We had the first of our public service facilitators network events on Wednesday 18th May, to test out whether there’s an appetite for such a network and what could it look like.
Facilitating a room full of facilitators from across diverse areas of public service is quite an energising thought! However from the outset both my co-facilitator Dot McLaughlin and myself were clear that we were providing a structure for the day and relying on the wealth of talent, interest and enthusiasm of those in the room. This was very much co-production and co-delivery in action!
It was a stimulating , though-provoking day which has kicked started a vibrant network for those who are working in the complex space of facilitating across boundaries, whether those are internal to their organisation or across integrating services.
We had the opportunity to reflect on some of the complexities and challenges of this kind of facilitation. Some issues that surfaced were around the contracting phase where sometimes there can be a misunderstanding about what facilitation can and cannot do. Comments like “ we are change agents, not hired hands” illustrate the gap in understanding of the role of facilitation which about inquiry rather than being brought into a predesigned conversation which focuses on finding a solution quickly .
Other aspects that came to light was expressed as the “loneliness of the lone facilitator”. There were reflections on the importance of developing self-awareness, peer support and developing capacity in responding to groups at different stages and in different ways.
We shared a wide range of knowledge, topics and methods, including different ways of knowing, visual methods, 3d modelling, self-organising teams and the difference between hosting and facilitating, design thinking, reflecting on the tension between planning and working with emergence, as well considering how to inquire into yourself as facilitator while in the role of facilitating.
For future development we discussed a range of themes from: further developing materials and opportunities for personal insight; opportunities to observe each other and give feedback; developing a range of tools particularly around visual and creative methods of engagement.
There was a great deal of energy around creating a central brokerage; a pool of facilitators able to step across boundaries, for one off interventions and longer pieces of work. There was passion expressed by many that we should tap into this fantastic resource of facilitators across public service who can work imaginatively and collaboratively to support organisations to deliver better outcomes for the people of Scotland.
The next network meeting will be on the 28th September, in Edinburgh, and there are plans to develop similar networks in Glasgow and Highlands. We also have a Peer Learning Network Event on 22 June in Stirling, which will also look at operating in complex systems.
Please join the Workforce Scotland newsletter if you would like to receive updates on future opportunities to engage. We also have a facilitators forum on Khub – please do share your thoughts in the blog comments or on the forum and help us shape the network for the future!