Why become a facilitator?
This is a question that I have considered in depth. It even led to me giving this brief talk at “La Fabrique du Changement” in Nantes in May 2019, where I gave an outline of a facilitator’s various levels of intervention. A brief summary is given below:
Level 1: Spirit of facilitation
The desire to facilitate someone else’s task out of a sense of empathy, consideration and selflessness – the ultimate act of facilitation, carried out several times a day and accessible to everyone, making each and every one of us facilitators without us even knowing it. In a working world where everything is recorded, audited, industrialised, standardised, these voluntary gestures remind us how it’s the act of helping each other out that makes us human.
Level 2: Facilitating collective interactions
Meetings and workshops are all well and good, but only if they produce useful outcomes! How many group meetings turn out to be completely ineffective? Too many, far too many! And that’s where the role of the facilitator comes in. A bit of empathy won’t be enough to get 10 or 20 people to reach an agreement; you need methodology, tools and to be aware of the effect your attitude has when faced with a group. Immediate impact: productive group sessions.
Level 3: Facilitating engagement within change processes
Once an important decision has been made, all that’s left to do is implement it. Not a problem, if everything is up to the team that was involved in the decision earlier on – which isn’t all that common. It’s far more complicated, especially when you have to bring several teams on board who haven’t been consulted or informed beforehand. It’s up to the facilitator to create the conditions needed for the teams to adopt change. We take part in large group sessions, where facilitators no longer act alone, but as part of a team and across several stages. Preparation is vital.
Level 4: Facilitating cultural transformation
When mutual assistance is recognised and encouraged, when productive group sessions and change are carefully facilitated, bit by bit, that’s when an organisation’s entire culture becomes more collaborative, more agile, and moves towards the values it embodies. This is even more obvious when organisations internalise facilitation skills and create an internal community of facilitators to test out approaches and share best practices for high-impact group sessions.
Level 5: Facilitating the great transition of ecosystems
This is the final level of intervention: facilitating the transition of an organisation and its ecosystem towards a way of working that is more sustainable for all stakeholders, the environment and biodiversity. This is a monumental task, since it simultaneously has environmental, economic, social and political effects. This is an important challenge, arguably among the most important and pressing for decades to come, given the alarming global context (biodiversity collapse, global warming, environmental havoc, social inequality). This will require an army of facilitators! Are you ready to join up? The planet needs you!