IAF Update June 2016

Chair's corner

I was delighted to be at the IAF Oceania Conference “Pushing Your Boundaries” in Melbourne from 25-27 May 2016, as that gave me the opportunity to meet with members and friends from the Oceania region. These conferences have always been a good test-bed for my professional inquiry and learning themes as a facilitator.

There were at a few constants from previous conferences that the 2016 Oceania conference organisers maintained:

  1. Well-thought out presentation tracks and curation of the presenter-led sessions, which helped maintain a high quality of learning;
  2. A strong focus on the informal aspects of a high quality conference experience that enabled delegates to get to know other delegates; and
  3. A members’ breakfast meeting where I was able to hear members’ concerns, interests, and offers about the association first-hand.

What I thought made this good conference even better:

  1. The international aspects of the IAF. Whether intentional or not, about 15% of the conference attendees came from outside the Oceania region. This meant a sufficient diversity to spark interesting conversations and to support meaningful interactions and networking across regions.
  2. Having four captains of industry into the room on the first day as a panel to speak about the value of facilitation from their leadership position was altogether affirming of the work our profession does and can do. That session provided valuable insight for members about ultimately what clients will pay for when they engage facilitators. Also, the fact that some panelists did not know enough about the IAF means that there is some work still to be done for our marketing and promotion activities.
  3. The conference organisers managed to work out a fantastic venue sponsorship with the National Australian Bank (NAB). We had marvellous plenary and small group rooms available to the conference delegates at no cost to the IAF, and NAB employees were able to attend conference sessions and to mingle with IAF members. This was really win-win for both our organisations at so many levels.

Still on the theme of pushing boundaries, one thought I had as I left Melbourne was what it would take for the IAF to organise a meaningful and profitable global conference once every three or four years. We have a proven track record for the most part for organising impactful facilitation conferences. Perhaps, it’s useful to (re)-imagine the purpose and role of conferences for the IAF and to locate a place for a twice-a-decade global gathering of the tribe.

In closing, I wish to extend heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the 2016 Melbourne conference organising team for creating an event that has yielded rich learning for so many people.

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

In this issue

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 June 2016 with the subject line “IAF Update July 2016”.

Tweets from Oceania

The 2016 IAF Oceania Regional Conference took place in Melbourne last week – check out this collection to see what you missed! 

Tips & tricks

Links we like

Reading recommendations

Local and regional activities

Method of the month: Ritual dissent

Purpose: This is a workshop method designed to test and enhance proposals, stories, ideas or whatever by subjecting them to ritualised dissent (challenge) or assent (positive alternatives). In all cases it is a forced listening technique, not a dialogue or discourse. It can be used on its own, or linked to story construction, social construction of the Cynefin framework and a broad range of methods.

Group size: The technique is normally used in a workshop with a minimum of three groups with at least three participants in each. Ideally the number of participants should be higher, but no higher than a dozen, and the larger the number of groups; the more iterations

Setting: Each group should be seated at a round table (or a circle of chairs), and the tables should be distributed in the work area to allow plenty of space between them. If the tables are very close then there will be too much noise which will restrict the ability of the spokesperson to listen the dissent/assent. The tables should be set up so it is easy (and very, very self evident) to give an instruction to move to the next table in a clockwise or anti-clockwise fashion. The technique has been used successfully with groups in separate rooms opening off a central space, although this makes the facilitator’s job more difficult. Each table or meeting room should be provided with a clipboard and pen for the spokesperson. This is not vital, but spokespeople frequently forget to take pen and paper, and the clipboard smoothes the process somewhat.

Read about the procedures on the IAF Methods Database


Study on facilitator competencies

Members of the IAF are invited to participate in a study on facilitator competency models, conducted by Agata Wróbel, MSc candidate for Innovation and Business at the University of Southern Denmark. The main question is what makes an effective facilitator, and what kind of competences are critical for this function in the context of creativity workshops.

Click here to respond to the survey.

The research aims to understand what are they key competences for a group facilitator, as well as what is their role and what it is not. While creativity workshops start to be a commonly used tool by many organizations, the role of moderator of such sessions is often unclear and there is not enough awareness about its importance. It is not uncommon for companies to ask managers to take the facilitative role, instead of using a help of a third party, while the skills required for both functions, despite having some similarities, are in fact very different.

Following this idea, the aim of the presented survey is to confront some of the competency models found in literature with the point of view of professional facilitators, in order to get as realistic point of view as possible. The results will then be combined with experts’ opinions, to get different perspectives and to create a holistic view on the topic. Thank you for participation in my study.

Contact: Agata Wróbel, agwro14@student.sdu.dk

Join us in the Facilitation Impact Awards!

The Facilitation Impact Awards for 2016 has kicked off! If you are willing to get involved with this exciting initiative, we need you! There are a number of roles you can play:

  • Evaluation. Join the Evaluation Team and be one of approximately 50 evaluators who review and assess submissions from around the world. You will receive detailed training in the assessment model and serve on a sub-team with two other evaluators to assess your assigned submissions. Evaluators should set aside 4-8 hours in total to take part in training and evaluation during August.
  • Regional Communications. Join the Communications Team to help get the word out about FIA to facilitators and facilitator-related associations in your part of the world. Communication Team members also work with awardees to publish a press release about their award. Communication Team members provide 4-8 hours in total split primarily between July and September.
  • Regional Awards. Join the Awards Team to assist in planning the award celebration for awardees in your region. IAF regions will have the opportunity to design and host their own award programs to recognize those organizations in their region receiving a Facilitation Impact Award. Awards Team members typically provide 8-12 hours of service. The timing of the effort depends on your region’s schedule for the regional awards program.

Serving on a FIA team is a great way to get involved with the program and to network with other facilitators committed to Promoting the Power of Facilitation. But whether you serve on a FIA team or not, please be sure to nominate one or more deserving organizations that have achieved measurable results through facilitation.

To join the FIA team, email the IAF office at office@iaf-world.org.

Professional development

Congratulations to our new IAF Certified™ Professional Facilitators!

Australia: Susanna Durston, CPF, Woodside Energy | Lea Hart, CPF | Sharon Honner, CPF, Ag Consulting Co. Pty Ltd. | Jacqueline Mundy, CPF, Mott Macdonald Australia | Iwona Polowy, CPF, Woodside Energy

New Zealand: Jan Hudson, CPF, Tonic Consulting | Ange Jones, CPF | Michelle McCormack, CPF, McCormack & Associates Limited

South Korea: Heyyoung (Kate) Jang, CPF, Blooming Management Lab | Seojin Nam, CPF, Koo Facilitation Group | Song-Yeon Kim, CPF, Koo Facilitation Group | Su-Youn Ally Yoo (Ally), CPF, Sempio Food Company

Find out more about certification!

IAF Calendar

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. Please join us:

Upcoming assessments

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

  • 20-21 June in Singapore (application closed)
  • 30-31 August in Hualien, Taiwan (in English and Mandarin, apply by May 30)
  • 3-4 October in Atlanta, Georgia (apply by July 4)
  • 17 November in Rossum, the Netherlands (in Dutch, apply by August 17)
  • 1-2 December in Toronto, Canada (apply by September 2)

All assessment dates

Upcoming events

A true Festival from Trinidad to North America

A story from the IAF Festival of Facilitation, April 2016

By Melissa Matthews and Michele Matthews-Morancie

From as far as Australia and as near as Woodbrook, Port of Spain, we gathered—eagerly, excitedly, agreeably, and passionately—at the Hyatt-Regency Trinidad for two days of learning and encounters.

We came to embark on a decidedly warm-natured yet uncomfortable journey to stretch ourselves and our practices. Uncomfortable because stretching our minds and sometimes re-thinking what we think we know always require that extra effort, openness and humility.

We—the participants, presenters, organizers and partners of the IAF 2016 North America and Caribbean Conference, "The Festival of Facilitation”—danced and laughed, reflected and meditated. We unpacked social context in leadership as well as learned and tested tried and true methods of engagement. We nurtured ourselves and each other through a process of learning and unlearning in true facilitator style. And, we tackled the challenge of defining, designing, and working through a process from start to finish.

It all started with the relaxed energy and subtle excitement of the pre-conference sessions on Thursday morning—the morning of April 7th.

On offer that day was a small selection of pre-conference workshop opportunities that ran the gamut of interest from dynamic facilitation and cross-cultural relations to leadership and team-building strategies.

At the very end of the hall, there was the hard-hitting enthusiasm and charisma of Michael Wilkinson’s “The Seven Separators of Facilitation Excellence”. At the other end, Nanci Luna Jimenez’s deeply personal and emotional (and maybe even controversial) session, “You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: Cross Cultural Capacity Building for the Authentic Facilitator”. Sandwiched between the two, there was the highly analytical and practical team-building of Charles Pellerin and Hector Villarreal’s session, “How NASA Builds Teams: The 4D System”.

The participants trickled into the three sessions…two, then three, then six, then eight sometimes more. Once in the room, they became enthralled, energetic and hyper-stimulated. By the coffee break, the hall was abuzz with the energy of participants sharing what they’d already started learning in their sessions. By the end of the workshop day, many participants could be overheard talking about their session, some even staying for more interaction with the speakers asking more and more questions.

Yet, the conference was just beginning.

Later that evening, the wildly inviting rhythms of the tassa drum (an original instrument from India) lured participants, guests and organizing committee members alike into the hotel’s Port of Spain Ballroom for an intimate, culturally rich opening ceremony and warm welcome. 

At the beginning of the gathering, our new six, brand new, CPF’s (three of them from Trinidad by the way) were introduced. They had prepared for their assessment on 6 April for months and made the grade. We acknowledge the work done by the Assessors at the first CPF Certification Event in the Caribbean. Our new CPF’s are: Kathryn Jones Douglas, Walter Sean Kelly, Sandra Pike-Anthony, Deb Seidman, Alicia Small, and Natalie Zend.

From the funny musings of Caribbean storyteller, author and all-around funnyman Paul Keens Douglas and the light-hearted theatrics of local theatre in action group, D.M.A.D. Company, to the hip-swaying soca and calypso tunes of the DJ, “The Festival of Facilitation” started off on a very “Trinbagonian” note that seemed to grip us all. That tone and beat of carnival, “Trini” culture and fun in facilitation reverberated throughout the rest of the conference.

On Friday, April 8th, participants were up early and pumped up to hear and really take in an astrophysicist view on team cohesion and execution, Charlie Pellerin’s keynote address “The Fifth Force: How Social Context Makes or Breaks Group Performance.” He shared his insight and methods with all the participants, stating that social context, understood as the rules (most of them unspoken) that groups live by, define the outcome of its work. Through a series of examples he demonstrated how a broken social context makes it practically impossible for a team to succeed.

Drawn in by Charles’ presentation, we were captivated by the live graphic recording of each and every salient point by Rosanna von Sacken. For many of the participants, it was the first time they had ever seen a workshop captured on-the-spot and projected on-screen. it was a sight to behold and, though compelling, our keynote was far from the only enthralling facilitator on-hand during the day.

One of the main goals of this conference was to create an opportunity for the cross-fertilization of ideas and techniques between the Caribbean and North America. We all know we have different cultures and ways of dealing with life, but, how does that show in facilitation? How do the different styles aid a group to get where it wants to go.

The Caribbean region’s facilitators really took stewardship in this regard and presented dynamic and engaging sessions with a hint of Caribbean flavor (anybody want some pepper with those doubles?). Amongst us we had the opportunity to experience the work of Ulla Wyckoff-Tomlinson and Gillian Chambers from Jamaica; Sharon Almerigi and Toney Olton from Barbados; Patrice Briggs, Georgia Donaldson, Maxine Attong, Melissa Matthews and Michele Matthews-Morancie of Trinidad & Tobago. For many of our North American counterparts it was the first time they experienced being led by a facilitator from the Caribbean.

We have to admit, presenters brought their A-game with praise-worthy workshops facilitated throughout both days—far too many to count or name! At the end of the second day, partnerships had formed; there was talk of establishing a local IAF chapter in the twin island, host nation; people were visibly exhausted and exuberated all at once. And still, we weren’t finished yet.

Punctuating an enriching two-plus-day experience of learning, growing, changing and sharing on Saturday, April 9th, the Gala Dinner and FIA Awards Ceremony was the finishing touch of a greatly and enjoyable conference.

During the dinner, the IAF Board Members presented the 2015 Facilitation Impact Awards to three projects and their facilitators present for the ceremony:

  • First Phoenix Group, Facilitator Don Kerper
  • Madison College, Facilitator Jeremy Kautza
  • Xavier University of Louisiana, Facilitator Michael Wilkinson

After the awards, the participants were enlivened by the sweet sounds of Trinidad & Tobago’s national instrument, the steelpan played by the magnificent City Sun Valley Pan Groove band (you can find some of their music here). There were flashes everywhere as the delegates went closer to the band to take a picture and record the moment to share back home.

Spirited with the celebration of awardees, new CPFs, raffle prize winners and participants simply moved to sway their hips, wind their waists and tap their feet, it was the most joyous ways of closing the Festival of Facilitation. We even saw a Hall of Famer or two doing the conga line (actually almost all participants joined for the dancing).

In so many ways, it seemed the best of ways to say “let’s dance all the way to the next 2017 Conference in the United States”.

Click here for more pictures from the conference