What is facilitation?
Facilitation is a form of group or team work in which the facilitator is responsible for designing and running the process, and the participant group contributes the subject matter knowledge, combining it into a larger whole in order to develop a certain result: a decision, a problem solution, a strategy, an action plan, an answer to a question significant to the group.
Facilitation entails guiding and helping rather than advising any ready-made solutions from an expert position. The key is the engagement and mobilisation of the client's own resources. In this way, the participants of the workshop or development process have a strong sense of ownership of the solutions being developed.
With the increasing significance of collective intelligence,collective intelligencefacilitation enables a fuller use of knowledge, energy and creativity hidden in the heads of team members. Facilitation also ensures good communication; during the workshop everyone hears everyone and everyone sees the emerging result.
What is the facilitator's role?
The facilitator is a special role among other organisational support roles, such as coach, trainer, mentor, consultant. It is a process role. The facilitator does not contribute expert knowledge like a consultant or trainer. However, he or she is equipped with knowledge about the group and creative processes. Facilitation assumes that the knowledge needed to, for example, solve an organisational problem, is available in the participating group, and it needs to be illuminated and integrated. If there is a definite lack of some knowledge, then other activities, such as training or expert consulting, are advisable. However, a facilitated workshop is a good way to map the missing knowledge and choose the best ways to obtain it.
The key features of the facilitator are total neutrality towards the subject of the team's work and impartiality towards the participants of the workshop. The facilitator's task is to prepare the workshop in such a way that it is as easy as possible for the participants to achieve the objective of the meeting. This includes the selection of the structure of the meeting (logically and coherently arranged activities), as well as appropriate tools and techniques.
Among the roles mentioned, facilitation is close to team coaching. The goal of the coach, however, is to strengthen the team's potential, while the facilitator's goal is to help the team achieve a specific result.
What are the applications of facilitation?
Facilitation finds many applications, from a single board or team meeting to complex processes of organisational change and development. It also finds its use in project, programme and portfolio management, and can greatly support project planning, risk management and change management. It can be a service provided by the Project Management Office, involving either internal or external facilitators.