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
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
--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.