IAF Update February 2016

Chair's Corner

Greetings to you in my first message to you as Chair of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). Let me introduce myself: I hail from Singapore and joined the IAF in 2009, attaining my IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF) credentials in the same year. As a member and volunteer in local, regional and global positions over the last three years, I understand my service in the Association as something I would do for friends; friends that I have come to cherish in the IAF and friends that I have yet to meet from around the IAF world. I am married to my life and business partner Brenda and have 3 children: Ethan (17), Edna (10) and Ezra (8). As a family, we are Star Wars fans and also avid cyclists – sometimes wishing we had speeder bikes like the ones in Episode VI, but that’s a story for another time.

In this email, I’d like to share an update from the IAF Board’s face-to-face meeting in Mexico City last week. Annually, we meet to induct new Board members, renew our strategic intent, and develop a work plan for the year. This year, I invited my colleagues to consider two questions: 

  1. If the IAF no longer existed, what would the world miss?
  2. If our members’ best significant work is in making breakthroughs for their clients, organisations and communities, how can the IAF in turn be significant for them?    

These questions are critical given the changing external and internal realities over the 21 years of IAF’s existence. Our inquiry evolved over four days around the theme ‘Promoting the Power of Facilitation, Supporting LIFE’. From our discussions, the board now has the first version of a strategy map to bring the IAF to 2020. An ambitious number of 20+ initiatives alone for 2016-17 will help us increase membership benefits and our positive impact in the world. While some will bear fruit shortly (like this new email update), others will have a longer time horizon; ALL will have the effect of ensuring the association is fit for purpose.

We are thrilled about the IAF’s unfolding future over the next 5 years. I hope you are too and if so, I invite you to press in with us and go forward together. Till next time, I wish you well!
Noel E K Tan, CPF 
IAF Chair, 2016-2017 


In this issue


+++ The date for International Facilitation Week 2016 is 17-23 October 2016 +++ The first IAF Endorsed™ Training Programmes are online +++ Meet the recipients of the 2015 Facilitation Impact Awards +++ New director for Canada appointed: Rosanna von Sacken +++

Five key initiatives for IAF 2016-2017

1. Professional Development Pathways Plan

This year, the Board will announce a multi-track and tiered professional development plan built around the CPF credential, providing impetus and structure to members’ continued growth in the facilitation field. This is the next logical step for the Association and one that we must take.

2. Volunteer Taskforce

A Volunteer Taskforce will study and recommend a coherent plan to enhance volunteer recruitment, engagement, deployment, and recognition processes. IAF is built on the engagement of passionate members like you. We can do much better in recognising your efforts to promote the power of facilitation worldwide. This initiative has strategic implications too - in effect; it will help to empower future leaders to serve the association at all levels, by members for members.

3. Leveraging the IAF global website

Much of the 2014-15 website redesign is completed. Members at the online AGM 2015 mentioned that the effort was a clear positive, for example through with the new member profile function. Let me tell you - that is only the beginning.

The next phase promises to be even more exciting with the addition of a web store for facilitation tools and materials and in time, materials for chapters and regions. Secondly, we will also develop a channel for client ‘requests for proposals’ (RFPs) where members can gain information from buyers around the world to enhance their business pipeline.

4. Revenue Growth Taskforce

Another key taskforce will look into diversifying the IAF’s revenue streams - currently membership dues, certification fees and conference fees. We have many ideas to grow the power of facilitation worldwide, and these three streams won’t be sufficient to support the IAF’s ambitions and potential.       

5. Youth Outreach Taskforce

I will personally be leading this taskforce. Many emerging facilitators and changemakers have grown up technologically-savvy, are eager to enact social and societal transformation and work through networks. We want to find ways to be relevant to future facilitators, introduce them to our ethics and values and encourage learning, innovation and thought leadership amongst practitioners across generations.                                                    

We would love to see members get involved in these taskforces – see below for volunteer opportunities. 

Upcoming Conferences

Experience the world’s best facilitators in action, explore the future of facilitation with your peers and have an inspiring time, enabling powerful change. This year, we are inviting you to join us:

Festival of Facilitation

IAF North American & Caribbean Conference: Trinidad & Tobago
Thursday, April 7, 2016 to Saturday, April 9, 2016
Programme just announced!

Pushing the boundaries

IAF Oceania Regional Conference: Melbourne, Australia
Wednesday, May 25, 2016 to Friday, May 27, 2016

From mountain to sea

IAF Asia Regional Conference: Hualien, Taiwan
Thursday, September 1, 2016 to Sunday, September 4, 2016
Call for proposals open until 1 March!

Participatory & Inclusive Development in Africa

IAF Kenya Chapter Conference
Friday, September 30, 2016 to Saturday, October 1, 2016

Upcoming Assessments

Considering to become an IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator? Here are our upcoming assessment dates:

            March 29-30 in Copenhagen, Denmark (application closed)
            April 6-7 in Port of Prince, Trinidad & Tobago (application closed)
            May 24-25 in Melbourne, Australia (apply by March 1)
            May 26 in Rossum, The Netherlands (in Dutch; apply by February 26)
            June 20-21 in Singapore (apply by March 18)

All assessment dates

The IAF Member Directory needs your photo!

The online Member Directory makes it easier than ever to locate colleagues around the world. While almost all of you have given us permission to share your profile in this members-only resource, many (70%!) have not included a photo. Frankly, this makes the directory look a bit lifeless.

Add your photo today! Just log into the website and click on “my profile” in the upper right corner of the screen. Then click on the camera icon and follow the simple instructions. This will replace the grey placeholder image with the face of a real person – you!

Update your personal information. While you are at it, review your contact information and member profile and make any needed corrections.

If you have any problems with these instructions or have suggestions about how we can make the Directory more useful, please write to membership@iaf-world.org.

Volunteering opportunities

We are looking for contributors for the following working groups of the IAF:

  • Editorial Team for the IAF Global Flipchart – Contact Wiebke Herding, IAF Director of Communications
  • Revitalizing the IAF Journal – Contact Kimberly Bain, IAF Vice Chair
  • Building a center of excellence for virtual meeting technology – Contact Donald Kerper, IAF Regional Director for United States of America
  • Exploring “A Youthful IAF” – Contact Noel E K Tan, IAF Chair

Share your stories!

Do you have news items or stories that you’d like us to include in the next email to IAF members? Please send them to communications@iaf-world.org by 20 February 2016 with the subject line “IAF Update March 2016”.

Member Story: Learning from challenging facilitation experiences

“The main lesson for me is that, no matter if you planned your session really well; there will be always some challenges to face. You must be open to always find something good when things do not work out so well. You have to always be open to find these positive things in order to learn.” – Jorge Valdés Garciatorres

Meet Jorge Valdés Garciatorres who has been an IAF member for 4 years and lives in México D.F.

Tell us about the organization you work for    

I am the principal for the Latin-American arm of a global business consultant and education company called TenStep. The company offers advice and education services to develop good business practice in Strategy, Innovation, Business Process Management and Project Management.

As with many small companies everyone does everything. However, I am mainly in charge of the whole business and work with current and new customers, in consulting, facilitation and also some teaching.

How do you use facilitation in your line of work?

I strongly think that nowadays, the only way to achieve good business practice is through inclusion and collaboration. To do the things right you need to facilitate workgroups to assess the current state, define the vision and integrate an action plan. People in my generation and later generations weren’t taught about collaboration so our approach is to use facilitation.

Tell us a story of a recent facilitation experience

At a global annual meeting in Montreal last year, I had asked the president of the corporation for some time to facilitate a session to explore opportunities in developing new products. I was given 90 minutes and designed a World Café activity; even though I knew the time frame was tight I felt positive about my skills and the group’s maturity.

On the day the room was full with people from around the world with many senior consultants. Suddenly it struck me that I was about to facilitate a group in English, which is not my native language. Panic started to take over. With five minutes to go my legs were shaking and my heart was beating like a crazy horse.

What I was doing there, why did I even ask to do this?

My mind went blank as the corporate president approaches to introduce me. Showtime! I started with a joke that fortunately resonated with most participants. They laughed and that helped me to relax and be in charge!

I had never facilitated such a diverse group and not in my language, and despite all my efforts, I soon realised the time was not enough to finish the process the way I wanted to.

This gave the impression to the group and the global president that we hadn’t achieved anything for the last 90 minutes. I felt very disappointed by my performance and followed up with a detailed report of the ideas generated, to help minimize the perception that outcomes had been scant.

However, I was sad, disappointed and felt like a failure.

Every night before I sleep, I reflect on what happened during the day. I recall carefully what happened during the day and ask if there is something I could have handled better. That night this process took longer than usual. While I was recalling this not so happy moment, I remembered also that several of my peers in other regions had approached me at the end of the session and thanked me: They had liked the dynamic, had fun and now understood several points from different perspectives. More than that, they had never tried this kind of exercise. Their feedback was great and I hadn’t even noticed their comments because I was too focussed on how I felt.

The main lesson for me is that, no matter if you planned your session really well; there will be always some challenges to face. You must be open to always find something good when things do not work out so well. You have to always be open to find these positive things in order to learn.

One of my colleagues will take care of this year’s meeting in October. He told me he felt inspired by what I had done and invited me to actively participate in the design of the whole session and facilitate another workshop. I guess that things were not as bad as I originally thought and the sun started shining again!

If you could share one thing you’ve learned with other facilitators around the world, what would it be?

To me, facilitation is the ultimate skill. It is very hard to facilitate and you need a lot of preparation and courage to do so. In my experience, the main secret to success is design. You have to put 80% of your effort and creativity in the design of the session and 20% of into facilitating (well perhaps a little more).

When everything has passed you will realize how much you enjoyed doing it and that you’ll notice that after each intervention, no matter if you did good or not so good, you’ve grown because you have learned and perhaps more important, you will realize that you have dared to do it. For me, that’s the success.

Links we like

Words of Wisdom: Facilitation Impact

The article below is republished with permission from the excellent blog of North Star Facilitators.

Facilitation impact is about societal, community, and organizational change. In this article, we talk about what facilitation can do when viewed at the mega scale and give two brief examples of mega change and impact from my own practice. 

How do we ensure impact?

Everything is in place. Your client has chosen you as the facilitator because they like your style and experience. You have decided what approach you are going to use. You’ve chosen some great tools and methods to execute your agenda design. Now what will your impact be? Have you been very intentional about this or is it just happening? Sometimes it can be both – ideally it is always thoughtful and intentional.

Almost always, we are called to help an organization to make a change – big or small. When we are specifically called to help design and implement a very large change, we may be entering the realm of an organizational development (OD) or community development (CD) consultant. So how do we ensure impact and positive change while staying in the landscape of facilitation?

Both the facilitator and the OD/CD practitioner are engaged to create change and have a positive impact. However, the OD/CD consultant may be hired and expected to facilitate but also to give advice/expertise on 1) what changes are needed and 2) how to execute the change. As a process facilitator, you can be intentional about staying in your role but still create the impact and the changes sought. So you do not advise, but you ask provocative questions and set up enough deep dialogue and thoughtful activities that the group clearly sees the changes that need to be made and the way to do it.

My experience with Impact…

Sometimes I have been hired initially for a single event thinking it is just a planning workshop or a team-building session. Then I realize several years down the road after many repeat engagements that I am in the midst of helping create a large culture change. One example of this is a government organization I worked with in Canada dealing with northern Indigenous peoples in more remote communities. Initially I was asked to work with conflict within the staff of the government agency. Surprise : ) – the Non-Indigenous and Indigenous staff did not always understand each other or have the same perspective on how to deal with the communities they served. They were not clear on their roles. There was a fair bit of tension in that event and I was not sure we had accomplished much. But I was hired again. : ) This time, the contracting client told me they wanted the staff to be more facilitative in their leadership in the communities – that they had been there a long time and had been used to “hand-holding” and doing too much for community members.

This signalled a culture change intervention to me. I was now entering the realm of OD and CD and yet I wanted to remain very facilitative to model what they were actually striving to do. Several meetings later, we held a huge event with both members of many remote communities and most of the government staff. It was fantastic. The staff members and community members had collaborated in designing this event; the staff facilitated many of the breakout workshops and the community members were able to tell the government staff how they wanted to proceed in their new partnership together. The work that came out of that single final event has been used as the agency’s guide for many years. Recently they consulted with me to offer a similar workshop, and they did it entirely on their own. That much capacity had been built that they felt they could facilitate a complex meeting. They were very satisfied with the results too. That is IMPACT. You show them how to be facilitative – you teach them through modelling and practice how to do it and you let them know you are confident in their ability to proceed.

Really Great Resources for More Impact

If you want to have more impact as a facilitator or even an OD/CD consultant, you may want to really learn how to create effective change interventions. Two of my favourite older books are Managing Transitions by William Bridges, and Whole Scale Change Toolkit by Dannemiller Tyson Associates.

Barbara MacKay is an IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitator (CPF) and facilitator-assessor with the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). She is the Founder of North Star Facilitators and a facilitator-assessor with the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA).