Facilitation for 100 people? How to cope that?


Photo by M. Jakubowska

Facilitation is the key of service design projects. According to Schein (1990) facilitation is a process of HELPING, putting more emphasize on inquiry of the problem, and combining methods that will help facilitator be enabler, not a leader of the process with the approach of owning the problem. In the last project I became a part of (with team of 7 other facilitators) I tried to follow this rule.

Project theme: 8-hour jam for Banking Industry to bring innovation into everyday worklife
Project style: inspired by Jams (Adam Lawrence was also a leader of the project and main facilitator)
Customer: International Bank
Attendees: 120 attendees from different divisions
Goal: sevice prototypes presenting new service innovations which will be implemented by internal delegated team with decision makers from the bank

Facilitation strategy in the project

  1. For 120 attendees we created a 7 facilitators team, 2 logistic people and 2 video/media creators.
  2. We spread into pairs – 2 facilitators where responsible for specific groups tables.
    Insight: This was really helpful in the Jam style of project. Everything is happening so fast, that even if you know all of the tools (and we were prepare to that) it is great to support your colleague and sometimes their attendees if they need additional help, it is good also for observing
  3. Each facilitator has the role and a printed plan with goals of all phases and tool with specific prompts, and they all knew and test the tool before the project. It was important to give intructions during different phases for attendees.
  4. As mentioned above – the rule was to help, enable them to create, not to dive into the content and create ideas with the groups
  5. Objectivity – another insight: don’t trigger your attendees with positive reviews and appraisal of their ideas. Motivate them, but don’t dive into the content.
  6. Time constraints – were one of the key elements of Jam style facilitation. It was really important to motivate groups to work on different phases, but don’t stuck in a specific phase too long, which was crucial for project overall.
  7. Feedback session after the project: essential for facilitators! From main facilitator, pair facilitator and a group (method: What I learned, What I liked, What I wish)All in all it was a wonderful experience!!!

Next step in my facilitation roadmap: Online facilitation project

I want to challenge the facilitation and helping process in the online environment next year (this is something like new year resolution :).

According to Stephen J. Thorpe, “Online Facilitator Competencies for Group Facilitators” ,2016) a facilitator should concentrate on 7 fields of competencies:

  1. Develops a shared group purpose,
  2. Sets and maintains a shared group culture,
  3. Plans and prepares,
  4. Is knowledgeable and able to work with online collaborative tools,
  5. Is knowledgeable and able to work with process or methods,
  6. Is communicating with presence online,
  7. Is a reflective practitioner.

Keep your fingers crossed to support my resolution! 

Do you have any new year resolutions to share with? Please write them in the comments (of course connected with facilitation or service design)


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