News & Musings

Adventures of a Facilitator

Posted on Mar 10 2015

After a recent community meeting an individual approached me and said, “I was saying to my wife, if this process works pigs will fly. Given the success, it seems you can make pigs fly”.  We enjoyed a good laugh.

This month I celebrate 25 years working as a consultant. Over the years there have been lots of laughs and learning. My facilitation practice has shifted from facilitating partnerships to more about process planning. Yet some of the fundamental group dynamics remain the same.  I was struck by this in reading Chris Hadfield’s book, You are Here. It has many funny anecdotes. For example, did you know that the Northwest tract of the Great Sandy Desert in Australia, has an estimated 100,000 feral camels. Clients often talk about the challenge of herding cats as they work to get their team focused on common goals and objectives. Imagine trying to get 100,000 feral camels headed in the right direction.

Setting your strategic direction initiates the journey, but the real test comes in implementation. This is where the rubber hits the road…or where, like so many of us, we get side tracked by the day-to-day whirlwind. Identifying accurate measures of success to gauge progress towards results is important, but equally so are the small day to day actions that move the team towards their goals and the subtle behavioral changes that ensure success.

Behavioral changes are all about having difficult conversations about our roles.  This is not the formal job description, but how we are active participants in the historical structures, policies, patterns, and limiting beliefs that say “no” to what is emerging. Having the difficult conversation in a respectful way about the contradiction that exists can unlock oscillating behavior and open a door to the future. It is in these moments that as facilitators, we witness pigs flying, camels and cats moving in the same direction.

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