Group Facilitation

See also Facilitación de Grupos
La facilitation de groupe

Brief Description

group_facilitation_sam.jpgGroup facilitation is aimed to enable groups and organizations to work more effectively; to collaborate and achieve synergy. The facilitator is a content neutral party who by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of view during the meeting, can advocate for fair, open, and inclusive procedures to accomplish the group’s work.

"Group facilitation is a process in which a person whose selection is acceptable to all the members of the group, who is substantively neutral, and who has no substantive decision–making authority diagnoses and intervenes to help a group improve how it identifies and solves problems and makes decisions, to increase the group’s effectiveness."
Roger Schwarz ‘The Skilled Facilitator’ quoted by IAF - International Association of Facilitators


(if applicable)

When to use

For many professionals, a facilitator is someone who assures that the meeting is on track, determines whose turn it is to speak during open discussions, and makes sure that the sessions start and end on time. The Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making introduces the reader to other dimensions of facilitation, such as designing realistic meeting agendas, achieving full participation, promoting mutual understanding, and helping groups build inclusive, sustainable agreements. The book serves as a manual for starters as well as a sourcebook for trained, professional facilitators.
  • Group Facilitation Norms
  • Everyone participates, not just the vocal few.
  • People give each other room to think and get their thoughts all the way out.
  • Opposing viewpoints are allowed to exist.
  • People draw each other out with supportive questions. “Is this what you mean?”
  • Each member makes the effort to pay attention to the person speaking.
  • People are able to listen to each other’s ideas because they know that their own ideas will also be heard.
  • Each member speaks up on matters of controversy. Everyone knows where everyone stands.
  • Members can accurately represent each other’s point of view. – even when they don’t agree with them.
  • People refrain from talking behind each other’s backs.
  • Even in the face of opposition from the person-in-charge, people are encouraged to stand up for their beliefs.
  • A problem is not considered solved until everyone who will be affected by the solution understands the reasoning.
  • When people make an agreement, it is assumed that the decision still reflects a wide range of perspectives.
(Source: Kaner, S.; Lind, L.; Toldi, C.; Fisk, S.; Berger, D. 1996. Facilitator’s guide to participatory decision-making)

How to use

What is most important?
  1. Negotiate your mandate with the owner of the event. First get clarity about the expected results, and then choose the appropriate methods.
  2. Successful facilitation begins with preparation. Make sure, the programme meets the expectations of the owner and the concerned group.
  3. Limit yourself to what is feasible. If needed, re-negotiate your mandate.
  4. At the start of every event, make a clear agreement with the participants (objective, programme, time frame, roles, and procedure).
  5. Stick to your role (process manager) and respect the role of the participants (experts of content).
(Source: SDC Learning&Networking)

Tips and Lessons Learnt

(add yours)

Examples & Stories

Who can tell me more?

  • Jamie Watts (j.watts [at]
  • Michael Hailu (m.hailu [at]
  • Nadejda Loumbeva (nadejda.loumbeva [at]
  • Sophie Treinen (sophie.treinen [at]
  • Douglas Horton (d.horton [at]

Related Methods / Tools / Practices



Photo or image credits

Group facilitation workshop participants, IPGRI, Rome, February 2005