Some key learnings as a workshop facilitator
Over the past 10 years I have designed and facilitated numerous ideation, brainstorming, strategy and planning sessions.
In all but one occasion* I added significant value.
But someone asked me the other day why and when should I use an external facilitator?
This is a great question.
Based on my experience here are the pros and cons.
The pros of using an external workshop facilitator
– The facilitator can challenge the thinking of the group
– Keep the group focused on achieving the objective of the session or day.
– Allows the leader to be part of the group.
– Can stop the extroverted people (for example) from dominating the discussion.
– Ensures that everyone contributes.
– Can ask tough questions and enter difficult political areas.
– Often the session is more thought-through and planned in advance.
– A good facilitator will have a breath of perspective and a bag of effective tools.
– It often has symbolic value because the leader has commissioned an external facilitator — this is important is the key message.
The cons of using an external workshop facilitator
– It is expensive
– A poor facilitator can dominate proceedings
– One size fits all problem with some facilitators (i.e rather than customising the session around the goals).
– It may mean that people are less likely to embrace change if it is forced upon them?
I am biased of course but if you have a difficult problem or the group feels stuck then using an external workshop facilitator that you trust can be a powerful investment.
* In this session I did not tell the group where I was headed and why hence the engagement was not what it should have been.