In August 2014 I had the privilege of co-facilitating a concurrent workshop at the 17th IAF Asia Conference Singapore, http://iafasiaconference.iaf.sg, in collaboration with Belinda Lowing from Effective Conversations.
Our topic: Facilitating self while facilitating change – the challenges of applying process facilitation in an organisational learning & development context, http://iafasiaconference.iaf.sg/facilitating-self-while-facilitating-change-the-challenges-of-applying-process-facilitation-in-an-organisational-learning-and-development-context/
We saw this as a great opportunity to share and explore two key issues we’ve been grappling with as process and learning facilitators:
So what is facilitation?
Facilitation is any activity that makes tasks for others easy, that helps people do their best thinking and their best work.
'A facilitator is someone who uses knowledge of group processes to formulate and deliver the needed structure for meeting interactions to be effective. The facilitator focuses on effective processes (meeting dynamics) allowing the participants to focus on the content or the substance of their work together'. http://www.iaf-world.org/Libraries/Facilitation_Articles/ASQ-IAF_Facilitation_Primer.sflb.ashx
Facilitation and learning
Each time we facilitate an experience we are also facilitating learning, whether learning is the primary purpose or not.
Transformative Learning Theory
First expressed by Jack Mezirow from Columbia University, transformative learning theory explains learning as ‘making sense of our experiences’.
Transformative Learning offers the opportunity for deep learning – looking at what it takes to move from knowing what you know without question, to moving to looking at the assumptions about what you know
Transformation is about coming out different to when you went in.
Transformative learning is focussed on the kind of learning where you change your view of the world, where you end up seeing things differently. And by changing your worldview you’ve changed how you make sense of your experiences, how you make meaning about the world you inhabit. This can happen as the result of a life-changing event, a disorienting dilemma. It can also happen as the result of a series of smaller transformations over time leading to be major shift in thinking. Transformative learning can be as a result of the work that facilitators do helping groups to do their best thinking and work.
Managing self while managing change
The role of the facilitator can be a dedicated one as described earlier. However often times in organisations people take on a facilitative role as needed e.g. run a meeting, do business planning, collaborate on a strategic approach, have 1:1 meetings with staff or work with a team to solve a problem. This means that managers, team leaders, staff, colleagues are, at times, stepping into the role of a facilitator.
Facilitators can wear many hats:
"The intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one's attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness_(psychology)
Facilitators must be ever mindful of the responsibility and power that comes with their role and the impact of themselves on the work that the group is doing.
Here is the SlideShow we prepared for the conference:
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