Talking to the two of my friends/colleagues last night who do a lot of face to face facilitation.
Rob Nielsen who works for the government and Dr Christine King from the University Of QLD (The best intellect I know on the Darling Downs)
I've been thinking about comparing face to face facilitation to online e-based facilitation-the embodied world and life in cyberspace.
What matters in face to face facilitation?
Rob stressed clear goals and purpose for the meeting being facilitated, allowing everyone to speak, not allowing the extroverts to take up all the talk time, allowing the introverts time to think - before they have to answer, rules and values and norms that allow for respectful solution focused dialogue, keeping the group on task.
Rob's work helps groups make decisions, agree on plans, chart change strategies, overcome blockages. It’s about wise and united action. Rob works with many rural organizations and teams.
Chrissy’s work seems more varied and multicultural as she works in various countries but also a has rural focus.
Talking to Chrissy, we covered how different facilitation tasks can be depending on whether there is a sense united purpose or festering conflicts in a group.
I recalled a working definition I came up with in the mid 1980s-before emails even.
It was different work- the effort to communicate was costly based on printing, photocopiers, the rare computer and the postal service.
"Networks are groups people who communicate and cooperate because they perceive they have a common interest. "
A little digging at a s face to face event could reveal that there was not much united purpose.
In the e-world, people can link up with others of like minds and get underway if they get critical mass quite easily.
There are many millions of blogs out there. Anyone can blog away - but you need networks for it to start to make a difference. It is more than writing well. They don't have to all agree. They don't have to join an organisation anymore. They don't have to resolve conflict with others. They don't have to listen or read other who do not share their ideas and values. They can enjoy their splendid isolation if they choose.
But for a little more effort people can form networks with dissimilar people, and use wiki and web 2.0 collaboration tools to share perspectives, share information, come to agreement, commit their resources and skills and share their networks and credibility and take action together. All this requires dialogue and mutual respect. Without these people will not come to a shared agreement about the shape of the problem and effective strategies that will lead to it's solution. Together such people can become powerful.
What are the key change processes in the above model?
Good facilitation leads to informal learning which leads to improved problem models and a better understanding of resources that could be mobilised as part of the solution.
Good facilitation leads to a sense of ownership because collaborative partners have been listened to and their interests have been respected by others.
The learning excites and motivates people. (People like to commit to activities were they can learn.)
The respectful relationships motive worker engagement.
The quality of plans motivates action and investment in the collaborative strategy. No of is a smart as all of us. Together we can achieve that which is beyond us a individuals.
What I have written reminds me a project I developed in 2009 called NEYONDS.
For a short video pitch about this project to get a social entrepreneurs grant see
Or in 100 words.
NEYONDS-Network for the Early Years on the Downs and Surrounds.
With this project we will establish a sustainable social enterprise. NEYONDS will reinvent the interagency meeting using Web 2.0 media. This project will create a self funding-self governing NGO with a community capacity building mission.
Our project works to reorient service systems towards an early intervention prevention and human development paradigm.
NEYONDS aims to empower the innovators /risk takers in human services/school systems. It will link up innovators whom are concerned about the outcomes that matter for their communities. NEYONDS uses Web 2.0 power shifting technologies to shake up ineffective practices and to break down the silos in human services/education.
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