While the process for delivering a successful outcome to any and every meeting will be different, the principles behind achieving that successful outcome remain the same. This is precept behind the facilitator’s role – and a competent facilitator helps people to deliver answers to complex issues in an operational context without necessarily being a subject matter expert.

People who recognise the challenge facing organizations of needing to take action judiciously in the face of huge pressure can offer a way to take the whole organization forwards together.

Balancing time, the degree of uncertainty of the issues and the process maturity of the group is crucial. The ‘time’ element can often take too much precedence – and, as a result, decisions are rushed or even unattainable, thus depleting the task’s value. On the other hand, time may be spent on team meetings with no real purpose. Too often, when time dictates the agenda, everything else, including the approach, becomes subordinate.

So, facilitators must understand the continuum of decision-making and change which identifies the best tool or technique to use in a particular situation to enable the group – emotionally and mentally – to commit to their decision. The starting point has to be based on real life – how an organization can use process improvement facilitation and participative change to engage managers and staff.

In this way, the facilitators can tackle any change agenda with the confidence and the methodology to engage staff in the process and show what it can deliver.

Facilitation is not about coaching; nor is it about being a trainer or consultant. Consultants want to give the answer to the group. Trainers use some participative methods in a mixture of ‘enabling’ and ‘telling’. Coaches tend to work on a one-to-one basis with their clients, while facilitators work with a group to develop objectives and solutions.