The Living Organisation :


“The art of noticing what is going on, and doing something helpful with that awareness.”

Of course there is much more to it than this, for example, contracting for and designing the intervention. (Heron’s guide to facilitation gives the 6 key dimensions as being: Planning, Meaning, Confronting, Feeling, Structuring and Valueing.) But my own very rough definition above does capture what I believe lies at the heart of successful facilitation with teams and groups.

I have facilitated all manner of meetings and gatherings, from Board meetings to large group events. I use many different methodologies, creative approaches, active approaches, dialogical approaches etc and am skilled at blending these to maximise engagement whilst purposefully holding to the task in hand.

Key aspects of the facilitator’s presence when working with groups are:

Ability To Be Present

In order to notice, become aware of and work with whatever is happening in the room (rather than for example, what I expected to happen and planned for) a facilitator needs to be skilled at managing themselves to be present, in the moment, with these people and what is happening right now.

When my mind drifts to remembering to buy broccoli for the evening meal (as it will – somebody in the group just mentioned brocolli!) I need to notice this happening and know how to bring myself back to the present, quickly and effectively.

And in the midst of the action, I need to be able to notice what is happening for individuals, for the group as a whole and for myself, reference my own expertise and make a decision re what to do next. There is a lot going on!

Communication of Expertise

I need to have a body of expertise to offer; My knowledge, skills, experience and training in facilitation.

I also need to be a skilled communicator such that my offer of expertise “lands,” with confidence rather than anxiety, granduosity etc.

Sense of Self-Worth

What will I do when I don’t know what to do?

The role of facilitator can be intensely challenging and lonely. In taking on the job of temporarily leading the team or group, I inevitably end up on the receiving end of people’s projections. I need to be able to manage myself in this. For example, if the group demands (implicitly) that I keep them safe by making all their decisions for them, do I find myself going with this, or am I able to challenge, uncomfortable though this may be.

An underlying strong sense of self-worth, supports the facilitator in such situations where technical expertise in and of itself, is not enough.