(Oct 2018 – Unfortunately, Janet Danforth passed away recently and her partner, Robert Moir, has retired. Still, I leave this article online to honor the cutting edge work in 3D remote facilitation.) Coaching leaders and teams at various organizational levels, I am constantly amazed at how many people do not know how to facilitate a meeting. Facilitation is not about building a purpose and agenda that works for you and then “driving” that agenda. It’s about building a purpose and agenda that works for the audience you intend to collaborate and guide them through the agenda process to make a decision or produce some meaningful outcome from that meeting.
Facilitation has become recognized as such a fundamental skill, that two agile certifications have begun to incorporate facilitation in their certification process. To address those certification needs, the Agile Coaching Institute now offers a week long agile coaching bootcamp in which two days focus completely on facilitation. You can read more about that bootcamp and the changes in agile certifications on the ACI blog.
For years, I struggled with facilitation and trying to learn more about it. As I became more involved in the agile conferences in 2002-2005, I experienced amazing facilitated sessions from Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, Ellen Gottesdiener, and Jean Tabaka. I read everything they published on facilitation and went to every talk they gave to see how they did it. Later, I was able to observe the unique style of others and start to develop my own style as I volunteered to facilitate any meeting I could. I even had the amazing opportunity to co-teach and even assist Jean Tabaka in redesigning her Better Collaboration course (my all-time favorite course to teach).
I’m not sharing this to name drop. I’m sharing this for two reasons. First, all of these folks will be at the Agile2013 conference next week. Go see them! Second, I’m sharing this to show you a path that you can take to build up this fundamental collaboration muscle. To borrow from the Responsibility Process Model:
- I had the INTENTION to become better at collaboration and recognize that I had to build my facilitation skills
- I tuned my AWARENESS to observe and talk to any facilitation master I could find
- I would CONFRONT myself with the challenge of trying to facilitate new and different types of events to find my weak spots and build my facilitation muscle
If you have a similar intention to build your facilitation skills, I also wanted to make you aware of a unique opportunity. Last fall, I was invited to sit in on a new type of facilitation training. It is taught by two master facilitators, Janet Danforth and Robert Moir, who are IAF-Certified Professional Facilitators (CPF) and IAF CPF Assessors. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to get to know Bob and Janet over the last year and they are wonderful instructors. I would say their facilitation course is one of the best I know. The best part is that they not only have a face-to-face course, but they now offer the course in a 3D online environment that is available on evenings and weekends over 6 weeks. In the course, you will learn how to plan for collaborative meetings, how to open and close facilitative meetings, and how to guide a group through a collaborative agenda by guiding instead of “driving”. You also get to observe two master facilitators in an online environment (see the screen shot in this post). Information on the course is on Bob and Janet’s website.