A facilitator should be able to help a group mould its ideas into decisions and solutions with minimum effort on the part of the group, thus maximizing the use of the group members’ time.

Groups will go through three stages:

  • Stage One: Dysfunctional. There is strong leadership and the group’s agenda is set. The group can only manage if there is a rigid procedure which everyone follows.
  • Stage Two: Transitional. The group begins to use different formats and procedures to increase its flexibility. Interactions within the group increase and the group begins to take an active interest in the process.
  • Stage Three: Process Aware. Here, the group recognises uncertainty and adapts the process appropriately to cope with this. Individuals take responsibility for the process.

The group moves through the stages from being dysfunctional to being transitional initially by the leader relinquishing control to the process. The facilitator engenders in the group a willingness to try different techniques. The group then begins to recognise the part that process plays in achieving an effective outcome – and how much time is needed.

The group moves from the transitional to the process aware stage as it takes more notice of process, uses appropriate techniques to tackle the task and resolves to be willing to work in complexity – not avoid it.

In helping to bring about this change, facilitators can choose from four basic format options:

  • All – each person works on her/his own. There is no collusion, so no one can be influenced by anyone else. People inform themselves, develop their opinions and those opinions are the individuals’ own.
  • Group – everyone works together and the facilitator looks for different perspectives emerging from the group.
  • All to One – everyone does the selected activity, directing their outputs to one person. Potentially everyone makes an input.
  • One to All – the standard teacher/ instructor model. One person does the activity to, or on behalf of, everyone else. This approach ensures that everyone knows what needs to be known.

The Facilitator will select the appropriate format required depending on the time available and the group’s level of process awareness. These formats are designed to get the best out of the group.