What’s Your Facilitation Like?

Facilitators worldwide have been celebrating their trade in #FacWeek : there have been all kinds of online and in-person events to mark the occasion, bringing together new groupings of people who call themselves facilitators. 

They’ve revealed to me how, we’re still working out our shared identity. Facilitation has some overlap with participative training, and some overlap with Agile coaching. Many managers have facilitation as a part of their role. So do many consultants.

My Remote Agile Facilitation course (with Adventures With Agile) touches on this identity question when I ask participants, “When you are facilitating at your best, you are like… what?”

Recent answers included:

  • Casper the friendly ghost
  • an orchestral conductor
  • glue
  • Mary Poppins
  • a cycling group ride leader.  

Regular readers may recognise this question: it’s a brilliant way to get a group started with metaphor and Clean Language, if that’s your aim. It’s also a great way to get people thinking differently about their own professional identity. 

You can put any job role into the “facilitating” spot in the question. For example, “When you’re teaching at your best…’ Or, with an occupationally mixed group, you can use, “When you are working at your best…”, but that may produce slightly different answers.

When I’m working at my best, I’ve always claimed, I’m like a clockwork octopus on a unicycle, juggling! But when I ask myself about facilitating at my best, something different emerges. It’s like… I’m still an octopus, but in a more natural habitat, doing more octopus-like things.

Octopus-like activities can be interesting and fun: changing colour in my sleep or solving escapology problems, for example.  But they don’t have that forced, look-at-me quality that I bring to my work when I’m not facilitating. When I’m blogging, for example!

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