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Facilitation Skills: Decision Making & Conflict Resolution

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2b. Facilitation Skills: Decision Making and Conflict Resolution
The Art of Facilitation How to Make Good Decisions Understanding and Learning from Conflict

“I believe that moving from an adversarial to a dialogue stance is the core requirement, if we are to move from co-stupidity to co-intelligence.” – Robert Theobald

Facilitation Skills

Nowadays there is emerging a strong demand from people to have input into the decisions that affect their lives, and to have a chance to add their creativity and insight to solutions. Wherever groups of people gather today to figure things out, make decisions or solve conflicts, there is the question of who gets to participate, whose wisdom will be heard, and what process will be used. We all are familiar with meetings where a few people sit at the front on stage and tell the assembled people sitting in rows what to think. Maybe they can ask questions, but not offer their own ideas.

This process is top-down and condescending. It implies that some folk are “right”. They are the ones with the answers. The rest of the folk are wrong or ignorant, with nothing worth sharing. This is not to deny the role of experts in dealing with many issues, but all too often those in power listen only to the experts, and not to the whole group or to the public at large in a community. When power is used in this way, minority voices find a great difficulty to be heard and there is a big potential for conflict.

Greater participation, however, is tricky. Many of us have terrible experiences of meetings where there is little care or little knowledge about how to conduct the process. People are freely ridiculed while still speaking. Argumentation and often abuse fill the air. One hesitates to open one’s mouth in this environment. Even in groups of equals it is not rare to see how people with high rank abuse inadvertently of their position, while others with lower rank suffer in silence and don’t speak up for fear of the consequences.

There is no need for such meetings. There are learnable, teachable skills and processes for orchestrating meetings that get everyone participating and sharing their wisdom. Wherever groups of people gather to create a vision, make decisions, plan activities or solve their conflicts, they have different options on how to conduct their meetings. No matter what the chosen option is, the group has much to gain by using a facilitator and knowing about facilitation skills.

LAEV Retreat

Los Angeles Ecovillage Retreat facilitated by Tree Bressen - Click on image for more info about Tree Bressen work

Open Space Technology

Open Space Technology is a simple way to run productive meetings, and a powerful way to lead any kind of organization, in everyday practice and ongoing change
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The Society for Organizational Learning, SoL, is a global network of organizations, researchers and consultants, aimed to create and implement ideas for innovation and change. SoL was founded in 1997 by Peter Senge.