Facilitation was a term I had heard of but not really understood until my friend introduced me to it at the end of last year. We are both really fascinated by group dynamics and the psychology of groups; this seemed to be a process that was fully inclusive and would bring together a group to collaborate in a structured way whilst having enough space for ideas to evolve and grow organically.
It was extremely appealing: in our new project, Peatland Connections, collaboration and inclusivity are key to its success, and from what I could tell the process of facilitation was the ideal approach for this project.
“The process of making something possible or easier." Cambridge Dictionary.
At the end of January I went through two days of training in facilitation led by Martin Pearson from Kinharvie. Over the two-day course we experienced what good facilitation looks like, as well as some of the tools and techniques that can be used to help meetings be productive and run smoothly.
There’s a great deal of planning and process that goes into preparing for facilitation, much more than I had imagined. Because the training was delivered using a facilitative approach the learning was reinforced through first-hand experience, which was a brilliant way to learn. I came away from the course really looking forward to trying out my new skills. Fast forward a few weeks and I was busy preparing for my first facilitation session with the CCC team. My first step was to understand the purpose of the meeting by writing a couple of clear concise sentences before I started. I planned which of the tools I wanted to use that would best fit the purpose and drafted a meeting schedule and suggested agreements for us working together. On the day I felt well prepared and relaxed, and a tiny bit nervous.
As the meeting got going, we started our first activity and went through the process of gathering ideas and collectively deciding which ones we wanted to look at more closely. As we went through the activity it felt like the group moved between different viewpoints collectively. Working as a team we brainstormed ideas, explored any potential issues, and finally reviewed these objectively at the end. The process worked and it was fun!
Reflecting on the session I learnt a lot; I would have done a few things differently but overall, it was a success and a really good way to work collaboratively.
The session reinforced an idea I had while on the course: if we only went through life taking a facilitative approach our interactions and communication with others would be greatly enhanced.
I am really looking forward to learning more and facilitating further groups in this way.
I've come away truly believing that facilitation is not just a process, it’s a really great way to interact with everyone in your life.