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Facilitation And Project Management – A Combination Worth Exploring


This article was written by Tony Mann, Director at Resources Strategic Change.

I don’t know why (and you’ll have to forgive me) – when I was thinking about the up and coming Master Class that John Gordon and I are doing at this year’s UK APMG Showcase – the song from The Sound of Music came into my mind:

So, a needle pulling thread (a needle pulling thread);
La, a note to follow So (a note to follow So);
Ti, a drink with jam and bread (a drink with jam and bread);
A drink with jam and bread (a drink with jam and bread);
Jam and bread (with jam and bread)
Tea with jam and bread (tea with jam and bread);
Tea with jam and bread
Jam and bread, jam and bread;
Tea with jam, jam and bread
Jam and bread, tea with jam, jam and bread.

I think the reason was because of the relationship between each of the pairs (jam and bread, La and So). Taking ‘jam and bread’ first. They are a natural pair – it could be butter and bread – however, jam is much more exciting and enjoyable.

So it is with projects and facilitation. Both go together, both work together, both are more enjoyable together. If you add facilitation to a project then the combination makes for much more successful outcomes.

Facilitation provides the ‘jam’ – it makes things work, helps build collaboration, eases difficult decisions, supports creative thinking, adds rigor to the planning task.

As we intend to illustrate in our Masterclass session, projects are all the better for the use of facilitation.

The other thing that comes out of the song is: ‘La a note to follow So’. Facilitation follows the project task. It never precedes it. The relationship is symbiotic: for every task that the project manager has to tackle the facilitator can design a process to make it happen.

‘A needle pulling thread’ – if the facilitator is to help achieve an outcome then they will use a range of models, tools and techniques and organize people in the (workshop) group in different formats to manage the task.

The facilitation in its way ‘pulls’ the task together and helps deliver outputs.

It’s hard to describe ‘facilitation’ without a ‘task’. In the project life cycle there are many occasions when the project team needs to get together and make a decision, correct a problem, find a solution, draw stakeholders together, overcome resistance, find common ground – the list is endless. Facilitation provides the mechanism to tackle all of these tasks and in a way that is helpful, supportive and outcomes driven.

If you come to the Master Class: “How do you ensure you get an outcome?” John Gordon and I will explore a number of project life cycle tasks and show the accompanying process to deliver results. – just like jam and bread!

To attend this Masterclass, please register for the UK APMG Showcase – London 3rd  July


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