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Dynamic Facilitation/Choice-Creating


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 now.)

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)
  • Concerns
  • Data.

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; or visit his website

Rosa Zubizarreta also does excellent Dynamic Facilitation training workshops. Her Diapraxis firm is based in Massachusetts.


See also

Dynamic Facilitation Training for Activists

Wisdom Council - 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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