Philosophy of Facilitation

Philosophy of Facilitation

Learning Objectives: To understand Leadership Inspiration’s philosophy behind facilitation.

One of Leadership Inspiration’s core values is intentionality. Everything we do as a company has a purpose, and this extends to the way that we facilitate the growth of everyone we work with. Facilitation to us is motivated by a commitment to maximizing learning while considering a group’s unique characteristics and needs.

What is Facilitation?

At its core, facilitation is the act of making something easier. However, this definition does not fully capture facilitation in the context of leadership development. Facilitation is the process of guiding a group through challenges. Facilitation makes a group’s development “easier” by providing them with structure and support through the learning process. It must be noted that facilitation is not simply “telling” or lecturing a group on a topic you wish for them to learn. Instead, facilitation is guiding a group to find meaning in an experience or achieve a certain goal. To illustrate this, it is easiest to examine the role of a facilitator to a group.

A facilitator can be a member of the group or an outsider, but they must be removed from the participation process. As mentioned earlier, the facilitator’s job is not to tell a group the lesson in an activity, but to ask the group what they learned from the experience. A good facilitator gets conversations started, provides structure, and encourages discussion but does not contribute to the conclusions drawn by the group members. In a similar way, it is the facilitator’s job to understand the characteristics and needs of the group in order to challenge them appropriately. It is important for a facilitator to assess what stage of the group development model a group is at and present them with an appropriate challenge or activity. In this way, a facilitator makes a group’s growth “easier.”

The Kolb Facilitation Model

Our preferred structure of facilitation follows the Kolb Model.

It is common for students to ask why we are doing certain activities because they seem silly and irrelevant. After all, when else are you ever going to be asked to untangle yourselves from a human knot as a leader? We choose to do activities for two reasons:

  1. You play how you practice. While activities may seem silly, how groups navigate activities often reveals a great deal about how they interact outside of the activity. These activities often allow the group to learn in a “practice” setting to improve their dynamics for the future.
  2. ConeYou learn more. Edgar Dale’s Cone of Learning identifies what we remember after a two week period. His study showed that the nature of involvement in the learning process correlates with how much we remember. He found that we remember most when we are active participants in the learning process. Therefore, activities are better for engaging a group in the learning process. 

Finally, you will notice that a very important part of the Kolb Model is debriefing. Debriefing is a very complex topic that is covered in much more detail in other articles available on this site, but in general, a good debrief is influenced by the philosophy of facilitation discussed in the first three paragraphs of this article. Skilled debriefing takes a good deal of practice and patience. It allows participants to draw their own conclusions under the guidance of the facilitator. In the end, the facilitator makes it “easier” for the group to learn from activities but recognizes that those lessons are their own. 

As you can see, there is a lot to learn about facilitation and debriefing. We hope that the content and resources you find on this site are useful in your leadership experience.