BLOG Being the FacilitatorJohnnie Moore and Cathy Salit, two experienced facilitators, had a conversation about:

  • What facilitation means
  • What it means to BE the facilitator
  • How people learn

I found their conversation inspiring. Their exchange is a real treasure. Listen to the podcast and get inspired yourself: Becoming who we are not: facilitation as performance 

Facilitation is helping people to collaborate

Facilitation is not about having clever tricks to make people behave differently; it’s about helping people discover and grow together.
Johnnie Moore

This is key point I take away and which resonates with my understanding of facilitation. Cathy Salit and Johnnie Moore argue that facilitation is a dance between “giving direction” and “giving space”. The facilitator is acting on the fine line between being fully visible and active to being in the background. Behind “giving space” (and I would add the little word “safe” here “giving a safe space”) lays the question what people need in a workshop setting in the first place in order to learn? It is clearly not being filled up with information. It is rather having time for reflection and making sense of information and challenges. It is “asking big questions about little things” that engage people most. I see the workshop space as the participants’ space. It is a privileged moment in their busy work life to interact, explore, share, reflect, and cocreate. Personally I always have the feeling I am doing a good job when I am invisible. To me the essential about facilitation is to help people to collaborate so that they can do their best work.

Learning is not just in your head, it wires our full selves.
Cathy Salit

And I really love this quote:

How a child learns to walk: not by being instructed, but by pretending to walk until it can.
Johnnie Moore

It is in my experience the same for facilitation: “Pretend to facilitate until you can.” Facilitation is like biking, it is a question of practice and confidence, of becoming the facilitator and being the facilitator.

What is your understanding of being the facilitator?

Read also: Creative Facilitation by Johnnie Moore and Viv McWaters

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