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Facilitation & Group Processes

Are you a member of a group that is currently—   
    • facing important decisions that you all need to make together?   
    • dealing with destructive internal conflict that seems to elude resolution?   
    • heading into an unknown future that you’d like to clarify or shape?   
    • wishing to be more cohesive and collaborative?

Facilitation is a process in which a neutral party helps a group of people reach their goals together. It is distinguished from mediation in that it is often a more open process, includes individuals or groups who have specific perspectives or interests, and may involve reaching a specific goal or set of decisions. Usually, facilitation does not elicit the same emotionality as mediation. Facilitation is a tool to enable groups to discuss and plan more effectively together. Facilitators encourage principles of inclusion, shared understanding, full participation, and shared responsibility. This occurs in the context of meetings, focus groups or staff team-building sessions. As a facilitator, I help groups articulate their common issues, set agendas for decision-making and collaboratively develop appropriate responses.

An approach called Appreciative Inquiry focuses on what’s working—as opposed to what’s broken—in a group or organization. The idea is that we can put our limited energy and resources into moving toward our goal, not just away from what we don’t want. I utilize this approach to assist groups build strength where there has been weakness, to value and bring forward the positive experiences, skills and perspectives of all the group’s members.

I have been a member of the Albuquerque Land-Use Facilitation Program since 1998. Developers, planners, citizens, neighbors and other interested parties come together informally and address issues prior to regulatory hearings. These meetings are often successful in resolving issues in ways that are satisfactory to the people involved.

“As always, you and Angelica did a fantastic job! It is a pleasure to work with the two of you; you keep the discussion focused and efficient. That said, you also keep the meetings fun and I think that all the neighborhood representatives leave happy and feeling that they were heard.”            --Private planner, Albuquerque

My experience includes not only goal-directed facilitation for public or private groups, but also helping Boards redirect their energies through Strategic Planning and providing intervention to help workgroups get unstuck from unproductive patterns of internal conflict. These latter processes combine the listening and acknowledging parts of mediation with the group process of facilitation. Each situation is different and requires a thoroughly conscious approach to meet the needs of the participants.