Throughout the previous chapters, we have asserted that the power of facilitation:
- can help us strategically think better together;
- can transform organizations and enable positive and sustainable cultural change, at all levels and across all business lines;
- can create the time and space for critical thinking to flourish and innovation to blossom;
- can enable individuals, groups and nations to resolve conflicts constructively, moving from a mentality of “beat and defeat” to “together we can”;
- can help groups of disparate individuals evolve into high performing teams and collaborate at a higher level;
- can help us individually identify and reach our innermost aspirations and our highest potential; and,
- is ageless and is one of the reasons, and possibly a key reason, that humans have evolved to where we are today.
While some people might feel that where we have evolved to today is not a good thing, that is a discussion for another time. However, humans have been able to evolve and create many positive advances through collaboration and intentional conversations throughout our history. Perhaps we would have evolved to somewhere even better than where we find ourselves now, if the power of facilitation had been a bit more evident a bit earlier. We believe the impacts of the power of facilitation described in this book, offers us hope for the future and provides actionable, concrete steps that can help each of us—our groups, our organizations and our communities—to evolve, explore and grow a better shared future. Thinking together is key, and facilitation is the engine to get us there!
In this book, we have strived to make the case for the power of facilitation to be harnessed by us all—individuals, leaders, organizations and societies—to solve seemingly unsolvable problems.i That is, we realize, a daunting task that some would say is even a bit fanatical. They’re right. It is. However, throughout the preceding chapters we have not once said it was easy. Nor have we ever intonated it is pointless or hopeless.
Facilitation methods and tools are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to helping people think better together. In our experience, an exclusive focus on tools fails to unleash the true transformative impact that we know facilitation can ignite. We believe that the power of facilitation is derived from the competence, ethics, and also the stance of the facilitator. It is not only derived from the way we facilitate, but also the way think and act as facilitators. The skills, knowledge and attitudes of the facilitator—all underpinned by a deeply held philosophical belief in the power of facilitation—are what enables the types of transformative impacts described throughout this book. It is also what is necessary to move our groups, organizations and societies forward.
That being said, our deepest hope is that we have ignited a spark in you. We want you to experiment with the power of facilitation and utilize some of the ideas in this book. We want you to explore how to help your teams and communities think better together. We invite you to take on the stance of a facilitator. We think the results you get will then inspire you to explore facilitation further.
OK, I’m convinced of the Power of Facilitation. So how do I harness it?
Discovering the power of facilitation is the most important step towards harnessing its strength and potential. This book was written as a collaborative effort by a group of dedicated and, yes fanatical, facilitators. Our aim is to both speak to the converted and to help others to discover this power. Our ultimate goal with this book is to help individuals, groups, organizations and societies to grow, expand and thrive by applying the power of facilitation in their own context.
As a decision-maker, you can harness the power of facilitation by being a facilitative leader. You can also utilize the skills and processes throughout this book to help people engage in the intentional conversations needed to answer the unsolvable problems, resolve the conflicts, change the culture, create and innovate. You can invest in bringing in an expert to help design the process(es) best suited for your engagement, task or situation. You can train in process facilitation. And you can encourage and support your staff to learn about facilitation themselves. You can also ensure your people have the time and space to hold the authentic, and sometimes difficult, conversations and think critically together. But most importantly you can hold true the values of facilitated collaboration and the belief that the best decisions are based on the wisdom of everyone involved.
It is our contention that, the power of facilitation can be harnessed around the world. It can be harnessed to build understanding, to discover and strengthen connections, to resolve conflicts, to solve seemingly unsolvable problems, to strengthen creativity and innovation and to universally engage people in decision-making.
As we stated in the introduction, today maybe more than any point in our history, facilitation—the philosophy, the skill, the process and the profession—is critical to our future. To survive and thrive as groups, teams, organizations and societies, we need to utilize the power of facilitation to help us hold the authentic and intentional conversations that will help us understand ourselves, each other and the world around us. And in order to move through the chaos, uncertainty, disruption and divisiveness that seems so prevalent today, we need facilitation, and facilitators, to create the space and processes to enable us all to think together. We need to help people both speak and listen, think critically and creatively, and explore ideas that support, challenge and conflict with their own. But, most importantly, we need to help people believe in what is possible and ensure that everyone’s wisdom contributes to the development of the wisest results.
To harness the power of facilitation, we need to challenge ourselves to live a facilitative lifestyle. We need to systematically and deliberatively, think about how to engage others in everything we do and every decision we make. Einstein was famously quoted as saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” We are saying it is time to do things differently. We hope the stories of the impact of facilitation and the ideas shared in this book will give each of us the confidence to think better together by harnessing the power of facilitation!
Our parting thoughts
Motivational speaker Steve Gilliland writes, “The true joy in life is in the trip, so enjoy the Ride!”ii As a collection of colleagues from around the world, we began with the intention to write about our individual and collective insights into the power of facilitation. All our work was done virtually, across five continents and eight time zones. And while it may have seemed like a daunting task, we had a lot of fun along the way. We continuously learned, explored and challenged ourselves and each other. During a final authors’ and visual contributors’ meeting, we engaged in a self-facilitated reflection about the processes we used to develop and write the book, the interactions we had and the lessons we learnt. We laughed, we commiserated, we talked a lot about the time and the effort it took. But on one thing we all agreed, we definitely enjoyed the ride!
Collectively, we are now even more ‘fanatical’ about facilitation and the impacts it can ignite. We see this book not as the end of the conversation or of our work together but as the beginning of what we hope will be an exciting and expanding global dialogue. How can we collaborate to create the team, organization, community, world we want to live and work in? How can we think together better in ways that see our decisions and actions leading to positive results and impacts? How can we all harness the power of facilitation to improve our lives, communities and organizations?
Our collective purpose of writing this book was to inspire you to discover and unleash the power of facilitation in yourself and others. All solutions start with a conversation. We hope this book will be the catalyst for your own very interesting conversations. We also hope that you will be inspired to weave facilitation and facilitative principles throughout your life, your interactions, your thinking, your decision-making and your actions. But most of all, we hope that you will take the ideas, examples and concepts in this book and play with them in your own work and your own life. We invite you to join us in seeking to unleash the power of facilitation to ignite profound and transformative positive change everywhere.
We want to hear from you, the reader, about how the power of facilitation has made an impact in your life. We want to hear about your experiences in this area. How have you used the power of facilitation? What impacts have you witnessed or been a part of? How would you like to use the power of facilitation to change the world? Join the conversation, ask questions and share your own examples of the power of facilitation at #FacPower.
i. Kahane, A. (2007). Solving Tough Problems: An Open Way of Talking, Listening, and Creating New Realities (2nd ed.). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
ii. Gilliland, S. (2019). Enjoy The Ride (Second ed.). Pearhouse Press..