Facilitation as a Cooperative Process
Facilitation is an integral part of the work that ACET engages in with many of our clients. Facilitation is more than management or team leadership, as Hunter, Bailey, and Taylor state in The Art of Facilitation, “The main belief behind group facilitation is that full cooperation between all people is both possible and desirable...” (p. 1). Therefore, using this idea, we view facilitation as a process that is continually being adjusted and improved, in order to achieve full cooperation, participation, and movement among all members of the team or group.
In order for facilitation to be a cooperative process, it is important to create trust through positive interaction and relationship building. Oftentimes, this is established through various methods, such as icebreakers and creating ground rules, known as developing “common ground.” Trust-building processes are an important priority for the first meeting, and they’re also essential in subsequent meetings as relationships develop or become taxed. At ACET, we have found that identifying the common ground early is an essential piece of relationship building, as this common ground can be referenced in times of disagreement or conflict.
It is also important for group members to know that facilitators are often not subject-matter experts but serve to “guide the group towards a destination” and “protect the group process” (Hunter, Bailey, and Taylor, The Art of Facilitation). Identifying the facilitator’s relationship to the group is an important step in building trust and moving toward a cooperative process.
Once relationship building has been integrated into the structure of the facilitation process, activities for moving the group forward include:
Delphi Technique: https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-22/edition-7/delphi-method.
Collective Impact: https://www.collectiveimpactforum.org/what-collective-impact.
Consensus Method: https://www.nj.gov/education/AchieveNJ/teams/strat14/FacilitatorToolKit.pdf.
As with any group process, disagreement will arise. As a facilitator, it’s important to acknowledge any points of conflicts and not ignore these signals of disagreement. Rather than seeing disagreement as something to avoid, we see disagreement as something that can be constructive and framed as a problem to be solved with multiple options moving forward. An important technique of the cooperative approach to facilitation is about understanding members’ differences and continuing to work together to find common ground, rather than seeing each other as the problem (Hunter, Bailey, and Taylor, The Art of Facilitation).
If you’re interested in having ACET help you with facilitation, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer a free initial consultation!