Sunday, November 28, 2010

One of the most useful papers on facilitation I've come across

For my research, anyway, in terms of research methods chosen, subject matter, and clarity:

Jean-Anne Stewart (2006). High-Performing (and Threshold) Competencies for Group Facilitators. In Journal of Change Management, Dec 2006, Vol. 6 Issue 4, p417-439.

Based on her doctoral thesis, it describes a qualitative study of UK facilitators with the aim of identifying the key competencies for effective workshop facilitators. It lays out a convincing justification for qualitative research in this area and provides clear diagrams of facilitation roles, processes, and competencies. The "motives and traits" identified are similar in kind and aim to my "framing model" attributes.

Her competency model is strong on communicative and ethical characteristics, though mentions almost nothing on aesthetic capabilities except references to skills with audio-visual aids. The simultaneity of being able to apply the various types of competencies was seen as characteristic of more expert facilitators:

...high-performing facilitators were frequently described as ‘being able to do it all at once’. The research review group referred to the acronym of LEAPS (listen, empathize, ask, paraphrase, summarize) as an example of how the facilitator uses a group of competencies almost simultaneously.
(p. 431-432)

Finally, the list of potential benefits of such research will be a useful reference for when I come to my conclusions/future work chapter (soon enough):

  • Facilitator training could be designed to ensure effective competency development
  • It would provide a framework for skills development for facilitators
  • Qualiļ¬cations could be designed based on the competency model
  • Clients would be able to select facilitators with the appropriate competencies to meet their workshop requirements
  • The competencies would provide a common language for facilitators and clients
  • Workshops would use the most effective facilitator to ensure the desired outcome, thus avoiding wasting people’s time in unproductive sessions
    (p. 438)
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