Even though facilitators should always be prepared for their gigs, they have to be comfortable with improvisation. Just like jazz musicians, facilitators know their tunes and their melodies by heart but they also know how to recompose and reorganize them in order to find the right sound for the moment.
Facilitators are curious, compassionate, creative and constructive. This is at least the conclusion of Moritz Gekeler in his blog post Facilitator: A collaboration magician. I can confirm these characteristics easily. The more I facilitate, the more I see how essential the 4 Cs are. It needs curiosity, compassion, a constructive attitude and creativity to:
- see and understand an event from the participants’ perspective
- shape and sharpen an event’s purpose that everyone supports;
- develop an agenda with the organizing team and make it a shared event;
- be flexible and ready to improvise.
I would like to add a 5th ‘C’ to the list: calmness.
A well prepared and thought through process allows participants to take the floor and brings the facilitator to the background. The spot light is for them, not me. The calm facilitator trusts the process and the participants and intervenes only if necessary.
Each workshop has a rhythm, a pace like a piece of music or a story. Some parts are faster and rougher, others are slow. I love the unhurried moments when participants dive into deep thinking, build on each other’s ideas, generate insights and start co-creating novel solutions.
Facilitation is a craft and probably even more importantly a question of being fully present and calm. Years back, a colleague told me: “You just have to stand there”. Indeed, again and again, I made the experience that how I am and how I enter the workshop room is making the difference. Since I read the blog post How to Be the Sage Commander by Crane Stookey I try to stop and state my intention before I enter the workshop room.
What are your 5 Cs? How would you characterize the facilitator?