group work is an integral part of supporting participatory processes.
facilitator takes a central role in guaranteeing a smooth, goal-oriented
and successful running, as well as the involvement of all participants
in such a process. In order to fulfill this role, there are some
basic rules/steps which can help (of course they must be adapted
each time to the respective facilitation situation):
to keep yourself and your personal opinions as much as possible
out of the dynamics of the process. Rather be a good observer
(keep an eye on the social interaction, as much as on the contents
of the work) and try to see yourself as a kind of instrument, maintaining
a balance between letting the group work on their own and interfering
and assisting actively in order to avoid unnecessary detours
sure that there is a conducive and functional working environment
(e.g., enough space and light, appropriate temperature, minimal
outside disturbances, necessary equipment readily available,
such as well-prepared agenda, visualization materials, handouts etc.).
to get prior information on/a comprehensive impression of all
participants in order to be able to assess their strengths and
weaknesses thus providing optimal support to each of them (also
those you may personally dislike).
the beginning of a working session,
people who do not know each other introduce themselves
- if time/group size does not allow for that, at least
give a rough overview (e.g.), which groups/professional
backgrounds are represented)
the visualized agenda/purpose/goal and timeframe
of the meeting and first allow time for (understanding) questions,
followed by comments, contributions, additions/ changes
the group decide whether it makes wishes to deal with
certain topics in subgroups and how much
time it wants to dedicate to each point on the
agenda (don't forget the topic "ending the session")
working in a group that is going to work together for
more than one session, propose that group members decide
how they want to be treated by/behave with each others
(such a "team-contract" is a very helpful tool to refer
back to, once frictions/conflicts arise)
the group is not familiar with VIPP (Visualization In Participatory Processes), briefly explain the advantages and introduce the
(visual) VIPP-rules. Then let the group decide, whether
they want to use VIPP.
the participants to start work according to the agenda - offer
proposals on working procedures/tools to be used, but do not
insist or feel offended if the group decides on something else.
Encourage quieter persons to contribute and amicably try to
restrict those who tend to talk too much (not according to your
own opinion, but try to catch the mood of the group). Keep an
overview and guide the group to adhere to
way of dealing with each other
timeframe or take a conscious and common decision
to change any of the above.
the end of the session, give a (visual) summary of achievements
and pending issues remaining . If necessary, let the
participants decide on the next steps and persons responsible
to initiate them. If they do wish and if time allows, let participants
talk about their perception of the process and on how it may
be improved during another working session.