This Tools for Change Handout on Facilitation was compiled by myself (Jessica Bell). The content was developed by Leah Henderson and I while we were preparing for the two workshops on facilitation we hosted earlier this year. There are a lot of facilitation guides out there but very few are directed to facilitating in the advocacy and social movement world.

The handout covers a range of useful topics, including:

1. What a facilitator does and does not do

2. Steps you need to take before a meeting (including deciding whether you actually need a meeting and assessing a group’s decision making process and culture)

3. Establishing ground rules

4. Summarizing basic facilitation tools (from brainstorming to spectrograms to quadrants)

5. Listing additional facilitation resources (we really like the series of eight slim books called “Facilitation Resources” that are published by the University of Minnesota Extension Service in 1999. You can buy each volume for about $8.)

6. Outlining the exercises we used to teach facilitation. (If you try these facilitation teaching tools out please tell us how they work for you.)

We’ve also designed a few diagrams to help you better understand these tools. For instance, check out this quadrant diagram. Quadrants can be extremely useful.  I like to use a quadrant exercise when I want to tease where people stand on a proposal, not only in terms of whether they support the proposal or not, but also the extent to which they actually care about the outcome of this decision. I’m sure many of us have been in meetings where it seems like people care about a decision but then, when the final vote comes, it becomes obvious that only one person cares about the outcome. Something to avoid.  Of course, the quadrant exercise can be useful for a whole range of questions and decisions.  For specifics on how to set up this quadrant read the handout. 

Then there’s this sample organizational chart. We find these organizational charts useful for determining who or what group is responsible for which decision. By looking at this diagram, for instance, you can tell that a conversation about short-term financial projects (such as organizing the yearly Christmas fundraiser) will need to involve the fundraising working group. This can be helpful if you are an external facilitator working with a group that is unfamiliar to you.

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We also have a facilitation workshop and a decision-making workshop coming up in the new year. Registration is now open.