Monday, August 25, 2014

You know you're a group facilitator if:

The popularity of my post, "You know you're a storyteller if ..." inspired me to work on this one.

Eighteen ways to know if you're a group facilitation expert:
  1. You have three different colored markers and masking tape in your briefcase.
  2. You can thoughtfully distinguish between facilitating learning, facilitating group development, and facilitating collaborative problem solving and decision making. Other uses of "facilitating" make you groan.
  3. You wonder, when you're invited to a meeting, if their facilitator will be as good as you.
  4. You wonder, when you're invited to a meeting, if they really just want you to facilitate.
  5. You wonder, when you're invited to a meeting, if they will let you facilitate.
  6. When invited to a meeting you ask about its purpose, what's on the agenda, what decisions are to be made, if all the people necessary to make a decision will be present, if sufficient time has been scheduled, and if they're really inviting you so you'll facilitate.
  7. Your hands have multi-colored splotches.
  8. You can explain the history of the term "brainstorming" and lament how it is misused.
  9. People ask how you manage to remember everyone's name.
  10. You have a particular technique for ripping off a sheet of flip chart paper so it doesn't leave behind a residual shred of paper at the perforation.
  11. You can explain Brainstorming, Nominal Group Technique, Technology of Participation, Future Search, Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space Technology, and World Cafe.
  12. Several books on your shelf have "meeting," "group," and/or "facilitation," "facilitator," "facilitating," or "facilitative" in their titles.
  13. You believe in the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group.
  14. You strive to help the group make the best use of the contributions of each of its members.
  15. You set aside your personal opinions and support the group's right to make its own choices.
  16. You believe that collaborative and cooperative interaction builds consensus and produces meaningful outcomes.
  17. No one understands what you do for a living.
  18. You are right now thinking of another way "you know you're a group facilitator if ..." What is it?


  1. These made me laugh, as they are spot on....ANOTHER way you know you are a facilitator, when the group thinks they could have gotten there (the outcome) without you, but it was nice having you. :) (it just seemed so effortless)

  2. Love it Sandy. Will post on IAF Oceania LinkedIn and Facebook - also retweeted from @IAFOceania.
    Another way - was about to add but see 'Anonymous' has covered it.

  3. You have numerous butchers paper pads in your office, in varying states of use & age!

  4. Here goes another one: You know you are a facilitator, when you enter a meeting/training room and the first thing you look at are the walls

  5. Additional comments from the Facilitation Professionals LinkedIn Group:

    Geoffrey Manthey

    Was thinking of more ways and then I got to number 18. LOL

    Andy Claughton

    You know how to peel off a Post-It without it ending up curly.

    Eris Weaver

    ...if you always carry flip charts and easels in your car, just in case.

    Pam Finnie

    You redistribute the markers you absent mindedly picked up in one organisation to other organsiations in order to alleviate the guilt of picking them up.

    Eddie Kerr

    ...if you know when to make a tactical intervention and when to make a strategic withdrawal and of course the best time to say nothing and let everyone else make the comments.......your turn.....

    Nati Danielson

    When you dont the answer and instead of parking it, you turn into a game/challenge and first one to find it wins...

    John Bright

    When you answer questions with a question even when your not facilitating....that really frustrates my wife an kiddos!

    Beatrice Briggs

    Along the same lines of "even when you are not facilitating"...You summarize what others have said and check that you accurately captured their ideas before sharing your own thoughts. Some people find this irritating :)

    Kymberly Dakin, M Ed. Adult Education

    You can argue the various merits of Post-it flipcharts over traditional flipcharts. You tend, in conversation, (even though you know you shouldn't!) to "type" people according to their expected roles in a group discussion: 1st/2nd Adaptor, Skeptic, Resistor, AND by their Myers-Briggs Type OR their _______ type......

    Alton Williams

    When your family and friends in vole you when they have differences in prospective.

    Chuck Teegarden

    Great blog! You could have mentioned something about possessing large and small adhesive dots of various colors!

    Sandor Schuman

    Good point, Chuck Teegarden, and the strips of dots are cut to various lengths to limit the number of dots each person gets.

    Jan Lelie

    ... when you're able just "to be present".
    ... when you understand the answer to a good question is "I don't know".
    ... when you accept the situation is desperate, but not hopeless.

    Enrique Barajas

    When you're observing another facilitaor and day dreaming (maybe fantasizing) about how you'd approach a scenario differently throughout the entire process.

    Nicole Paquet

    Great list! Here's another one ... When a group is amazed (and very sceptical at first) at your ability to translate all those flip chart notes into a meaningful, coherent, articulate report!

    Cordell Wesselink

    When you're at a party or just with a group of friends and you can't help but ask a meaningful question to get the group talking on a deeper level.

  6. I hope you had a positive experience collaborating with me for a session at DDD was a positive experience; we had a tough cynical audience. I still remember the toy frogs. :)

    1. I still have toy frogs! Oh, the things we do for a little fun!


Any comments?