The word facilitation is derived from the Latin ‘facile’ which, simply translated, means ‘to make easy’. A facilitator is therefore someone who makes something easy for others. So how is facilitation different from other professional services that might also make something easier, such as consultancy, training or mediation? And how is facilitation different from other group leadership roles, such as chairing? Clarity of definition can help to manage expectations on the sides of the client, the group and the facilitator, and so achieve better outcomes.
A classic if lengthy definition is that of Roger Schwarz:
“Group facilitation is a process in which a person, whose selection is acceptable to all members of the group, is substantively neutral, and has no decision-making authority, diagnoses and intervenes to help a group improve how it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions, to increase the group’s effectiveness.” – Roger Schwarz.
This definition addresses three critical dimensions – the role or stance of the facilitator, what he or she does to make things easy; and to what purpose.
Firstly, the facilitator is neutral to the content and task of the group. That is not to say that the facilitator cannot or should not have any content expertise or any stake in the outcome of the task, but that the group must be able to have confidence that the facilitator will not allow these to influence the group’s work and decisions. In contrast, the consultant provides expert advice and the trainer imparts knowledge or skills, both contributing content expertise.
Secondly, what the facilitator does is to diagnose and intervene in how the group works. In other words, he or she contributes process rather than content expertise. The facilitator is not neutral to process, but indeed is granted responsibility for the group’s process, by the group. A leader cannot impose a facilitator on a group without its consent.
Excerpts are from Source: https://martingilbraith.com/facilitation-and-how-it-can-add-value/
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