Dynamic facilitation, created by consultant Jim Rough, is a facilitation
style that follows the energy of a group without constraining that
energy to agendas or exercises. Using this style, someone can facilitate
a highly co-creative process Jim calls "choice-creating."
The two terms -- dynamic facilitation and choice-creating process
-- are often used interchangeably. (This is convenient, if not technically
correct, and you don't have to worry about the difference right
Since dynamic facilitation depends on group energy, it is most
effective where there IS group energy. Group energy will tend
to be present in situations like these:
- There's conflict in the group.
- The group shares a passionate interest in something.
- They are immersed in a common problem.
- They work or live together all the time.
Dynamic facilitation invites the underlying group energy out into
the group space and lets it flow. The facilitator does
- make sure people feel safe to talk,
- evoke both head and heart energies,
- help people feel heard and understood,
- help the group escape from any energy-deadening conversational
"black holes" they stumble into,
Unlike many other facililitators, the dynamic facilitator does not
- direct the group,
- work for agreement or decisions
- establish behavioral norms,
- take responsibility for the group's progress
The facilitator is servant to the group's energy. The facilitator
helps people share whatever information or views they brought into
the meeting. This informs the group of the knowledge it has available
to it, while freeing up group members' attention so they can better
listen to each other and co-create together.
The facilitator writes people's comments on a number of large sheets
of paper, labeled
- Problems (or Situation Statements, or Inquiries),
- Solutions (or Possibilities or Options)
Although a particular group or purpose may require other categories,
any group struggling with a situation will find these four categories
invite the group's energy to flow in productive directions. When
new problem statements, possible solutions, concerns and data are
allowed to surface at any time, the group's collective thought becomes
more fluid, nurturing shifts and breakthroughs at both the head
level (e.g., a group "aha!") and the heart level (e.g.,
healed relationships, deepened feelings). Shifts that happen in
a choice-creating meeting often have lasting effects on relationships
and conversations that go on outside the meeting, which are, after
all, where we live.
Dynamic facilitation is often quite non-linear, which can be disconcerting
for those of us dependent on agendas or other solid evidence of
progress. Most people find, however, that the freedom of expression,
the energy in the room, and the remarkable creativity that so often
bubbles up, are reason enough to go with the flow for a few hours
and see what happens. More likely than not, the results will be
more satisfying than all the efforts we usually channel into crafting
a specific outcome.
The above description is intended only to give you a brief taste
of this unusual process -- what it's like and why it is the way
it is. For further information, see:
A Dynamic Facilitation Manual
This is Rosa Zubizarreta's remarkable Manual
for Jim Rough's Dynamic Facilitation Method. Highly recommended.
Training in Dynamic Facilitation
The Dynamic Facilitation/Choice-Creating method, due to its intuitive
and energetic nature, is not easily learned from a written description.
For more information on the training, contact: Jim Rough,
1040 Taylor St., Port Townsend, WA 98368; 360-385-7118; jim@ToBe.net.
or visit his website http://www.ToBe.net.
Rosa Zubizarreta also does excellent Dynamic
Facilitation training workshops. Her Diapraxis firm is based
Dynamic Facilitation Training
- a democratic innovation using Dynamic Facilitation to call forth
a real We the People
"At first I thought of dynamic facilitation
as a little tool.
Then it became a little window or door.
And the next thing I knew
I saw it was a whole new universe...
-- Elliot Shuford, activist facilitator
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