What is the role of a facilitator (and of a moderator, MC, chair etc.)?


(Reblogged from my ‘agile facilitation’ blog as I’m going to touch upon a few more facilitation-related topics over the next few weeks).

I briefly touched upon this topic on the ‘about’ page to this blog. But not quite seriously enough. And as I gave training on group facilitation skills last week, this question came up …

Source: What is the role of a facilitator (and of a moderator, MC, chair etc.)?

Don’t run without your facilitator(s), unless you like backfire effects


If you ever work with a facilitator, please work with them from the start…

agilefacil

You have been thinking about this event, you know what you want to do with it and why, you have been convinced – and it’s a good thing – that you need a facilitator to help you with your event.

Dare to rely on your facilitator for collective success (Credits: G. Salokhe) Dare to rely on your facilitator for collective success (Credits: G. Salokhe)

It sounds all good, and on paper you are all set for success… unless you follow any of the following traps, which could irremediably turn your event into a Murphy’s Law festival.

You have developed a precise agenda

This might be your first problem: as you couldn’t wait for the event to take shape and give you a concrete ‘feel’, you have drafted an agenda, day by day and to the minute. The problem with this is two-fold:

  1. You may not have thought carefully enough about the topics and objectives that should absolutely precede the (participation formats and)…

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10 advices to dramatically improve your un-facilitated meetings…


Latest post… on my other blog on ‘agile facilitation’. I should have written this a lot earlier, it would have helped many people I know. Better late than never though…

agilefacil

Shooting towards ten commandments (Credits: ideacreamanuela / FlickR) Shooting towards ten commandments of unfacilitated meetings? (Credits: ideacreamanuela / FlickR)

In my experience as meeting-goer (and I have to admit I attend meetings way less than I facilitate them), it seems a number of standard mistakes happen by default. These mistakes really cripple any attempt to turn the meetings into useful gatherings and meshings of ideas, people and energies.

These mistakes tend to appear particularly in meetings where there is no facilitator involved. Yet it’s clear that not every meeting can be facilitated (for lack of time, money, thought about it etc.).

So here are 10 advices that can help anyone running an un-facilitated meeting to hit the mark more surely – and for clarity by meeting I mean gatherings of 2 hours or more:

  1. Work with a team, from the design phase. Even if you don’t involve a facilitator, you will need to make sure you have people that help you…

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Internalising facilitation in everyday life, in Africa and globally – an interview with Ed Rege (PICO Eastern Africa)


Because facilitation is one of the most important skills any knowledge management specialist/team should learn…

agilefacil

Ed Rege (Credits: unknown) Ed Rege (Credits: unknown)

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Ed Rege (of PICO-Eastern Africa), an organizational development expert and a well-known facilitator in Africa and worldwide, and a former trainee of Sam Kaner. Ed also happens to be an ex ILRI-staff and not just any staff but a geneticist who rose to become the  leader of ILRI’s global Biotechnology Program. His story about using facilitation is fascinating and his plans are big. Here below is the interview…

What is your understanding of what facilitation does, or is helpful for:

The biggest challenge facing institutions these days is the inability for people to speak with each other constructively, meaningfully and productively. And yet stakeholder engagements are increasingly seen as a critical tool for working together, strategizing and problem-solving. This is complicated by the fact the globalizing world means increased multicultural stakeholder mixes which raise issues about…

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2016 in perspective, 2015 in review


Hello all,

Happy New Year
I wish you all a very happy, healthy, successful, wonderful 2016!

Last year has seen a relative decline in my blogging production. I have been less consistent, I haven’t been as inspired as the previous years. It could be the fact that the I have written about various aspects of the KM field and am finding it more difficult to come up with different types of topics. It could be that I have been even busier than the previous years. It could be that I’m getting tired of blogging. It could be all of that and more.

At any rate in 2016 I anticipate I will be again slightly less systematic in my blogging practice and I will cut myself some slack to find new sources of inspiration.

Meanwhile, for all of you who have been following and supporting this blog throughout the years, I would like to thank you very warmly for this, and hope you continue to blog and follow other blogs this year, as it’s what drives this world to create more connections, develop better thinking, stimulate inspiration, inspire cooperation and what perhaps justifies our existence on earth to connect, love and move forward together, in whatever ways.

Finally, hereby find the top 10 posts of 2015, as well as the ‘year in review’ on Agile KM for me and you provided by WordPress.

Keep on engaging, learning, sharing, reflecting, giving, and hopefully we’ll have even more exciting conversations in 2016!

Happy new year!

Top 10 posts in 2015 (in bold the posts written in 2015)

  1. Managing or facilitating change, not just a question of words
  2. Share Fair Addis: Fishbowl and fishbowl battle
  3. Knowledge management strategy development: Taking stock
  4. Putting learning loops and cycles in practice
  5. Tinkering with tools: Asessing Asana
  6. Portrait of the modern knowledge worker
  7. Who is in for triple loop learning?
  8. Opportunity costs of documentation and how to make it work…
  9. Of ‘healthy human systems’ beyond ‘the field’ and facilitating conversations that change the world: an interview with Sam Kaner and Nelli Noakes
  10. Enabling change: a manager’s choice (and a leader’s decision)

Review of 2015 by WordPress

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Where is KM and its spirit?


Is it dead?

Is it dying? (link pending on KM4Dev Dgroup membership)

Is it in comms?

Is it in my work?

Is it in my head? 

KM, connecting people, conversations and traces (Credits: CENews)

KM, connecting people, conversations and traces (Credits: CENews)

The danger of terms like knowledge management is their undue mystifying power. It means many things to many people. And it tends to confuse everyone – much like the term ‘knowledge’ itself anyway.

But the point is simple – and rather than define KM, let’s rather look at some key situations when ‘KM is inside‘.

  • When you want to stop talking at people, when you want to disrupt one-sided communication and you want all people to engage in meaningful conversations with each other, to share knowledge, whether offline or online, you’re doing KM (well, KS, but that’s party of KM). When you want them to collaborate, online or offine, as an additional measure of engagement, you’re doing KM;
  • When you make sure everything that is talked about or produced can be found again, easily, accessibly, at all times, by all kinds of people and not just those that were involved in the first place, you’re doing KM (well, technically information management but it’s part of it);
  • When you want everyone involved in the work to learn, individually and collectively, when you want to connect all the thinking dots together to discover the next useful questions, through communities of practice, engaging events and processes, multi-stakeholder platforms, learning forums, capacity development initiatives, you are doing KM.

Either of these areas on its own is not worth much. But the combination is terrific.

There is no need to separate KM from communication. There is no need to put KM on a pedestal, what matters is the areas and principles it stands for, roughly around conversations, documentation and learning. KM = CDL, on the journey to universal sense-making.

But the danger is that by not paying attention to what KM stands for, we forget to ensure these principles and areas of work are part and parcel of our approach, and we come back to the realm of egoism, ignorance, bickering, nepotism, chaos…

I feel smarter already, I think (Credits: Van Corry/FlickR)

I feel smarter already, I think (Credits: Van Corry/FlickR)

It’s as simple as that.

So keep smart work up, and make sure that in whatever form or shape, the spirit of KM is inside, like the genie in the bottle.

Related blog posts:

(Blog hols) Time to leave KM aside again, life morphs on :) … and some ideas for you…


Another little hand to catch and shake (Credits: Thomas / FlickR)

Another little hand to catch and shake (Credits: Thomas / FlickR)

Nearly three years after KM became irrelevant to me for the first time, another similar event is about to happen, so I will leave this blog for a while and come back to it, hopefully with fresh ideas, probably not with fresh energy ha ha ha.

In the meantime, here are some recent posts you might find useful:

You could find ways to participate differently in a community of practice (CoP), navigating the 90-9-1 rule, as I am trying out, leaving the core group of KM4Dev and trying to influence that CoP from another side

You might find out how to cope with overwhelming and badly run virtual meetings.

You could see if you’re using all parts of your identity to the best of your KM capacity.

You could find four practical approaches to deal with complexity through space and time.

You could ponder on the overall importance of capacity in global development (cooperation).

You could read an interview I gave to APQC about the importance of getting KM and communication accepted and budgeted for.

You could see a prezi about navigating complexity in monitoring and evaluation with the help of KM;

You could find a simple way to deal with information overload and filter failure;

You could discover the idea of ‘blurred boundaries’ at work in development in this interview with Michael Victor.

And here is the top 10 posts of the past 3 months:

  1. Managing or facilitating change, not just a question of words (Shouldn’t we embrace change proactively rather than fear it reactively?)
  2. Tinkering with tools: what’s up with Yammer? (a first ‘Tinkering with tools’ post about Yammer in general and in use within the CGIAR)
  3. What is common knowledge about knowledge? A visual tour… (8 pictorials about knowledge and what worth they are)
  4. (You’re not welcome) On the dark side of co-facilitation (what are some traps in co-facilitating an event and how to get over it).
  5. Settling the eternal semantic debate: what is knowledge, what is information… (a very popular post because of the interest around the DIKW pyramid – though I criticise it here)
  6. Portrait of the modern knowledge worker (A popular hit, listed on the World Bank’s KM portal – what are the skills and attitude required to be an effective knowledge worker nowadays)
  7. Leaders, innovate please! (A rant about managers just not getting what leadership in a complex world means)
  8. Anatomy of learning: how we (individuals) make sense of information (building a framework about learning conversations, between individuals and collectives)
  9. I share because I care! (very short and simple reasons to share knowledge and information)…
  10. Putting learning loops and cycles in practice – a more pragmatic take on single/double/triple loop learning

See you in a few weeks!

The one true KM challenge


As I view mailing list threads dedicated to KM, read documents about KM, talk with colleagues and partners about KM, work on KM programmes, it is becoming clear to me that the one main challenge we are struggling with is this:

How much should we try to document (i.e. observe, analyse, write and arguably stock) experiences to make them accessible to others and how much should we just share by talking or acting together?

Obviously both are needed. We need to talk and do things because it is the way we are creating sense and indeed turning information into knowledge. To me this is by far the most powerful way to learn: talking with and practicing about. But at the same time, the bias of talking / acting together is one of scale: we cannot share verbally with all people nor work together with them all. There is a certain degree of necessity in codifying / documenting / capitalising on what we have experienced to make it accessible to others – so that they don’t spend the same time making the same mistakes and end on the same results, but instead focus on the follow up to our own actions.

Now the trick is really that increasing amounts of information are available and as we have increased opportunities to communicate with more people, carry out various tasks at the same time, our time is reduced to read. And indeed people read less and less. So how to make the codified information useful, in a format and with content that is appealing to those who may enjoy the fruits of our experiences? And even what information is useful to document? Is it better to provide hands-on guides on a particular practice/experience or simply to indicate where more information can be found about it? Because knowledge is so much dependent on the previous experiences, personal view of the world, and immediate sense of purpose for which we will use information, is it even useful to make how to’s and other solidified knowledge? In many cases, how to’s end up being either so general that they are at best common sense check lists or so specific that they are not useful in other contexts. What always seems useful are the practical cases in which the context is created.

Is it not better to document instead emerging patterns? The cracks and holes of our paradigms? The unachieved or yet unspoken of? Documenting that information could be more useful to creating a framework for accommodating more useful knowledge. In other words, instead of trying to ‘make knowledge’ available as in statements (or rather ‘affirmations’ in French), we could instead propose emerging questions, insights and doubts to help the quest for knowledge more than the knowledge itself.

It strikes me now that we (here meant as KM4D practitioners) are aware that we  are not trying to single out knowledge and to put it in a jar, but still our quest for consolidated knowledge makes us forget that what matters is the learning process, not what we have learnt. And the codification / consolidation of knowledge is perhaps mostly a question of getting it organised on a personal level… at least until we find an example of an organisation that has consolidated all its experience and practices in a directly useful way to its employees and audience.

Until we find that example, I will keep for more examples of how to consolidate information well and why or in what conditions…