How we work

The most important skill for a facilitator is to be flexible and respond to what happens, moment-by-moment, in the room. It's easy to get attached to techniques and talk about "trusting the process" - but we think it's vital to retain spontaneity and aliveness.

Participants have been to a lot of meetings and are rightly wary of being "techniqued". They need to see that the facilitator is awake to what's happening, and not just leading them to some pre-planned solution.

These are some of the ideas that guide our work. You can also get our free books - Creative Facilitation and Nothing is Written.

Accepting Offers is about seeing opportunities in what others say and do, rather than being defensive and blocking them. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, but you can look for ways to acknowledge and build on what they bring. When dealing with complex and controversial topics, it helps to be able to include diverse perspectives and approaches – if you try to exclude them they’ll often come back to bite you.

Noticing More: When groups of people get stuck, it’s easy to lose perspective and close down, missing a lot of what’s going on. Anxiety tends to reduce our ability to see choices. By noticing more, we open ourselves up to new ways of responding. It counters the fight-or-flee instinct that can reduce our effectiveness under stress.

We sometimes say "Let go… of something". What that something is will vary. It might be our attachment to being right; it might be the way we've always done things. It's a reminder that it’s easy to become rigid when flexibility is more useful



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The idea of relax your clever comes from a friend of ours. It’s too easy to think we can manage complex people and situations by knowing better than other people. Expertise is fine, but if it stops us from spotting what is new by focussing only on what is familiar, it gets in everyone’s way.

Be affected Let what others do and say sink in and let it change you. People will notice and they’ll understand that we have actually heard them. When we don’t acknowledge what others say, we invite trouble.

Making your partner look good is not about empty flattery, but realising that the quality of your relationship will have more impact on others than the mere words you use. If you want playful collaboration, try to be an example of it.

Sometimes when you’re trying something new, it’s easy to hedge your bets and be tentative. That’s great up to a point, but groups will often respond cautiously if you don’t commit yourself. By committing, you don’t pretend to be infallible, but you do show that you really want to engage. 

And when we say move, we’re being deliberately ambiguous. We might mean move yourself, we might mean ask others to move. And we might mean physical movement, or emotional. It’s easy to get stuck in a particular way of relating to people as if it’s the obvious or only way to do it. It isn’t.