Almost all organizations, companies and businesses can expect that their operations may go through different periods of change at different points in time. When all is going smoothly, that’s great of course. But, when you face bumps in the road you may need to call in external help. For many situations, that help may come in the form of assistance from an external Facilitator. Consider, for example, a small unit in a larger institution that is struggling to stay relevant and competitive but the employees in that unit don’t know how to have a conversation about the changes they should be making or where to begin. Or, in another example, consider an internal power struggle that appears to be stemming from an outdated and flawed organizational structure that doesn’t match the current operational realities. As a result, the 2 main branches of the organization find themselves slipping into a power struggle and they don’t know how to address this growing division. If left unchecked, it may even result in a collapse.

How can a Professional Facilitator help you?

A Facilitator is much more than just hiring someone to run a meeting. A Facilitator can help with strategic planning, managing conversations about restructuring and how to navigate other major organizational changes, conducting visioning exercises, overcoming internal conflict and addressing deteriorating relationships via issue identification and discussion, undertaking specialized participatory research and analysis, delivering capacity building (training) workshops, and, lastly, running problem-solving sessions. All of this and much more can be undertaken by an experienced, professional Facilitator.

That is, more precisely, a Facilitator can design and guide a customized process to meet the exact needs of the organization, and they can bring their process-design expertise to this task (that likely does not exist internally in the organization). Additionally, they can make helpful suggestions and provide guidance based on years of experience working on other situations. Moreover, an outside Facilitator is neutral and impartial thus they can bring an unbiased perspective which can be a fresh way to kickstart new ways forward when things have stalled and the current approaches are producing the same old tired results. Lastly, a well-designed process can ensure that many potential options are brainstormed, communication is clear, everyone has a chance to fully participate, and the best possible solutions are decided upon by the group.

What's in it for your organization?

Facilitated processes can thus represent an inclusive, consensus-based approach to addressing the challenges almost all organizations face at some point. This means that there is a potential to create large amounts of buy-in from both internal and external stakeholders, thereby lessening the influence of potential spoilers. An organization can demonstrate its commitment to the values of inclusion and consensus-building by using facilitated processes.

In sum, when your organization is facing a daunting challenge that may be difficult to navigate, consider whether an outside Facilitator may be helpful. You may be surprised to discover the many forms of assistance that they can provide!

Evan Hoffman, PhD is a trainer, facilitator, mediator and consultant with over 20 years of experience. During this time, he has worked on a wide variety of projects in Canada and overseas. As a consultant to BNP Goldie Canada he provides expert advice and guidance to Canada’s philanthropic community.