A few years ago, a colleague from Namibia presented a scientific formula during his session. That got me thinking: What about a formula for effective facilitation? Could I construct one? After reflecting on it overnight, I was able to distil my years of facilitation experience into a formula that I have discovered to be rather useful. Henceforth, whenever I design facilitation sessions for any kind of event, it helps me ensure that my design covers all the key dimensions necessary for the sessions to be effective and empowering. So, what is that facilitation formula?
EF = (WE+DE+SF)
Empowering facilitation (EF) has five key elements as show above: Wide engagement (WE), Deep exploration (DE), Steady focus (SF), Trust in the facilitator (T1), and Facilitator´s trust in the audience.
So whenever I design a facilitated event, I provide for questions, techniques, and tools that maximises active engagement of the people in the audience. I also provide for structured opportunities for deep thinking and exploration by them of the key issues. Even while there is wide engagement and deep exploration, I ensure that the audience remains focused on the explicit objective of the session; that means we have to get agreement upfront on the desired objective of the session.
If we can get wide engagement of the audience, promote deep exploration, and maintain steady focus, our sessions will invariably be effective and empowering. However, there are two critical elements, without which that is not likely to happen. Those two elements are the audience´s trust in the facilitator (T1), and facilitator´s trust (T2) in the capacity of the audience. If we are unable to earn the trust of the audience, they will not be interested in engaging with us. On the other hand, if we, as leader-facilitators, do not have innate trust in the ability of the audience to think for themselves and generate ideas and solutions relevant to their context, then we might as well not facilitate. How do we earn trust? Perhaps that will be the subject of another post.
So there you are: My “formula” for effective and empowering facilitation. Do you use one?