If you have ever been responsible for ensuring that a group achieves an outcome – a decision, a goal, a plan, or resolution of an issue or conflict – then chances are you have already encountered the facilitative role.
In essence, the facilitator is the keeper of the process – designing and leading a coherent approach to ensure that the group discusses issues thoroughly and reaches decisions that are supported and understood by all group members.
The key characteristic distinguishing facilitation from other types of leadership is that the outcomes -specific decisions and action plans – are NEVER predetermined in a facilitative setting. Rather, the group uses the process and activities provided by the facilitator to unlock expertise, ensure thorough discussion, stay focused, and reach decisions that, ideally, are better than those any individual could have come up with alone.
The goal of facilitation is ALWAYS a synergistic outcome.
The use of facilitation has increased as more and more people discover that putting a group of people together and telling them they’re responsible for some outcome does NOT automatically lead to a good result – or, in fact, any result at all!
Not surprising, really, when you consider the number of things in play any time a group of people come together on a task – group dynamics, power differences, individual preferences and priorities, variances in understanding and skill, different types of technical expertise – the list goes on and on.
By establishing a role – that of the facilitator – focused primarily on thinking through how the group can best work together to achieve its objectives and on guiding and monitoring the process, and by ensuring that the chosen facilitator has the combination of skill, background, and expertise to fulfill this role effectively, most groups can dramatically improve their outcomes – and help lead their organizations to better results, faster.