Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Top 15 Ways to Know You're a Group Facilitator - Serious

My previous post, You know you're a group facilitator if …, drew many additional suggestions. I compiled 38 of them and conducted a poll; 165 people responded. Following are the 15 highest scoring statements that “say something delightful and uniquely characteristic of group facilitation.” They are listed in order, high scores on top. I should note that the Top 4 were all excerpted from IAF's Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Group Facilitators. (It's a good thing they received the top scores!)

A number of people commented that the list included both serious and humorous statements and it was not clear how they should respond. As you'll see, most respondents chose the more serious ones. In The Top 20 Ways to Know You're a Group Facilitator - Humorous I have selected some of the more humorous indicators.

You know you're a group facilitator if …
  1. you believe in the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group.
  2. you believe that collaborative interaction builds consensus and produces meaningful outcomes.
  3. you strive to help the group make the best use of the contributions of each of its members.
  4. you set aside your personal opinions and support the group’s right to make its own choices.
  5. you summarize what others have said and check that you accurately captured their ideas before sharing your own thoughts.
  6. you know that a good answer to a question is “I don't know.”
  7. when you enter a meeting room, the first thing you look at are the walls.
  8. several books on your shelf have “meeting,” “group,” and/or “facilitation,” “facilitator,” “facilitating,” or “facilitative” in their titles.
  9. you can accept that a situation is desperate, but not hopeless.
  10. you know when to make a tactical intervention and when to make a strategic withdrawal and, of course, when to say nothing.
  11. you’re able just “to be present.”
  12. 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.
  13. when the group thinks they could have gotten to the outcome without you, but it was nice having you.
  14. you can explain Brainstorming, Nominal Group Technique, Technology of Participation, Future Search, Appreciative Inquiry, Open Space Technology, and World Cafe.
  15. when you answer questions with a question – even when you’re not facilitating.


  1. Excellent! I am trying to work up an online supervisor facilitation "course" using my Square Wheels theme (now in LEGO!) with the goal of allowing a person to go through the simple course and being prepared to have a meeting with their people. I would suggest that a few of these would apply directly to the supervisor who asks for involvement and engagement of their people in rolling things forward more better faster.

    I read these as "Professional Facilitator" frameworks.

    And I wonder what items would apply to a manager or supervisor simply trying to facilitate a group discussion...

    In a related way, I wonder what a list of things that roadblock organizational facilitation would look like. Seems like an awful lot of managers feel that involving people and facilitating discussions simply cannot be accomplished in their workplaces. 50% of people do not feel that their boss respects them, as one supporting datapoint.

    Your thoughts?

    1. I think your idea of a list of roadblocks could be insightful. As an example, building on your observation that many people do not feel respected by their bosses, how's this:

      You facilitate a meeting so your subordinates will feel involved and consulted because you want them to buy into the decision you have already made.


Any comments?