Group Process Facilitation and Translation

Butterfield Canyon, finding path, walking together, Utah, Oquirrh

For many of us whose group process facilitation approach is participative, there is a certain amount of translation that each of us does. It is the “what” and “why” of design and agendas.

For me it starts with basic statements of purpose. E.g., “People come for learning. So as to be good at what they do. This is a learning gathering.” Or in using images like that above from nearby Butterfield Canyon (thx for weekend hike Dana) to invoke path and discovery.

Many groups yearn for potent learning together. The planners of meetings yearn for it. And they have the hunch that something rich is available beyond the traditional didactic means.

For me, I’m often guiding Circle, World Cafe, and Open Space Technology as methodologies. Each of these are now more widely used than they were 30 years ago.

Yet, there is newness. Planners are trying to invite from the heart with language and translation that their participants from more traditional formats will be able to recognize.

Here’s one level of that translation that I’m crafting with colleagues for an upcoming “Empowering Practice” 2-day event for medical practitioners.

We are excited to employ many learning formats at CEP. Some will feel familiar. Some might feel new. And are likely to feel uniquely empowering because they deliberately draw out the wisdom and inspiration of people in the room to guide next steps.
Open Space Technology (OST) is a large group format for self-directed learning. We’ll do it Saturday at CEP. It’s your learning, your way. Yet with deliberate group integration. Rather than creating agenda in advance, we create it real time, based on the immediate learning needs and passions of participants present in the room. People then select the topic groups of learning they wish to lead or join. The whole group meets back together to share insight, discoveries, and next learning topics.
The World Cafe (WC) is also a large group format to amplify the power of small groups in focussed conversation. We’ll do it Friday at CEP. Rather than lecture format, this learning is tables of 4-5 people exploring questions that matter for 20-25 minutes. Then moving to other tables — exploring patterns of relevance. The outcome is insights. The outcome is new questions. The outcome is strengthened camaraderie for empowered practice.

Our work is so often creating the bridge. Giving it structure. And purpose. Sticking with simplicity. And then trusting and welcoming the hearts and minds of people in the room to come alive together.

Finding path. Changing path. Welcoming it to change us.

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