The words ‘facilitate’, ‘facilitation’ and ‘facilitator’ are in common use in a wide variety of contexts. Unfortunately, there can be some confusion because these words’ meanings seem, at best, fluid and, at worst, malleable.
Facilitation is a basic life skill which is much used in the business world. There, it can be used – profitably – in:
- identifying issues
- resolving issues
- encouraging productive interaction
- developing accurate objectives
- defining the scope of change projects
- strategic planning
- encouraging and empowering contributions within a safe, non-threatening environment
- engaging stakeholders
Facilitation can support organizations as they face difficulties. It can enable people to work in a collaborative and participative way to tackle key issues and also to make fundamental decisions.
Effective facilitation can make the difference between a poor decision and a brilliant one. It can make the difference between a solution that has all kinds of hidden problems and one that is robust and can be made to work.
Obviously, facilitators have a key part to play in all this. They provide a way to deliver answers to complex issues without necessarily being a subject matter expert. They need to use the most appropriate model, tool and/or technique to get the most helpful answer, allowing groups to make decisions and reach a lasting, robust agreement which has commitment and buy-in.
This gives organizations an effective participative change management toolkit. Moreover, they can use facilitation as a core management process and, possibly, as a core role within the organization.
This strategy requires organizations to build a facilitation-friendly culture to discover and then promote best practice internally – and one of the key ways to manage and embrace this change in approach to facilitation is to invest in structured and accredited facilitation.
We will soon be launching a qualification called Facilitation to help managers get the most out of their teams. For further information on Facilitation, visit our website.