Noel EK Tan, Chair of IAF

Chair's corner: our focus areas for 2017

01 February 2017

The 2017 Board just concluded its annual Face-to-Face (F2F) meeting in Toronto, Canada, and we’re really geared up for 2017.

What is the F2F meeting? It usually happens every January over 4-5 days. Designed and facilitated by an external person, pro- bono, board members build shared context and get into a strategic conversation about the direction and governance of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).

What were the outcomes of the F2F meeting? In this month’s Chair’s corner I will outline the big questions, what decisions were made, and key focus areas that we identified for 2017.

I will continue sharing updates with you here over the next three months about our progress, so stay tuned!

The big questions

Some big questions we asked ourselves at the F2F were:

How can we best support you?

Our amazing community of members is growing fast, and this requires some thought about our current organisational structure (which is mainly formed of volunteers) - how can we optimise the resource we have to support you the best we can?

How can we improve our services for you?

We want to continually improve our support for your professional development and accreditation journey, so we’re asking ourselves what we can learn from other organisations and what services can we improve. For example, we’ve been inspired by the International Institute of Business Analysis and their four-tiered Business Analysis Certification. We are exploring new professional development steps for facilitators - both before and after the Certified Professional Facilitator assessment. How can we meet your development needs, whether you’re starting out as a facilitator, or a thought leader? How do we make the recertification process meaningful and relevant without becoming repetitive?

How can we grow our financial reservoirs?

This is crucial for mitigating against risks and enabling us to strengthen and build the organisation (and its reputation). We saw the investment in the new website increase members, which was a great achievement. We want to continue to provide a great service for our community. However, we also face risks, such as when conferences don’t break even - by having more money in reserve we can safeguard our events and core services.

Decisions made

The four roles of IAF

We are adopting four key roles to deliver our vision and mission statements:

  1. Advocate for the use of facilitation to solve complex human challenges
  2. Bridge between:
    those who are looking for facilitators and those who facilitate
    those who want to learn about facilitation and facilitation resources
  3. Convenor of:
    field-wide dialogue on facilitation issues with our strategic partners
    communities (chapters, special interest groups etc) with members
  4. Developer of:
    markets for members
    new facilitation technologies with partners

IAF 2021

We laid the foundations for our next five-year development plan. We agreed to extend the usual planning and review cycle from 12 months to 18 months to give us a more realistic and meaningful timeframe for several new initiatives being rolled out this year to take seed.

The ‘Best Why?’

As a result of the in-depth focus on using inquiry to drive the development of a strong IAF 2021 strategy, the Board began a conversation on the ‘Best Why?’ purpose question.

A member- and market-centric posture

The Board agreed that a member- and market-centric posture was necessary to make our respective efforts coherent and in alignment.

Special interest groups

This year, we will explore how to form special interest groups on themes such as virtual facilitation or youth facilitation that span across regions and chapters. These would connect like-minded members to contribute to key dialogues globally.

Nine key focus areas for 2017

Looking back over the big questions and what we’d agreed, we were able to identify the following nine key focus areas for the next 18 months:

  1. Development of the facilitation profession
  2. Financial health
  3. Outstanding communication with our members
  4. Connected and vibrant communities
  5. Go-to brand for facilitation with strong reputation
  6. Dedicated leadership and governance
  7. Strategic partnerships
  8. Flourishing memberships
  9. World class development

These focus areas aim to guide and align our actions, and indicate the ambition of the 2017 Board to sustain this growing footprint of the IAF. It’s not just about what IAF members want for ourselves, but also what the world at large may need from us.

I will be articulating in greater detail what has been outlined here in the upcoming Chair’s Corners.

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

IAF Editor