Enabling Effectiveness: Facilitating Collaboration and Capability

September 9, 2010

Group Facilitation: Why it’s necessary in organisations

Filed under: Facilitation — admin @ 6:07 pm

Group facilitation is “..the process of helping groups… to learn, find a solution, or reach a consensus, without imposing or dictating an outcome. Facilitation works to empower individuals or groups to learn for themselves or find their own answers to problems without control or manipulation..”.
If we define a group process as a gathering of a specific group of people to achieve a predetermined objective, then the role of the group is to provide the content necessary for achieving the objective and the role of the Facilitator is to guide the group to the achievement of the objective.
Any of us who have been in a meeting that is ineffectively managed will know how frustrating it is and how much time is wasted when:

  • the group veers off track
  • participants are unable to add value in the meeting and do not need to be there
  • people are distracted and focusing on e-mails, mobile phones etc
  • One or two people dominate the discussion and not everyone is given an opportunity to participate
  • the purpose and objective of the meeting are unclear
  • there are no clear outcomes and actions from the meeting

In real terms, ill-managed meetings are extremely costly to an organisation and indeed to the people who attend them.  Consider as a very simple exercise to illustrate the point the average cost per person per hour and multiply this by the length of the average meeting and the number of people attending it.  Now if most of these people leave the meeting feeling frustrated, consider the amount of time it will take for each of them to get their energy back up and into a productive, value-adding state.  What is the cost of the time wasted?  Then, consider that some of these people will chat with colleagues to complain about the meeting and to share their feelings frustration, what impact will this have on the people they talk to and how much time is being wasted now?

Why is Facilitation an important process and why is the Facilitator an important role?  Because both prevent the negative consequences that result from discussion sessions that waste individuals’, groups and organisation’s time, contributions, energy, and productivity.  Instead, well Facilitated sessions enable the realization of the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.  Facilitated sessions create an environment in which participants are able to productively contribute toward the achievement of a particular objective, and to agree on shared actions and outcomes for progress.  What is the impact of this?

  • People leave such a session feeling meaningful and valued, they leave feeling productive
  • There is greater probability that the participants will continue to work together after the discussion to ensure that the resulting actions are performed
  • There is greater probability that there will be a sense of shared responsibility
  • Much less time will be wasted complaining and there is a much greater chance that the communication.

Vasintha Pather, MD inter-arise

June 2010

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