier post Celebrating the development of facilitation – world-wide and history long.

Many events and resources have already been shared since the process was launched, including at the IAF North America conference April 9-12 in Orlando – you can view those below, and on Storify (or download a pdf as of 2 October).

Join us by contributing events and resources of your own – simply add a comment below this post, tweet using the #FacHistory hashtag, or share and discuss on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Follow as well for facilitated workshop sessions and other opportunities to share and reflect together at upcoming IAF conferences, 14-16 August in Singapore and 3-5 October in Copenhagen, and at local IAF chapter events such as the monthly IAF London Meetup.

Thank you for participating!

Facilitation case study: Celebrating 20 years with the European Training Foundation in Turin – #ETF20

“How might you creatively engage a diverse, international group of around 120, both face-to-face and online, to reflect, learn and bond together in celebrating 20 years of collective achievement?”

This was the question facing Michael Ambjorn and I as we prepared to work with the European Training Foundation (ETF) in Turin earlier this month. Part of the answer lay in the ‘Wall of Wonder’ method of ICA’s Technology of Participation, captured by Michael in a timelapse (below – the #FacHistory hashtag at the end refers to another 20-year anniversary project currently underway and using the method, Celebrating the development of facilitation – world-wide and history long.)

ETF is a decentralised agency of the European Union that supports transitional and developing countries “to harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training and labour market systems”, within the context of the EU’s external relations policy.  Michael and I were engaged on behalf of AlignYourOrg to design and facilitate a one day celebration and team-building event for current and former staff, with an element of online digital engagement as well. We had some fun with that, as you can see here!

The ETF team had arranged for professors and students of Turin’s Albertina Academy of Fine Arts to lead creative arts workshops on the day, so we were to integrate that into the programme. A launch event in early April enabled us and the artists to meet many of the staff, and to begin to prepare together for the main event. Art teams were formed and team badges distributed, team ‘historians’ and ‘archaelogists’ were appointed to unearth and collect artefacts and mementoes to share, and the all-important #ETF20 hashtag was announced to curate online contributions.

The day itself was held at a fabulous venue, the former munitions factory Arsenale of Peace, which allowed us the use of multiple large indoor spaces and a beautiful sunny courtyard as well. In our opening session in the theatre space we presented the aims and agenda of the day, below (click the image to enlarge).

#ETF20 aims & agenda

We then moved to the courtyard for a ‘constellations’ energiser, captured by Michael in another timelapse. First participants formed ‘human’ maps’ depicting where they were born, and then the location of a memorable event with ETF. Then they lined up in order of day & month of birth, and then in order of their first involvement with ETF. This warmed people up literally, as well as in terms of sharing something of themselves and their stories of involvement with ETF. We then distributed playing cards in order of participants’ first involvement, to assign them to 12 groups of 10 (by card number, excluding aces) such that each group had an equal mix of ‘old-timers’ and ‘new comers’.

The ToP Wall of Wonder (or Historical Scan) method is a powerful tool to enable a group to share and learn from their varied perspectives of a journey through history, to review the past in order to prepare for the future. In the first stage of this Wall of Wonder session, the 12 groups were invited to brainstorm and share memorable events and milestones in the 20 years history of ETF from 1994 to 2014, and anticipate future events to 2020 and beyond as well. Events were brainstormed and stories were shared at the personal and world level, as well as at the level of ETF itself, and written on cards and plotted on a timeline on the ‘sticky wall‘ at the front of the room. Participants drew on their collected artefacts and mementoes for inspiration, and plotted photographs alongside their cards – including polaroids of each of them, taken by Michael on the day, and plotted to indicate their date of first involvement with ETF.  You can see all their movement in the timelapse above, as the timeline takes shape as the front of the room.

For the second stage of the session, we introduced an element of the World Cafe conversation method by inviting participants to move tables to form 12 new groups – this time according to the suit of the playing card they had each been given (3 groups for each of the four suits). In these new groups they shared some of the stories they had told and heard, and some more, and began to discern impacts between world, ETF and personal levels, and trends over time. After each stage of the session the 12 tables shared stories and insights with each other in plenary, culminating in suggestions for what name to give to their shared journey of 20+ years.

Below are just a few of the day’s tweets, to indicate how it was received, and a handsome recommendation received from Bent Sorensen, ETF Director of Communications, on LinkedIn. For more on the day as a whole (in tweets, images and more timelapses!) click on the final image below for #ETF20 on storify, and see the beautiful ETF video of the day.

If you find yourself struggling with a similar question, or if you could use any help with engaging and aligning your stakeholders, please contact me or Michael. Otherwise do anyway join us on twitter! @martingilbraith @michaelambjorn

Bent Sorensen ETF recommendation

#ETF20 storify

On the Road

This article was first written for and published in the IAF Europe MENA newsletter, May 2014.

Moscow facilitators planning ‘What can we do over the next 3 years to promote a culture of participation in our organisations?’Moscow facilitators learned the ToP Participatory Strategic Planning process last month by planning ‘What can we do over the next 3 years to promote a culture of participation in our organisations?’

When Julia Goga-Cooke invited me to contribute to this new ‘On The Road’ section of the newsletter, I think she may have known what sort of month I have been having. As well as visiting some interesting places, I have been able to meet and work with some wonderful IAF colleagues.

I began writing this from Marrakech, where I was facilitating last week for the first Arab Regional Forum on Youth Volunteering. This was convened by UN Volunteers, and brought together over 100 stakeholders from across the region and beyond to share, learn and plan together. On exchanging business cards with one delegate from Jordan, he told me that he had just emailed with IAF about joining or setting up a local chapter. So I was happy to share what I knew about the IAF membership in the region, and IAF’s chapter approach, and to learn from his experience of facilitation and facilitators in Jordan.

Prior to this I was in Turin with IAF member Michael Ambjorn of AlignYourOrg , in preparation for facilitating an event there together this week with the 120 staff of the European Training Foundation to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year. It was in designing this event, including a ToP ‘Wall of Wonder’ historical scanning process, that I had the idea for the rather more elaborate process to contribute to IAF’s 20th anniversary year celebration that became ‘Celebrating the development of facilitation – world-wide and history long’. This was launched in April, online and at the IAF North America conference in Orlando. Please do join in, online and at future conferences and chapter events between now and International Facilitation Week in October.

Prior to that, I was in Moscow at the start of April for the 5th annual Moscow Facilitators’ conference. It was great to be back, having attended for my first time last year and contributing a keynote and pre-conference ToP Group Facilitation Methods training. This year I presented a case study of the ToP Participatory Strategic Planning process with an international humanitarian agency in Geneva, ‘Transformational Strategy: from trepidation to ‘unlocked’’, and post-conference ToP Participatory Strategic Planning training (see photo above). The 100 or so participants came from the regions of Russia and Ukraine and Finland as well as from Moscow and the UK.

I have been privileged these last few weeks as well to serve as a mentor to one of ICA Ukraine’s ToP facilitation trainers, and to learn something of how she and ICA are working to network diverse actors in Ukraine and to re-envisage and rebuild their country’s future together. It was a privilege also (and fun!) to help to network ICA Ukraine’s facilitators with Russian facilitators attending the Moscow Facilitators conference by exchanging real-time Facebook updates between my post-conference ToP strategic planning course in Moscow and Natasha’s simultaneous ToP strategic planning course in Lviv.

It is a great disappointment to me to learn that this year’s IAF Europe MENA conference Facilitation Reloaded will no longer be held in Moscow, although recent events have made it increasingly self-evident that it would not be able to go ahead as planned. It seems to me that there is a need, now more than ever, for facilitation to grow and make a valuable impact in the region. I am delighted to know that the conference will be relocated rather than cancelled, and that the Moscow team will remain involved, and I shall be delighted for the opportunity to visit Copenhagen instead in October. I hope to see you there, and I hope that colleagues from Russia and Ukraine will be able to attend.

In the midst of all this I was also able to squeeze in a day of facilitation training with ICA:UK, for an international firm of sustainability consultants in London – happily, and rather appropriately, I was able to travel to that on foot!

Celebrating the development of facilitation – world-wide and history long

IAF 20 year logo 500facweek logoAs the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, join us in celebrating the power of facilitation by exploring, sharing and reflecting together on its history worldwide – past, present and future. 

We are inviting facilitators everywhere – and everyone with an interest in facilitation, professional and otherwise – to join together in a six-month collaborative process to develop our collective story of facilitation, culminating during International Facilitation Week 20-26 October 2014.  Our aim is to strike a balance between honouring the past, celebrating the present, and envisioning the future – and to learn and have some fun together in the process!

We invite you to share key events & milestones in the history of facilitation, from your perspective and in your experience, and links and resources on how facilitation has developed and where it might be heading – share and discuss online at Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (hashtag #FacHistory), and participate face-to-face as well!  Facilitated workshop sessions and other opportunities to share and reflect together will be held at each of IAF’s global conferences this year (April 9-12 in Orlando, 14-16 August in Singapore and 3-5 October in Moscow), and we encourage IAF chapters and other local groups to hold their own events as well – in the run up to International Facilitation Week and/or during the week itself.  Follow @FacWeek and #FacHistory on twitter for the latest.

The six-month process will be modelled on the Technology of Participation (ToP) Historical Scan method (or ‘Wall of Wonder) – a powerful tool to enable a group to share and learn from their varied perspectives of a journey through history, to review the past in order to prepare for the future.  We will build on ideas shared during such a session at the 2007 IAF Europe conference in Edinburgh “Reviewing the past to prepare for the future: demonstrating the ToP Historical Scan method to discern a shared image of the past & future journey of the facilitation profession”, and a subsequent article Reflections on the history of professional process facilitation by Richard Chapman published by IAF Europe & AMED in 2011 – and of course the history of IAF.

Questions we might use to reflect and learn together on the story emerging from the shared events, milestones, links and resources could include:

* Which are/were most exciting or encouraging for you (and which less so)?
* Which are/were most influential for you, in your experience or from your perspective? How?
* Which indicate the power of faciliation to impact positively – on people, on communities, on organisations, on societies?
* What trends can you discern over time, or across geography?
* Where can you discern turning points, as between chapters in history?
* How would you name the chapters? How would you name the history as a whole?

During International Facilitation Week itself, as well as any other local or online events, there will be a couple of #FacWeekChat twitter chats to reflect together on what has been shared and a the results will be published all together online as a storify.

Please join us now by following and sharing your events & milestones, and links & resources, at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter (hashtag #FacHistory)!

Celebrate International Facilitation Week with ‘#FacWeek Daily’

International Facilitation Week 2013International Facilitation Week is with us at last – 21-27 October 2013 will see a worldwide celebration of the power of facilitation.

Andi Roberts CPF has written a great introduction to twitter for facilitators “FAQ: Twitter for facilitators“. If that isn’t yet enough to encourage you to take the plunge and become a tweeter yourself, you can now keep abreast of at least some of what you are missing by subscribing to ‘#FacWeek Daily‘ by email, for a daily bulletin of twitter links & updates during International Facilitation Week itself. For the rest of the year the online paper will convert to a weekly edition.

All contributions to ‘#FacWeek Daily‘ are welcome – for those using twitter, simply tweet your content to @FacWeek or use the #FacWeek hashtag.

Join us in celebrating the power of facilitation worldwide!

#FacWeek daily