2 minute read
Having ‘sat both sides of the table’ on this debate, here’s our view on why we’re even more impactful as external facilitators.
It was only a few years ago that we left internal roles in large global businesses. Working in the field of Organisational Development meant our work ranged from large group strategy co-creation through to complex process re-engineering. Some of our work involved facilitating leadership teams at their away days, whilst holding in one hand the age-old dilemma and debate of “do we use an internal or an external facilitator”?
There are plenty of opinions out there and at a glance ‘10’ being the magic number of reasons which people share – and let’s be honest, probably written by external facilitators. There’s a double irony here, as we are ourselves external facilitators, but in true Up! style, let us provide you our view, where we boiled it down to 3. OK, 3.4… and they’re all inherently linked, and you’ll see why…
Number 1: “We’re not part of the system”
Yep, a grand and obvious statement to start with,AND what that means is that we’re not intertwined with your existing politics, norms and patterns. We certainly respect these things as often they of value to the organisation; however it does provide us the space to notice what ‘is’ and what ‘isn’t’ taking place, both at a ‘task’ level and a ‘group maintenance’ level. It’s akin to that wonderful state you find yourself in during your first 100 days in a new organisation, where you can ask questions and explore with natural curiosity… knowing that you can play the safety card of “oh, apologies, I’m new here”.
Number 2: “Balancing the level of Structure”
An external facilitator tends to have more experience of working with groups from different businesses and therefore hasa greater depth of diagnosis and experience as to what level of ‘structure’ a group needs at that very moment. We continually test these boundaries tohelp the group learn about themselves,however,the respect for the agreed agenda comes with a large dose of having the courage to step aside from it, in order to best serve the group.Even down to ‘who holds the flipchart pen’ sets a tone and expectations in a session (and secretly I would love to write a whole book on ‘pen politics’ – it’s fascinating to watch!)
Number 3: “There’s an art and science to taking care of a group”
Christina and I always work together when team coaching. At times one of us will be helping the group navigate and co-create their work (the task in hand) whilst the other one of us will be focused on supporting ‘how’ they work (the maintenance of the team). It’s getting the right balance at the right time which is key, so that the two elements don’t sit in blissful ignoration as separate items on an away-day agenda. The right balance creates safety within the group, allowing people to share vulnerabilities, ideas and calling out ‘the unsaid’ without fear of being shot down or separated from the rest of the team. The right balance also helps maintain energy and relevance to groups, allowing them to achieve more.
Number 3.4: “An OD professional will draw on what is needed, not what they want”
We’re not wedded to one team effectiveness theory. We’re not wedded to one leadership model. The field of Organisational Development spans multiple disciplines, each having its own richness and depth. We’ve akit bag of tools and approaches that draws on strategic decision making, behavioural science, change management, NLP, the list goes on… We’ll bring out of the kit bag what a group need in that moment in order to make sense of their own group dynamic, create better outcomes and what they can learn through the process to ultimately… Unlock Performance.
So if that helps; great.
Or even better… if you want to discuss, challenge or just curious to learn more about Up! and the facilitators that created “the best facilitated workshop I have ever attended” (Director, July 2019), take a peek at some example case studies then give Tim a call on 07957 600827.