Things worth learning: group facilitation



What

“A facilitator is a person who helps a group of people to work together better, understand their common objectives, and plan how to achieve these objectives, during meetings or discussions.” (Wikipedia)

Why

Everyone has to work in a group at some point in their lives, in school or at work or even in the family. Good facilitation makes groups far more effective than they would be otherwise. Unfortunately it is an undervalued skill, and rare in practice. On the plus side, that also means that there are plenty of opportunities to develop the skill if you want to.

How

I started out by studying a book that was recommended to me, Michael Wilkinson’s The Secrets of Facilitation: The S.M.A.R.T. Guide to Getting Results With Groups. Wilkinson has also published a condensed version of that book, titled Masterful Meetings. Wilkinson’s books make the subject accessible to almost anyone.

I was also fortunate to be able to observe skillful group facilitation at work, and could imitate some of what I saw.

From there it was a matter of practicing.

When

Like most students I had many group projects in school, starting as early as age 11 or 12. I wish that I had learned about this skillset back then, because I could have used it for decades.