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 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.