Chair's corner: Looking forward

03 January 2017

On behalf the IAF Board of Directors, I bring you New Year’s greetings to you and yours!

We stand at the beginning of a new year, with fresh aspirations and resolutions. In a very real way, I am glad that 2016 is past as it was a challenging year with my wife and work partner, having to battle through a cancer diagnosis and treatment, amongst other things. Thankfully, she has been given a clean bill of health and the next phase is one of ‘surveillance’. I am looking forward to resuming my cycling with her this year, but I recognise that our riding patterns will have to adapt accordingly.

2017 will be my last year as Chair of the International Association of Facilitators and there are a few things left to be done. My reading of current trends is that the association is doing something right based on the increase in demand for certification and rise in membership numbers. We can still do better. For instance, there are markets that remain largely untapped and we could learn from how the International Coaching Federation provides input into how members’ businesses can grow. We also can certainly improve on our membership retention metric. Yet these concerns could still be understood as fairly inward looking.

Widening the scope, if we are agreed that the world today will not be the same in 2020, what will the IAF need to be in 2020 to continue and build on progress we’ve made as an association now?

In essence, my understanding about the work that remains, is to create needed alignments between:

  1. the IAF with established and emerging membership markets;

  2. those who find professional certification meaningful and for those who have yet to reach that point; 

  3. those beginning in facilitation and those who are experienced and established in the field; 

  4. our internal resource allocation and structuring choices to develop our successful programmes such the Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF), Facilitation Impact Awards (FIA) and International Facilitation Week (IFW) into signature strengths and to nurture our other programmes into successful ones.

These alignments will support a clearer focus on the IAF’s core ‘business’ and with that better defined market segments and an integrated ‘shopfront’ of services. Underlying the success of this work will be how we think and dialogue about the IAF’s core purpose and how we will able to actualise it meaningfully with a view to 2020 and beyond. We are at 1800 members in 2016, how should we organise in order to grow to 3000 by 2020?

In about three weeks, the IAF Board of Directors will meet for its annual Face-to-Face meeting in Toronto. Your board members will review 2016 and make decisions to move key strategic pieces forward in response to these questions and more. I will also be making an outreach to chapter leaders over the next two weeks to share and hear from them in time for the meeting.

A final reference to cycling now. Riding to scenic vistas and picturesque locations are often the highlight and inspiration of my fellow riders and I. Yet ‘the looking forward’ is also about looking out for the potholes and slippery spots where a fall could take place. Most times, a well-oiled group will anticipate these but even the best cannot always anticipate an unforeseen slip and slide. We need to remain vigilant to these risks and respond accordingly with a view to a learning mindset to them, even if we should fall.

Let’s rise to the challenge and opportunity that 2017 will bring!


Noel E K Tan, CPF
IAF Board Chair, 2016-2017