Starting from the bottom up: facilitation’s foundational values
This guest blog post is by Lindsay Gross, director of facilitation services for Event Garde.
As we enter into a new year we often launch into new ventures, resolutions and goals. Sometimes we don’t give much thought to what is required to make these ventures successful. We leap blindly forward and hope for the best. Other times we carefully prepare, and think through what foundation is required before taking that leap. We start from the bottom up, ensuring that we have strong footing before taking the next step towards progress. This foundation can be vital to our success.
Facilitation work, like anything else, also requires a strong foundation to work from. This base is vital to having meaningful participation and results. The Technology of ParticipationÒspecifically talks about two values that create this strong foundation: inclusive participation and profound respect.
Often, participation can be seen as a “nice bonus” or something that just happens magically when the right mix of people enter a room. But we actually need to challenge our thinking on thisas companies, associations and organizations. Participation is actually required to see the full perspective and understand all aspects of a particular issue. Participation is also not just about the type of person in the room. It’s really about creating the space in which everyone has the opportunity to share – introverts, extroverts, leaders and employees at all levels.
Every individual has a unique perspective, a piece of the puzzle that is required in order to see the 360-degree view. When organizations are struggling to solve a particular problem, find innovative or creative solutions or think outside the box, inclusive participation from its employees and stakeholders is often the best response.
As facilitators we aim for 100 percent participation at each meeting, which is a lofty goal. It’s one that requires skill and thoughtful preparation to ensure spaces and opportunities for all to participate in the ways they feel most comfortable. Yet, despite it being challenging, the value of inclusive participation remains paramount. Inclusive participation means every voice is heard, every insight is given consideration and no voices are allowed to dominate. For inclusive participation to be possible, effective facilitation skills and methods are needed.
Profound respect is the second, equally important part of a strong facilitation foundation. When participants engage with each other in a respectful manner, open and honest dialogue is possible. It is the responsibility of the facilitator to create a respectful space for exchange between one another. Additionally, when facilitators have profound respect for their participants, success is possible.
As a facilitator, I trust the group has the answers. The wisdom and expertise lie with them. I have deep and profound respect for their ability to work together and create meaningful action. I know how to help groups arrive at answers through facilitation methods and tools, but ultimately the answer lies amongst the group. Creating a space in which respect and a courteous exchange are ensured is not always a guarantee in our increasingly challenging work environments these days. However, as a facilitator, it is always at the forefront of the work I do with groups.
Only with these two values as the foundation for each facilitated experience can meaningful change occur – change that results in group-owned and operated-action and results. I challenge you today to think about whether these foundational values exist in your work and within your organization.
If, not, what steps can you take to move closer to achieving this? What help do you or your organization need? What additional footing is required and who can help you get there?
Let’s start from the bottom up together, ensuring a strong foundation exists and leap into 2019 ready to achieve all our goals.