Team facilitation in an unfolding group process

Dear all, 

Do you remember a situation when the group is going in another direction than what you and your colleague - facilitator anticipated? We can make an outline for the meeting, but the group might need to expand upon a certain issue, or suddenly a new topic comes up that seems very important. 

There is always one of the facilitators who is ready to 'go with the flow' of the group, which is nice, but can also create discussion afterwards about the choice that was made without clear mutual consent.  

When I attended the Worldwork 2017 seminar in Greece in April, I learned a lot about team facilitation. In this seminar there were unstructured group processes with surprising twists and turns, like a wild river. This is what I saw the facilitators do, and I noticed how helpful it was.

When the topic would go in another direction, they would first let it go for a couple of minutes, and then one of the facilitators would name to ALL present in the room what is going on. In other words (s)he would 'frame'  the change of direction the discussion took. This framing was done in a very clear, concise way, and in such a way that it created a moment of rest and clarity in the room, like resting on a new 'platform'.

Next, the facilitators would check in with each other and subsequently with the group to propose a course of action: either go back to the initial topic, or leave the initial topic, or even negotiate time to spend on the new topic. 

I really like this approach of 'framing' as it made it possible to include in the decision making process not only your colleague but also the whole group in a transparent way. Often it can be done quickly, without being hastily. 

To you all, enjoy 'the river' of unfolding processes at work and in your lives :-)

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Comment by Birgitta Schomaker on June 11, 2017 at 12:59am

Hi Rituu,

Yes, the facilitator is for the group. Sometimes we need to let go of our plan, and listen carefully to where the group is, and what is the next step for the group. 

So yes, make the group aware of the other direction that the conversation is going. Also as a way to check in with your co-facilitator. Be transparent to the group that you and your co-facilitator need a moment to tune in with each other. This shows the group your inclusive approach, being a rolemodel in showing how to include everyone in making a decision. 

Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on June 8, 2017 at 9:44pm

Birgitta, I find your experience useful because I at times find it difficult to handle a situation where the conversations takes another direction. What my takeaway is that make the group aware of it but leave it to the group on what they want. Facilitator is for the group and not the other way around. Did I get it right?

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