When you look at the various skills of the facilitator, a key one for me is this: facilitation is asking questions.
Feeding into the willingness to ask is curiosity whilst what spins out of questioning are further questions, better understanding, collaboration, and new thinking.
Historically, I would have been making a good trainer but quite a poor facilitator – using PowerPoint / Keynote to dictate the flow of the conversation / workshop / session; focusing on the messages that I wanted to get across; concentrating mainly on the symptoms rather than the cause.
Facilitation is asking, “why?” and driving for the root cause of an issue – giving the people in the room an opportunity to work with material that is 100% relevant to the organisation and giving them the chance to build solutions that can be applied.
Equally, as a critical thinking tool, facilitation is asking “why” all the time – not putting up with the barriers and beliefs that stop positive change taking place.
Facilitation Is Asking Why
We should all know about the open questions (starting with who, where, why, what who, and when) but it’s quite common in the workplace to try to answer questions immediately rather than go away and reflect – so we answer the open questions without thinking them through.
There can be a tendency to find ‘evidence’ to support your point of view rather than find arguments both for and against: giving a balanced response. Facilitation is asking for more (evidential) information and seeking out the balance.
One of the best facilitated sessions that I have attended is where people were not allowed to offer solutions to a particular issue but to ask qualifying questions instead (and, no, the question, “have you considered-?” is not a valid question in this approach). Do you fix before you qualify? Would we be happy with our medical professions suggesting surgery before a check-up?
Contact Neil to discuss facilitating your events: