Dynamic Facilitation

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Intent or purpose: 
Dynamic Facilitation is an energy-based form of facilitating where people address difficult issues creatively and collaboratively, and achieve breakthrough results. It establishes a process of talking and thinking, known as Choice-Creating, that builds mutual respect, trust and the sense of community. The dynamic facilitator plays an active role, helping people follow their heart more than a preexisting agenda. He or she helps them to determine an issue they really care about, whether it seems solvable or not. Then she helps them to say what is on their minds in a way that all can hear and respect. The dynamic facilitator helps foster shifts of heart and mind by following the natural flow of conversation and supporting group spontaneity. Sometimes these shifts take the form of new ideas; other times they bring a new sense of what the ?real problem? is; and other times there is a change of heart.
Recognizable Components: 
Dynamic Facilitation takes people as they are, without pre-meeting training, relationships or agreed-to guidelines. The dynamic facilitator helps each person be themselves, assures that each comment is heard and appreciated, and that the group achieves the optimal zone of talking, Choice-Creating. Dynamic Facilitation may use an agenda and meeting objectives, but the dynamic facilitator ?goes with the flow? rather than trying to manage the group toward an end. The dynamic facilitator is more oriented to how much people care about the issue or how enthused they are in the moment. Choice-Creating is like dialogue in that people explore topics open-mindedly and open-heartedly. But unlike dialogue they address problems and reach specific conclusions as well. A dynamic facilitator captures what people think and feel in the way our brains naturally work through an issue, rather than trying to focus on each piece one at a time. What emerges from the process is an unfolding view of an issue, diverging and converging around different ideas, thoughts, feelings, worries, and assumptions. Eventually the group converges around a shift or insight that reflects a shared assumption, a solution to a problem or key aspects of an action plan. Specifically, a Dynamic Facilitator uses lists for various statements of the problem at hand, ideas or solutions, concerns, data, and any decisions the group makes. These lists are key to the process, because the facilitator uses them to catch thoughts and responses out of the group on an emerging basis -- not to sort or as a record, but simply as a written reflection of what participants have said. As the process unfolds: people end up speaking less with each other (in cross-talk) and more in interaction with the evolving collective picture of what they are discovering as it takes shape up in the "shared space" being held by the facilitator and the lists. When this process is flowing, it is quite remarkable to witness. A beauty of the process is that objections there are to each others' ideas can be framed as concerns -- to be acknowledged, understood, and placed in public view for all to consider. Participants can just be their uncensored, passionate selves and the facilitator translates their experiences, insights, beliefs, knowledge, and feelings into group wisdom.
Types of Participants: 
Participants who are authentic. They speak their minds and hearts. Diversity of views is an asset in the quest for breakthroughs.
Recommended size of group: 
Optimal amount of time needed: 
4, two-hour meetings; ideally used on an ongoing basis
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
The best, fastest way for a group of people to solve a tough problem and to reach consensus is for them to have a breakthrough. Then, the results are exceptional and each person feels involved, knows what to do, and is committed to the group results. Also, the process builds individual skills, empowerment, trust and the spirit of community.
Level of participation: 
Participants in a Dynamically Facilitated meeting should be committed to staying for the entire meeting process. However, Dynamic Facilitation works when people are talking about what they care about - people should represent themselves only. Role playing or participating as a "representative" of some group of people does not fit well with the Dynamic Facilitation model.
Ideal Conditions: 
Dynamic Facilitation is especially valuable when people face really important, complex, strategic, or seemingly impossible-to-solve issues, when there is a conflict, or when people seek to build teamwork or community. It?s a way to spark ongoing dialogue, systems understandings, trust, wisdom, and to generate the spirit of involvement.
Potential Pitfalls: 
Dynamic Facilitation is not helpful when people are inauthentic, or playing an assigned role. Rather it?s for when people are authentic, really caring about problems and wanting them solved.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Not set
Setting and Materials: 
Room set up for participants to sit comfortably in a semi-circle around 4 flip charts. Lots of wall space required for posting flip chart paper. Pens and something to post flip chart paper also required.
Pre-Work Required: 
None required. Can sometimes be helpful depending on the context or situation.
How flexible is the process?: 
Follow-Up Required: 
Sharing of meeting notes, progress/shifts, and decisions or next steps.
Jim Rough
Derived from: 
Dynamic Facilitation was originally developed in a sawmill in Northern California. As an internal consultant for Simpson Timber, Jim Rough was told by management to ?make the line workers happy.? In weekly meetings, using Dynamic Facilitation, line workers met and transformed ? from wary and uninvolved to spontaneously addressing process problems within the plant in between meetings; from wanting to get rid of management to wanting to involve them in their creative process; and from quiet, solitary and uninspired to passionate, empowered and involved ? the managers were blown away and the organization became a vibrant, creative place to work.
History of Development: 

Dynamic Facilitation was developed by Jim Rough in the early 1980?s, consulting with mill workers in Northern California. The process has been developed through its use in other organizations and through the teaching of public seminars since 1990.

Dynamic Facilitation has been taught for nearly fifteen years to people who work in all types of industries and sectors, including corporations, government agencies, nonprofits and social activism, and consulting and organization development.

There are over 1000 people who have taken the Dynamic Facilitation Seminar and have practiced the approach in the spheres of business, public participation, counseling, coaching, conflict resolution, organization development, community organizing, and government.

License Model: 
Namesort descending City Country
Jim Rough & Associates, Inc. Port Townsend, WA United States
Namesort descending City Country
1 UpSideUp - Daniel Perdigão CARNAXIDE Portugal
Jim Rough & Associates, Inc. Port Townsend, WA United States
Spectrum Management Denver United States
Namesort descending City Country
1 UpSideUp - Daniel Perdigão CARNAXIDE Portugal
Jim Rough & Associates, Inc. Port Townsend, WA United States
Spectrum Management Denver United States