What is Dynamic Facilitation?
Dynamic Facilitation is a way of facilitating people to address and solve difficult issues, even those that seem impossible. Rather than asking people to find some issue they can solve, the DF'er helps people find what they really care about and then to be creative in addressing it. Rather than asking them to hold back their emotions, stay on the agenda, abide by guidelines, or follow a step-by-step process, the DF'er encourages people to just say what they think. At the same time he or she keeps them and everyone safe from judgment and reflecting on how all the comments fit together. Four basic charts are used: Solutions, Concerns, Data, and Problem-statements. These charts hold the conversation so that comments are ultimately proven helpful and productive. They frame the conversation as a quest to solve the issues. The allow people to see and experience what they are saying, both as individuals and as a group.
Essentially, the DF'er establishes a "zone of thinking and talking" that is "choice-creating," where unanimous conclusions naturally emerge. The process relies on the skills of the DF'er more than the communication skills of participants. In this way, ordinary, untrained people can speak their minds and hearts while shifts and breakthroughs build exceptional conclusions. Also people come together as “We,” and build a shared story of progress.
Sometimes the shifts and breakthroughs take the form of new ideas. Other times they bring a new sense of what the "real problem" is, or a change of heart. At the end of a dynamically facilitated meeting, a fifth chart is used to capture the group conclusions, outcomes, or choices, or what we call "of courses."
Dynamic Facilitation opens a door to a deep emergent change process. People become open minded and open hearted in a way that they are more vulnerable. So it is best that DF be used on a regular basis rather than just to achieve the one needed breakthrough. It also only works when people can be authentic. So it doesn't work well for representatives, people watching the process to see how it works, or others who can't participate fully.
How is DF unique?
Most meeting processes aim to minimize dysfunction by helping people to keep control of their feelings using step-by-step processes, guidelines, roles, and interventions. People are expected to work only on issues that are possible to solve and that are in their area of responsibility, to stay on the topic, to mute their passion in favor of reason, and to break big problems into smaller ones.
Dynamic Facilitation seeks to maximize functioning by working with people's feelings. People are helped to express themselves authentically, to speak what's really on their minds and hearts. But to also direct the process toward the front of the room so people can stay safe and reflective at the same time. Breakthroughs and shifts arise naturally. See the chart of comparison between Dynamic Facilitation and Traditional Facilitation.
Seminars on Dynamic Facilitation
- Dynamic Facilitation Associates
- DiaPraxis, United States
- The Change Initiative ... Bangkok, Thailand
- Contrain ... Germany
- All-in-One-Spirit ... Germany