What is facilitation?

Facilitation is a process for groups of people who need to have dialogue about topics or issues that are of high priority to them. There does not have to be a conflict involved, but there are usually different points of view that emerge which are then clarified. Or there may be hard, complicated or difficult matters to discuss, or critical decisions to be made. Facilitation provides the opportunity for all to speak, for all to hear others speak, and to better understand new concepts, barriers, and commonalities of the group.

When is facilitation used?

The client or group shape the goals ahead of time by working with the facilitator in pre-facilitation interviews to shape the agenda for the day of facilitation. There are many situations where facilitation is particularly useful:

  • Departmental meetings to set priorities
  • Board meetings to discuss policy or decide issues with operational impact
  • Community consensus building
  • Difficult group interactions that need to be overcome to work together effectively
  • Family or business decision-making
  • Strategic visioning
  • Team building
  • Retreats that energize
  • Retreats for personal development
  • Retreats for future planning & implementation

What is the role of a facilitator?

A facilitator is a third party “presence” who is trained to manage conversation and listen in a way that captures ideas the group brings forward, identifies areas of disagreement and makes it safe to explore them, and who keeps the group on track and focused. She also assists the group in identifying areas of commonalities as well as differences, highlighting ideas that may go unnoticed in a very active dialogue, and generally helps to create an atmosphere and context in which every “voice” is respected and all are encouraged to contribute. These ideas are often captured in writing in a summary for future reference and implementation.

What are the benefits of facilitation?

Clarity, open dialogue, creative thinking, teambuilding, and consensus building are only a few of the advantages of facilitation. By having a facilitator present during organizational meetings, managers or directors can participate in the group voice and discussion in contrast to the role of leading the meeting. This is generally very empowering for the group as whole and can lead to dynamic creative thinking, quality dialogue and greater cohesion within the group.

How long are facilitated meetings or retreats?

As with other BMFT services, we will work with you to determine your needs and what you would like as an outcome, and then design a facilitation with your goals and the group size in mind. We have facilitations that last two hours and others that are two-day retreats. For shorter facilitations, BMFT charges an hourly rate. For longer sessions of half-day or full days, there is a flat fee including a fee for design, consultation and expenses.

Is there any follow up after the facilitation?

We will include in the design any follow up you think would be helpful. Often, this is in the form of a written Summary, which captures the group’s ideas and decisions for future reflection and implementation. Our clients often value the Summary we provide as a way to establish continuity after the facilitation, a basis for future meetings, or to establish a benchmark.

How do we start the process?

We are often asked to facilitate by Chairs of Departments within an organization for a critical planning meeting; or by Presidents of a Boards of Directors for establishing important goals for their organizations, or by Human Resource and Other Managers for staff retreats when building a sense of team and setting priorities or working through barriers and re-energizing is the goal.

A BMFT facilitator works with you to design a facilitation experience that will meet the specific goals your group or organization is looking for, to produce the results you would like to achieve, and designed to fit the size of the group, big or small.