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Report on a dynamic facilitation in an organization



Here's a great little writeup of a dynamic facilitation done in the summer of 2000.  The executive sponsor's name has been changed and the facilitator/writer will remain anonymous, to protect the confidentiality of the client and participants. -- Tom


Well, I did my first dynamic facilitation today.  Wanda, always a risk taker, invited me to facilitate her staff's discussion of their draft business plan.

It was fun and it went well.  Dynamic facilitation reminds me of white water kayaking: you just put your paddle into the water at a certain angle and the power of the water can spin the boat.  The power of the water (in this case, the group energy) does all the work.

Wanda's staff is smart and diverse.  I let them do almost all the talking, and talk they did.  Where they ended up was quite different from where they started.  I was very pleased to be asked back to facilitate their next session.

So what did I learn and what did I find that worked? I went in trusting the process and trusting that we would end up somewhere useful.  This was very helpful when we seemed to be eddying around or when energy and attention dropped.  I trusted that this group would find the solution (and problem) that worked for them.  I also trusted my intuition. I did a lot less reflecting back than I thought that I would---somehow my speaking seemed to stop the group flow.  So I kept quiet and they kept talking and working things out.

I am glad that I understood that part of the process is descending to a negative, dark level.  We went there and came back up. In traditional facilitation I would actively move the group from this position.  With dynamic facilitation the group used the insights from this unpleasant state to craft part of the solution.

The group did not want to stop after they had a breakthrough.  They went directly to the next step.  To demonstrate this I changed my pen color. Then when they wanted to sketch out a work plan I changed the color yet again.  This seemed to work well in delineating the different components of the solution.

Everyone was pleased when we finished.  I did reflect back and also sincerely complimented the group on the hard and creative work they had done.  Old habits die hard however--they want to preserve all the sheets of paper that I took (pages and pages of difficult to read scrawl).  One group member memorialized them with his digital camera.  I then took the group's photo as they said "strategic planning".

A last thought.  Dynamic facilitation is very respectful of the group participants.  The facilitator, by trusting the process is also trusting the creativity and ability of the group participants.  I think that the group I worked with picked up on this at some gut level.

Hats off to Wanda for using this process with her group.  Given the pressures on her from her conservative management and the time line she has been given for a product, this demonstrates her trust in the process.  And thank you Wanda for letting me facilitate.