Biscuits and Scaffolding: Liskeard Facilitation Network

On Monday 16th July, eight would-be Town Team facilitators met up for the first time. A couple of us have been facilitators in our work lives, but everyone else just came with good people-skills and a willingness to get involved.

Rachel led a workshop where we got clear about the role of a facilitator and learned about something called Network Thinking, which we’ll use at the working group meeting on 25th July.

So, what does a facilitator do?

We agreed that a facilitator’s role is to help a group do the job they set out to. He or she doesn’t contribute to the content of discussions, but will sometimes bring a process (such as Network Thinking) and will ask questions, summarise discussions, and do whatever is needed to keep the group on track. This often involves chocolate biscuits we discovered, but it also means making sure everyone has their chance to have a say and that people stick to the ground rules.

Who makes a good facilitator?

Anyone who can listen well and help guide people through a process.

And Network Thinking?

This neat four-step process took us from some initial ideas to a network diagram showing what the important elements of the facilitator group will be.

Step 1
We each thought of as many answers answers as possible to the question “What will the facilitator group be like?”, wrote them on post-its and stuck them on a flipchart on the wall.

Step 2
Everybody got involved in clustering the post-it notes so that similar ideas were together.

Step 3
We named each cluster, choosing a name that made sense to us, captured what was written on the post-its and helped to answer our question.

Step 4
We created a network diagram of the clusters by drawing arrows to represent the links between them. This enabled us to clearly see which elements of the facilitator group are key to its success.

So, what did we decide?

One very clear aspiration was that the group will be a supportive, learning team. We were also very determined to enable a wide range of people to contribute to the work and direction of the Town Team. Our shared overall picture was of offering some “scaffolding” for the Town Team – being strong when needed and stepping back when we’re not.

Thanks to Rachel for providing the inspiration, Hella (who only came to make the tea, but couldn’t resist joining in), Sally, Jenny, Roy, Natalie and Jan who now make up the facilitation team. You’ll have the chance to experience us in action at the working group meeting on 25th July. And, if you’d like to join the facilitation group, we’d love to have you. Email with Facilitation Network as the subject.

Michelle Virgo


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One Response to Biscuits and Scaffolding: Liskeard Facilitation Network

  1. Lynette Rule says:

    The facilitation group sounds like an incredibly good idea….and an essential one at that!
    [If big businesses, Central and local governments all had such groups, the country
    wouldn’t be in the mess it seems currently to be in.]

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