Facilitators design journeys and provide experiences to people who trust them to guide them from a no-longer-agreeable A to an envisioned B. Sometimes this journey is smooth, and sometimes it’s hindered by opaque resistances and elusive characters.
In which corporate situations have ICW facilitators designed and facilitated?
Enhancing cooperation and communication within and between teams, departments, divisions and locations,
Designing and accompaning transformation processes driving cultural change, entrepreneurship and agility,
Tackling challenges regarding business models, values, experience design and strategy.
The framework in which facilitation takes place can range from: “Just create good energy amongst people with no particular agenda” to “We need you to move us through a precisely structured day while covering a multi-bullet-point agenda and reaching agreement at the end”. These two scenarios and anything in between can be the briefing for facilitation.
Facilitators are allpartial and neutral. They have no stake in the topic and listen to all opinions. This does not mean that every opinion is accepted uncritically. The facilitator is totally obliged to make sure that any opinion put forward is relevant to the discussion, logical and well argued. Only then will time and energy be expended.
Facilitators therefore challenge their customers to do their best thinking and practice. They encourage commitment, active involvement and mutual understanding. They stress communal responsibility for reaching the envisioned goal, and drive for lasting agreements.
Since facilitators are designers, they think and work in a customer-centric fashion. They provide whatever will enable customers to achieve their set objectives. The customer is always the group of people being challenged to move on a topic.
The success of any facilitation exercise always depends on this group of people one works with. What are they able to do? How are they disposed towards the topic? How are they in contact with one another? The head of department might have a wish for the facilitation process, while the people decide whether it will actually happen. Sometimes nothing that has been planned happens, and one might spend the better part of the day discussing the relevance of a certain topic. There the facilitator leaves the topic level and goes to a meta level which becomes another facilitation process in its own right. If this process is constructive and solution-driven – everything is OK.
A facilitator therefore works a lot with uncertainty, ambiguity and complexity. One never really knows what will happen and should be prepared to expect the unexpected. If that unexpected crops up, it’s a good thing to have people in the room, who – no matter which way the content level turns – are willing to work in a positive and constructive manner. Creating such an atmosphere is subsumed within the term “experience design”. Facilitators have the responsibility of designing experiences for their customers in which they can establish contact all around, feel respected and comfortable when voicing their opinions, wishes and concerns, and accept the challenge of working towards finding a solution to the topic at hand. Being well versed in creativity with a treasure chest full of ideas, tools, methods, material and the like is essential in such settings.