The Value of Good Facilitation

Many working groups leverage external facilitators to help move efforts forward. The use of external facilitation can be an important accelerator, helping facilitate a variety of activities, from brainstorming to achieving consensus around various concepts. Ideally the facilitators, whether it's one or multiple individuals, possess an appropriate level of depth in the subject matter, good change management skills, and a good understanding of the organization, its culture, and political environment.

The facilitation role, when performed by a truly experienced individual, represents a powerful support mechanism for moving efforts forward. Unfortunately, many organizations and working group leaders underestimate the value of highly experienced facilitators; instead viewing the role as more of an administrative one. In fact many public sector organizations acquire facilitation expertise through the same administrative contracts and organizations that provide other services such as event planning and recording meeting minutes. The use of less experienced facilitators represents at a minimum a missed opportunity. In worse cases, they may actually inhibit progress by facilitating the wrong things - trying to reach complete consensus, failing to time box activities, or attempting to define perfect solutions for example.

Some of the best facilitators really don't describe themselves by that title; instead they see themselves simply as subject matter experts, consultants, or in some cases, professional coaches. Regardless of title or source, the ability to find and leverage a high quality, experienced individual in a facilitation role can be a significant accelerator for those using working groups to address issues or opportunities.