Blog FPO
By: Krista Rowe | Sep, 2 2022
Facilitation

How the Questions We Ask Effect Our Work

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When I sat for the assessment of my facilitation portfolio - to become a Certified Technology of Participation (ToP) Facilitator (CTF) - one of my mentors in the work said to me “good facilitation is in the strength of the questions we ask.” I have continued to contemplate this statement for some time and have tried to keep it at the forefront of my mind when designing sessions. I recently came across a quote that has helped me understand this idea in a new way.

“This is the thing with questions: They are never passive recipients or innocent containers for the answers they seek. They are sculptors of possibilities, participants in the mysterious ways the world shapes itself. Let me tell you; there are always other questions.” - Bayo Akomalfe; HELD

In particular, the line that states “they are never passive recipients or innocent containers for the answers they seek” stands out to me. Often as facilitators we create questions to get to a particular outcome. For example, if I want to move a group toward the implementation of their strategic plan, I might ask the question “What is one tangible, realistic, measurable, next step you will take in the next 2-4 weeks to move toward your implementation goals?” This question is intentionally created to solicit a very specific response. To the extent that it guides the conversation in a narrow direction it is not “innocent.” It has an agenda. This isn’t a bad thing, merely something to notice. What if I asked the question “How will we be different as an organization if we accomplish our intended goals?” These are both forward thinking questions about what happens next, but they lead to very different outcomes. Being clear about our own agenda for a question - the ways in which all questions are loaded and are directly connected to our own worldview – is super important. It’s important because it alters the experience participants have of the session and ultimately the outcome of the work. One practice I intend to use going forward is a technique I frequently use with participants: I’m going to spend a couple of minutes making a list of as many questions as I could ask, select the 2-3 that I think best meet the aims of the session, and sit with those because as Akomalfe so eloquently puts it “there are always other questions.” 

In what ways, are questions important in your work? What process do you use to create your questions? Please reply in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you. 

By: Krista Rowe | Sep, 2 2022
Facilitation

How the Questions We Ask Effect Our Work

Often as facilitators we create questions to get to a particular outcome, to the extent that it guides the conversation in a narrow direction. Being clear about our own agenda for a question - the ways in which all questions are loaded and are directly connected to our own worldview – is super important.

Read More >

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During a recent strategic planning session, participants were working in small groups when Aaron overheard a participant make a comment that didn't sit well with their colleague.  Aaron and his co-facilitator brainstormed a course of action and turned to nonviolent communication.  This is how it went.

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Renovating Your Strategic Plan Virtually - Part 1: Understanding the Basics

Most associations view strategic planning as a necessary evil and cringe when the three years are up and it’s time to do another plan. Over time Boards can become jaded and skeptical of the strategic planning process, “We waste time and money on developing a plan and it never goes anywhere”. If this sounds familiar, your association is starting with an ineffective plan and/or flawed process to implement. This 3-part series will help you renovate your strategic plan so volunteers can once again get excited about the process and see actual results.

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Leveraging Technology in Virtual Facilitations

​We have entered a “new normal” where much of our facilitation work is being done in the virtual environment. This leads to new challenges and barriers, but also opportunity. There are a vast number of options of new or under-utilized technologies we can begin to leverage - let’s explore a few of them.

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Listening to Lead

​Most of us are familiar with a traditional leadership model, a bureaucratic one that leads from the top down. Decisions are made from the leaders and passed down the line to be implemented. While this leadership style has its place and purpose, in facilitation work we often challenge people to embrace a different leadership style. One that’s purpose is to seek input from all and decisions owned by the group.

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