Facilitation is frequently referred to as a process of supporting people to learn.  It plays an important role in helping to develop respectful collaborative relationships and safe spaces for learning and development.   Good group processes are a critical foundation for humane and effective public services that recognise the part that everyone needs to play in developing valued outcomes and positive cultures.  

As action researchers, we see facilitation as a way to promote new cultures of inquiry and engagement and to develop practice through mutual learning, appreciation and collaborative action.

“The success or failure of an action research venture often depends on what happens at the beginning of the inquiry process: in the way access is established, and on how participants and co-researchers are engaged early on. ‘Opening communicative space’ is important because, however we base our theory and practice of action research, the first steps are fateful.” Gayá Wicks, P and Reason, P (2009)

Group process facilitation

Facilitators can help to co-design and guide many different small or larger group processes.  These include bespoke workshops and one-off events, Open Space or World Café events, action inquiry groups or action learning sets.  We pay attention to how best to establish an engaging, safe and trusting environment in which people feel able to explore important or sensitive issues and move beyond more superficial levels of learning.

There are lots of group process tools and toolkits publicly available, which contain useful activities and tools that can help to promote appreciative and relational dialogue. Facilitating Appreciative Dialogue – Guidance on How to Choose and Work with Tools from My Home Life Scotland sets out some of the ways that we might make choices about whether and how to use specific tools.  This will help people develop a repertoire of approaches, to be able to improvise and invent, as facilitators of appreciative dialogue, individual and collaborative learning.

Bespoke, in-house or jointly commissioned courses on appreciative and relational facilitation can be designed to suit the needs of an organisation or partnership.  Just get in touch to discuss.

Action learning

Action learning is a small group approach based on the idea that collective reflection on experience can expand and create new knowledge and improve practice. It is a practical approach with a structure and discipline likely to be useful to enhance self and peer reflection.  It also helps people to develop and refresh questioning and listening skills useful in many professional and volunteer roles.  Our approach is appreciative and relational –  geared towards sets becoming sustainable by being self-facilitating over time.  Action Learning can be offered face to face or on-line.  If you are interested in commissioning or joining an action learning set, please get in touch.

Focus on Appreciative Facilitation – An invitation to join an on-line reflective practice set (2021-22)

This on-line set is an opportunity to help you to develop and spread practices of relationship-centred and appreciative facilitation. Blending the principles of action learning and appreciative inquiry, the intention is to co-create a space for slow reflection and play, to support practical learning and help to develop shared responsibility for group dynamics and experiences.

As a small group of practitioners, we will reflect on the live issues we are working with and consider what action we each may take with the intention of changing the way that we work. We will encourage each other to try things out in our own environment between sessions. This approach recognises that people learn best when they learn with and from each other – by working on real problems and reflecting on their own experiences. As an on-line set, this is based on the expectation that everything we do can be translated into both your own on-line and off-line learning spaces.

We are seeking to establish a small group of 5-6 participants able to commit to the full series of five sessions, using Zoom. Dates and times are:

  • Thursday 14 October 2021 (1-4pm, UTC+1)
  • Thursday 11 November 2021 (1-4pm, UTC)
  • Thursday 9 December 2021 (1-4pm, UTC)
  • Thursday 20 January 2022 (1-4pm, UTC)
  • Thursday 17 February 2022 (1-4pm, UTC)

More details are available here Focus on Facilitation 2021. If you are interested, please contact Cathy to express an interest before 27th August 2021.  Contact details:  [email protected]

The offer can also be adapted for an ‘in-house’/partnership group, with fees and timings by arrangement.