“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is success.” – Henry Ford
Facilitation can play an important role in ensuring a well-run meeting or engagement process. Useful facilitation skills include planning agendas, creating the appropriate group environment, encouraging participation, and leading the group to reach its objectives. Of course facilitation can also be used at the organisation, project or community level. Good articles if you are new to facilitation include: Facilitation 101 by Ned Ruete, and another Facilitation tip sheet from CDC. The following sites provide guidance to a range of tools and techniques to engage people and mobilize evidence in complex settings involving multiple stakeholders.
Facilitator tool kit. This University of Wisconsin facilitator tool kit is a comprehensive, easy-to-use guide to tools, methods and techniques for assisting groups with planning and improvement projects and interactive meetings. And another Facilitator’s tool kit here.
DIY toolkit. The Development Impact and You toolkit has been specially designed for practitioners to dive straight into action. The tools presented here are well established and tested, and grounded in existing theories and practices of innovation, design, and business development. Another section offers a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the main pillars underlying the theory and management of social innovation and for each of these topics there are references for further reading.
Participatory action research: Guide for facilitators This guide has been written by Robert Nurick and Marina Apgar as a resource document for the training and capacity building of facilitators who conduct participatory action research (PAR) in the CGIAR Research Program on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS). This guide provides a road map for facilitators to support them in delivering a rigorous PAR process, providing them with guidance for effective facilitation that allows for critical reflection throughout the engagement process. The material in the guide is also relevant to other groups wishing to take a PAR approach to research and community development.
The Barefoot Guide – tools and exercises. A range of tools and exercises all set out in a page or two and downloadable. Collectively these cover a range of situations that facilitators and others may wish to help their group or community to collectively explore. These exercises are well set out, and help groups work with quite complex issues from addressing power to creating a learning environment. You can also access a growing library of case studies, tools, readings, handouts, diagrams etc. on the website.
Participatory Action Research: Theory and Methods for Engaged Inquiry. This book by Jacques Chevalier and Daniel Buckles comprises a collection of tools and processes, that can be mixed to cover many situations. Good instructions are provided on how to use the tools illustrated. The authors design the book to provide a flexible guide that is accessible to both beginning and experienced facilitators alike.
The Systems Grantmaking Resource Guide will help you unpack a systems approach so you can apply it to your work and, in doing so, break through obstacles, craft new habits and change your processes to successfully transform systems. This guide provides a selection of the most used and relevant systems assessment tools, frameworks, and processes for grantmakers and the social sector. This includes tools such as: stakeholder mapping, the iceberg, causal loop mapping, systems archetypes, mental modeling, shared visioning, identifying leverage points and designing a systemic theory of change.It includes guidance on how and when to use these tools as well as examples of how they have been applied in the field
Video conferencing Holding meetings online can be cost-effective, and is becoming more commonplace. Now, anyone with a broadband Internet connection and a browser can log onto the Internet and take part in or host a web conference, a web and video conference or a webinar. MegaMeeting offers a range of video conferencing services suited to individuals through to a full branded service for large organisations.
Online Community Toolkit Thinking about building or hosting an online community? Looking for specific tips, tools and ideas? Start here with this toolkit developed and maintained by Nancy White. This resource covers facilitation techniques, on-line tools, courses and case studies.
A collection of resources to help you learn more about online collaboration A useful list of resources from facilitate.com
Other tips and guides
Cleaning Digital Photos of Drawings One of the big hits from the IFVP 2006 Conference was the Tech Session. There was quite a buzz about the Photoshop demonstration on “cleaning” photos of graphic recording artwork. The instructions are posted here from the Center for Graphic Facilitation site.
Hacking Knowledge: 77 Ways to Learn Faster, Deeper, and Better Life-changing knowledge does typically require advanced learning techniques. In fact, it’s been said that the average adult only uses 10% of his/her brain. Imagine what we may be capable of with more advanced learning techniques. Here are 77 tips related to knowledge and learning to help you on your quest. A few are specifically for students in traditional learning institutions; the rest for self-starters, or those learning on their own. Happy learning.
IIFAC The facilitation page of the International Institute for Facilitation and Change. Includes Bonfire – a free monthly electronic publication providing facilitation news, tips and thoughts.
International Association of Facilitators’ resource pages They provide useful services and links to facilitation-related tools and resources.
Closing ideas. A few ideas from University of Vermont for the end of the workshop or group session. Remember, learners tend to remember primacy (what happens first), recency (what happens last), and the unusual.
The tools here can be used in different ways. They can be used in many aspects of participatory action research, they will help those interested in developing new systems perspectives, and many other forms of collaboration, participation and engagement.