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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

Meeting Facilitation

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    Meetings with large groups of people (especially consensus-building meetings) often work better if they are facilitated (that is, run) by someone who does not hold a stake in the outcome of the discussions.  This facilitator can design and run a process that encourages people to work effectively together on the agenda.  A facilitator will help the group get to know each other (through "ice-breaking" exercises), will work with them to set an agenda and ground rules, and then will direct and focus the discussion so that the agenda is accomplished.  Facilitators usually will  take care to include all participants in the discussion (even ones who might otherwise remain silent), and try to get the group to develop consensus on as many issues as possible. In the U.S., this is often done using big pads of newsprint and colored markers.  The facilitator (or an assisting "recorder") will write down the highlights of each new point on newsprint and will tape full sheets up to the wall all around the room.  This creates a shared, visual record of the meeting, which can then often be condensed into areas of agreement. More details about how facilitation is done can be found in the following excellent essays.  

 

Links to More Information about Facilitation

Susan L. Carpenter and W.J.D. Kennedy--Guidelines for Making the Program Work
This essay contains a number of important tasks of meeting facilitators.
 
Jay Rothman--Resolving Identity-Based Conflict: In Nations, Organizations, and Communities
This summary contains a description of the role of facilitators in analytical problem solving workshops.

Links to Outside Sources of Information about Facilitation

Innovations in Public Involvement for Transportation Planning- Facilitation
This is an excellent and detailed essay, but it may be hard to find.  Click on the link above, and you may get a message asking you to enter a password.  When you click on "cancel" however, since you don't have a password, the document seems to appear anyway.  However, you need to scroll down a considerable way until you get to the section on facilitation.  Stick with it though--it is worth reading!
Graphic Facilitation Focuses a Group's Thoughts by Geoff Ball
This is another excellent article written by one of the leading facilitators in the U.S.

Links to Related Approaches

Meeting Design

Consensus Rule Processes

Ground Rules

Links to Related Problems

Procedural Problems

Poor Process or Structure


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Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu