Although Jim Rough and Associates, Inc. has been teaching public seminars
in Dynamic Facilitation Skills since 1990, it is still new. It's a
social invention that is just now beginning to take off! It's a way
that time-constrained managers, ordinary citizens in public meetings,
conflicted employees in team meetings, or students in a high school
can speak their minds and hearts in a meeting, without being specially
trained, and have it work out great. The facilitator structures the
dynamic flow of conversation so each comment becomes an asset to the
group and builds to a breakthrough. With Dynamic Facilitation skills
you empower people to solve impossible-to-solve issues because you
bring out a quality of thinking where people operate at their best.
The dynamic facilitator establishes a “zone” of thinking and talking
known as “choice-creating,” where shifts and breakthroughs are normal.
It is like when people face a collective challenge and pull together
to creatively overcome it. Sometimes these shifts take the form of
new ideas, other times they bring a new sense of what the “real problem”
is, and other times there is a change of heart.
Some Benefits of Dynamic Facilitation
• Meetings arrive at better solutions to problems, faster, with more
• Groups achieve breakthroughs on impossible-to-solve issues.
• People determine and resolve what's really on their minds.
• The process builds trust, respect, and the spirit of community.
• Everyone is engaged, enthused and committed to the results.
• People grow in personal creativity and capability.
How is it different?
Rather than seeking to manage change, the facilitator elicits,
sustains, and enhances the self-organizing dynamic of
change. He or she helps people to figure out what they
want and to get it themselves. The Dynamic Facilitator works more completely
with self-organizing change than the traditional facilitator.
The traditional facilitator elicits self-organizing change in the realm
of what people think, talk and decide about, but uses the methods
of control to manage how they think, talk and decide. For instance,
they are oriented to breaking big problems into smaller ones, following
an agenda or logical steps, and tracking progress toward predetermined
goals. It is an approach that minimizes what might go wrong.
The Dynamic Facilitator assures a self-organizing dynamic both in what
people talk about and how they talk. He or she follows group
energy as being more important than any preset agenda, expecting progress
to happen in "shifts" of insight, feeling and awareness. It leads to
a creative thinking process known as "choice-creating" instead
of "decision-making." This approach maximizes what might go right instead
of minimizing what might go wrong. (See a chart of Dynamic
Facilitation compared to Traditional Facilitation.)
How Dynamic Facilitation Works
The dynamic facilitator focuses on group energy more than the agenda,
helping people to determine an isse they care about deeply. Then he
or she helps people to speak their minds and hearts. Normally, this
causes problems because others can take offense, but the dynamic facilitator
assures that each comment is appreciated, using four lists: 1) Solutions,
2) Concerns, 3) Data, and 4) Problem-statements. The high-quality of
dialogue that results yields spontaneous conclusions, which are placed
on a fifth list: 5) DECISIONS.
When to apply Dynamic Facilitation?
Most meetings aim to help people be logical and reasonable. But this
emphasis limits the potential of people to solve problems and form community.
Better is to take on bigger issues, while helping people to think creatively
together. Dynamic Facilitation is appropriate for:
• Big-issue meetings — dealing
with difficult times, crises or "impossible" problems; strategic planning;
sparking a leap forward, visioning.
• Heart issues —resolving conflict, building
shared values, building community and teams.
• Dialogues —coachings, trainings, and personal
• Straightforward meetings —quality improvement
meetings, staff meetings, simple decisions, presentations, planning,
In your next meeting notice
- Do people say what they really think, or do they hold back?
- Is the group addressing the real issue efficiently, or caught
in a minor topic? or over-analyzing?
- Are people being creative and seeking win/win solutions, or trying
to persuade others?
- Do people leave the meeting with enthusiasm and commitment?
Dynamic Facilitation uses the appropriate Level
Four levels of thinking capability are shown in the chart below. Each
is associated with a particular model for how change happens. Often,
facilitators focus on one style of thinking and one model of change,
unknowingly limiting the capabilities of the group. The Dynamic Facilitator
starts from the highest level, helping people to address the most pressing
issue, but can downshift to the appropriate level if smaller issues
|Levels of Thinking
||Models of Change
||Reacting ... Here, the circumstances determine the situation.
There is no model of change, just avoiding pain and pursuing pleasure.
||Decision-making ... Here the idea is to establish options,
and then to choose the best according to preset standards.
||Problem-solving ... In this case one seeks to understand
the underlying causes to problems and to determine high leverage
solutions. This is systems thinking.
||Creative thinking ... Here one uses the unconscious,
creative mind to envision a desired future and to bring this future
into being. Brainstorming and appreciative inquiry are examples.
... This is where important, big issues are addressed creatively,
with open minds and hearts. Win/win breakthroughs are the natural
result as well as increased trust and the spirit of community.
The Dynamic Facilitator will often list possible
solutions, concerns, data, and problem-statements as a way to
value all people and all comments.