Facilitation: the art of enabling a group of people to achieve a common goal. IAF England Wales brings you a show by facilitators, for facilitators and anyone interested in using facilitation for change. We'll share guest stories, experiences and methods. Plus, we'll bring you up to date on what's happening at our Meetups.
FS34 Facilitation Worldwide with Vinay Kumar
In today’s episode, Pilar and Helene both join a conversation with Vinay Kumar. Vinay is Chair of IAF Global, based in Bangalore, India. He is a Certified Professional Facilitator, Coach, Organisational Development Consultant, Founder of C2C and host of podcast “Shiny Happy People”.
They start by discussing how in 2006 Vinay began calling himself a Facilitator and became interested in the IAF. They talk about what changed in his practice as a result of starting to call himself a Facilitator. He explains how he began to learn and design more for the human dynamics of facilitation, creating a safe environment and then using methods that enable equity for everyone to participate. He also believes he became a better observer.
They then explore the impact of hierarchy and what Vinay puts in place to allow everyone to be involved. Vinay talks about how he adapts the tools to the context, for example being very explicit that senior stakeholders speak last in brainstorming and reinforcing this through actions. They talk about the role of the expert. Vinay notes that there are 3 kinds of expert in a facilitation: process, content and context and that when working with clients he explains that he is the process and context expert.
They then move on to explore how, as a “global nomad”, Vinay adapts his approach according to cultural nuances. He notes that from a human dynamic perspective, there are lots of similarities, even if certain adjustments are needed. In the case of hierarchy this can be stronger in some places than others but it’s rarely intentionally negative. Vinay also shares a story which reminded him that humour doesn’t always translate.
Helene asks Vinay what he feels Facilitators working globally need to have front of mind. Vinay advises never to portray oneself as a cultural expert in any culture and going into each environment from a space of learning, directly asking for feedback from the group on any cultural mistakes.
Vinay explains that he’s often the only English-speaking person in a room and how he finds himself more at ease asking participants to write post-its in any language they’re comfortable with, meaning that he can’t understand what they’ve written and doesn’t get pulled into being the content expert and is purely the process expert. Pilar then shares a similar experience working in Spain.
The conversation moves to talking about the Facilitator community in India. Vinay says there’s an increasing understanding of what pure facilitation is, which he believes is behind the IAF India chapter being the largest in Asia, and growing. He observes there’s a huge learning mindset, increase in CPFs and an increased client understanding of the difference between process and content experts but that the market is still maturing and Facilitators are still educating the market.
Next, they talk about how, given the size and spread of the IAF community in India, they can all connect. There is a single chapter but with City Hubs, smaller communities of 30-40 people, supported with 2 WhatsApp groups. The active community meets through a blend of national and local events and meetups which continued almost weekly online throughout 2020.
Pilar asks Vinay if he’s observed other areas of the world where an interest in Facilitation is really growing. Vinay feels that it’s happening everywhere including new chapters and special interest groups. The pandemic has meant that people have wanted community connections and broken up the concept of country chapters meaning that the “international” in IAF has never been truer.
Vinay then talks about his love of being part of the IAF and its Board. He highlights the giving nature of the community and its international nature meaning that he can connect with people wherever he is working in the world.
FS33 Changes to our Meetup Groups
This is a short, bonus episode to let you know about how we've changed the organisation of our Meetups over at Meetup.com. See below for more details.
Join us here: https://www.meetup.com/IAF-facilitators-and-friends/
Next set of meetups:
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Midlands facilitators monthly online coffee meet-up
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
South West facilitators monthly coffee meetup
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
UK & Ireland facilitators virtual coffee meetup
Friday, June 25, 2021
Ireland facilitators networking & learning meetup (from our friend group Ireland Facilitators and Friends) https://www.meetup.com/IAF-Ireland-facilitators-and-friends/events/278401212/
We are glad to be able to share with you a change that will make finding and attending the various Meetups much simpler.
What’s happening? All Meetups will be merging into the 'London and SE' Meetup group. The 'London and SE' group will be renamed 'IAF England and Wales' to reflect the broader reach.
The transition will start with renaming the group early in May and be complete by the end of May.
Why it’s happening Since Meetups went virtual only, many new connections have been made meaning that geography has been less important. We have also listened to feedback about how attendees actually find which Meetups they want to attend.
So whether you are visiting somewhere for the day, or want to share interests at a virtual gathering, everything will now be under one roof.
How it will affect them This move will put all Meetups in one place meaning that finding a group to attend will be easier than ever, and with fewer notifications and groups to manage. We could all do with a little less admin!
Do get in touch with us, our email address is email@example.com or you can find us on twitter @fac_stories
FS32 Back to Facilitating Face to Face
In today’s episode, host Helene Jewell talks about returning back to face-to-face facilitation after a year spent moving facilitation online due to the pandemic.
Helene first talks to Camilla Gordon, freelance facilitator, trainer and consultant, and a winner of an IAF Facilitation Impact Award, about her experiences about face-to-face facilitation in the past year.
Camilla talks openly about her need to be with clients face to face, as she wasn’t built for an office job, or to be stuck behind her desk. She also talks about how ensuring people keep distanced in sessions goes against everything she believes in as a facilitator who is bringing people together.
During their conversation Camilla talks about the practical steps that she took to ensure that the space was covid-secure. That included having the right materials for each person, as well as ensuring that the workshop was delivered in the most appropriate space. She also talks about the need to design the process around people who are distancing, for example you need to redesign your usual activities when you can’t have people huddled round a table writing things all together, but you still need to achieve a feeling of collaboration. Ideas that Camilla shares include having a line 2m from the flipcharts, so that whoever stepped into the area had a safe space to speak. Doing pair work seated to ensure the physical barrier helps to maintain the necessary distance. Taking people outside for group work.
When it comes to responsibility Camilla talks about how this is shared between herself and the client. Her role was to ensure that she sets out the minimum expectations, and how she will direct the group to ensure they follow the rules. Whilst the client is responsible for ensuring that the group are comfortable coming back together in the room, and that they understand the need to follow Camilla’s direction whilst in the space. Camilla also makes sure that the group know that if they have concerns that they should bring them to her, and she will then make the necessary adjustments.
Helene reflects that this is an extension of the usual role of the facilitator of making sure that you are keeping an eye out that everyone is psychologically safe and that they’re able to participate equally in the process.
Helene asks Camilla what she has learnt, what she is bringing back from virtual facilitation to face-to-face and the advice that she would give other facilitators. Here's a summary of all those tips
Trust your gut – know what you are and aren’t comfortable with, and if you’re uncomfortable then say no Be prepared – both physically (as you are going to be exhausted) as well as with your process. Wear your trainers and take plenty of chocolate. Have more frequent and longer breaks for both you and your group. Think about different learning styles and make sure you’re accessible and inclusive. Reach out to other facilitators for their advice – there is a great community of IAF Facilitators & Friends that you can speak to. Be playful – by moving sessions online Camilla reminded herself that as long as she is having fun with a creative exercise, her groups will have fun with it too. And she’s bringing that back with her to face-to-face sessions. Make sure you’re ok with it before you go to your clients with a plan
Camilla has written a blog about her experiences, which you can read on her website: https://www.camillagordon.co.uk/blog/10-top-tips-for-post-lockdown-facilitation and you can connect with Camilla on Twitter
Next, we have an audio clip from Barb Pederson, a Certified Professional Facilitator from Canada, where she shares some of her experiences from the last year, along with her top tips.
Barb speaks about her experiences in November 2020 of facilitating a mixture of face-to-face and hybrid events. In preparation for the ev
FS31 Clean Language & Metaphor
FS31 Clean Language and Metaphor
In today’s episode, host Nikki Wilson takes a deep dive into clean language and metaphor, and talks to three guests about their uses of them in their facilitation practice.
First Nikki talks to Judy Rees about how she discovered clean language and metaphor and how they feature in her work today.
Judy started exploring the use of metaphor as a child, when her father was studying its use in education. Following reading the book “Metaphors We Live By” by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson as a teenager she then talks of her further exploration on metaphor and clean language during her career as a journalist.
Judy talks of her experience of using clean language as a key part of her engagement with freelance facilitation clients. Using a combination of clean language and metaphor allows her clients to express their needs for their requirements, which in turn allows Judy to understand whether she is the right person for them. She also talks about how she uses clean principles in her training of facilitators to use clean language with groups and teams.
Judy also shares examples of how clean language can help to tease out the distinctions between things that seem quite similar on the surface, but have subtle distinctions, and how this is valuable in avoiding misunderstanding that can be very, very costly.
For facilitators looking to extend their knowledge of clean language for use with groups, Judy recommends reading “From Contempt to Curiosity” by Caitlin Walker. Those looking for more 1-2-1 applications can read “Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds” by Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees.
Judy ends by speaking about she is current exploring how to not just get people excited by clean language and metaphor, but how to get those people to effectively transmit that enthusiasm, joy and excitement to other people as well.
You can get in touch with Judy here:
Nikki gives a quick reminder of the IAF England & Wales regular meetups which in April 2021 are still happening online. You can find out more on the website: https://www.iaf-world.org/site/chapters/england-wales
Nikki then goes on to speak to Robert Taylor and Kevin Watson who ran “The Magic of Metaphor” session at the IAF England & Wales conference in October 2020.
When asked about where the magic comes from when they use metaphor, Kevin describes how the magic in their sessions is all about the relationship that the participant has with the metaphor, and how it helps people to accelerate their ability to see something they have not seen before. Also magical is people’s imagination and creativity and how that never ceases to amaze him.
Kevin and Rob talk about their experiences of using metaphor in both facilitation and coaching sessions. They talk about the use of physical objects in sessions to explore metaphor, and how it is important that it's something that is outside of themselves and seemingly unrelated to the topic on their minds. They go on to explain that it is important to have elements which the participant can touch and interact with as part of the exercise to get a different perspective.
They talk about the importance of the facilitator in letting go of the worries about how people will react to using metaphor in a session. The important thing is that you as the facilitator work with what people present to you, as that will be the right thing for them at that time. Both Kevin & Rob go on to talk about the need to trust the participant, that they will come up with something that you can work with, and that they will have the things they need to figure it out.
Rob & Kevin end by ta
FS30 The IAF's CPF Certification Process and How It Has Been Adapted Online
In today's episode, Helene Jewell talks to Lindsay Sumner and Simon Wilson about the IAF's Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) assessment process and how it has moved online.
Lindsay Sumner (CPF M) is the IAF Director of Certification Operations. She shares with Helene her own certification process, which was a testing one! The process continues to test facilitators skills and processes. There is writing, interviewing and observation involved.
CPF is an in-depth peer review of their facilitation knowledge, experience, skills and practice. It's a multi-staged process which takes about three months. The IAF's philosophy is "test to pass", that is, that everyone is given a fair opportunity to show their skills.
Stage 1 involves reviewing the documentation. If there is not enough evidence yet, they won't be invited to Stage 2.
What about becoming a CPF Master?
Once you are a CPF, you can re-certify by writing about your practice over the last four years, to show that you are still facilitating, and learning and growing within the profession. You need to demonstrate that you are sharing, teaching and mentoring around the profession. What are you giving back etc.
The challenge with moving the certification process online was how to keep it in line with the in-person version, while changing the format. For example, splitting the process up so that it didn't run over a day.
Another challenge was whether the IAF competencies would also be as visible. The certification team workshopped the competencies by running workshops online and noticing whether different competencies were required. Throughout the process they found that the same set of competencies are visible (and required) as online. (More on this later when Helene talks to Simon.)
Another thing to take into account when facilitating online is the technology, but the technical competence is not assessed. However, you need to be competent at a technical level, or else it's difficult be confident, and focus on the facilitation practice. Lindsay talks about the set of protocols they have designed around the technical side, to free up candidates to focus on the facilitation.
Are there benefits to doing the certification process online? It means the process can be more accessible, but there are still people struggling with technology. For now, online assessments will will be running once a month.
Lindsay talks about the endorsed facilitator programme - an online exam and a written paper. Keep your eyes open for that one!
They're also looking to widen the pool of assessors, especially to be able to offer the programme in other languages (could that be you, listener?). The assessment is currently offered in English and Mandarin and has been taken through simultaneous translation. The online space is offering a lot of possibilities!
You can email Lindsay: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Our second guest (and returning guest to the show!) is Simon Wilson, a CPF and current CPF assessor (since 2013), who talks about the assessment process in more depth.
Simon explains the assessment process: 4 assessors + a technical process manager. 1 assessor plays the role of the client, one as a participant and two observers.
When Simon was the guinea pig in the first online assessment, playing the part of the faciliator, the others were able to identify the IAF competencies.
The barriers of doing the session online are similar to those we might come across if we have to travel to an unfamiliar room. In the online environment it's more difficult to assess how someone interacts directly with a group by for example, reading their body language. On the other hand, it's easier to pay attention to how they set up a task.
The groups' activity also becomes more clear. From the a
FS29 Planning, Working and Leading Adventures Together
This episode features three initiatives from members of the IAF England and Wales Chapter.
First, Nikki speaks to Mike Clargo about “Leading by Adventure”, a series of weekly adventures of around 15 minutes each, to offer people a different perspective. They talk about where the idea came from, and how Mike was struck with the thought that we need something to support us to engage with change as a game, having fun, while building skills for the future.
Mike tells Nikki about some of the adventures so far, and what’s to come, revealing that having generated ideas from his network, he has two and a half years of weekly adventures ready to share!
Mike explains how to find out more and get involved, simply by signing up at leadingbyadventure.com to begin receiving a weekly inbox adventure and to see the adventures that have already taken place.
Next, Pilar reminds us about the range of meetups run by the IAF England and Wales Chapter, all currently online and open to Facilitators and Friends wherever you are. All of the details are on the England and Wales page of the IAF website.
Then , Pilar moves on to talk to Productivity Coach Emma Cragg about the monthly Zoom-based planning sessions she’s been running. The 90 minute sessions on the last Friday of the month are designed to give people a space to plan for the month ahead.
Emma tells Pilar that the idea emerged from a need she had, and the value she’s found in the sessions. They move on to talk about Emma’s wider coaching work, writing and focus on reflective routines. Emma describes some of her own daily practices and Pilar shares a little of what she’s also begun to do in terms of journaling and reflective routines.
They finish the session looking back to Episode 3 when Emma first appeared on Facilitation Stories having only recently discovered the IAF England Wales Chapter at the conference in 2019. She shares details of her newsletter “Gathered Thoughts” and her blog, more details of which are available on her website ekcragg.co.uk
In the final section, Pilar talks to England and Wales Chapter Board Member, Nicola Morris about a “Get it Done” day she hosted on Zoom at the end of 2020. This was a day where a group of facilitators came together, sharing what they wanted to achieve over the day and having regular check-ins to support and encourage each other with questions.
The day offered both some social chat and accountability to help people to get things done and reduce the opportunity to get distracted. They found it helped them to make progress and break isolation and Nicola thinks it is likely there will be more in the future, details of which will be shared through the IAF Slack Channel and at meetups.
Mike Clargo – Leading by Adventure
Weekly Planning Sessions on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/monthly-planning-sessions-tickets-137251820891?aff=
Get in touch:
Twitter: @IAFEnglandWales; use #iafpodcast and today’s hosts @PilarOrti @NiksClicks
E-mail: email@example.com - Send us some text, or even an mp3 audio! Find out more about us over at the https://www.iaf-world.org/site/chapters/england-wales
IAF Global Slack https://join.slack.com/t/iaffacilitatorfriends/shared_invite/enQtODY4NDM0NDM4ODY4LTA0N2FlNWU4M2Y4NWZmZjM4OWRhZmM2N2Y2ZThmNmZjMjI4MzY2OWQ3ZjRiYzllZTYzNzY0MDllZTRiZGUxNzk
A really good insight in to the lived in experience of being a facilitator. The hosts (Pilar and Helen) interview a wide range of facilitators to get their thoughts and insights in to a growing field that covers teams, people dynamics, technology and psychology. I love hearing the different voices on facilitation topics. And highly recommend giving this a listen if you are at all curious about the subject.