Whether you facilitate in person or online, effective facilitation is founded on good process design, core facilitator practices for guiding the group, and appropriate techniques to gather participant contributions. The facilitation diamond process is the standard structure that informs how to design all group work to follow a natural arc of collaborative conversation.
Does Your Meeting Design Have "Good Bones"?
Facilitating Group Work from Divergent to Convergent Thinking
As a facilitator of any collaborative group work, your main task is always the same. You are seeking to find the best way to guide group members through an appropriate collective learning and work process to achieve your session purpose. The facilitation diamond process ensures your meeting design will have “good bones” – a solid structure that supports tapping the full potential of group member experience, knowledge, ideas and wisdom for good results
In our blog on The Promise and Challenge of Collaboration, we saw that superior outcomes can only be realized when diverse group members are able to learn from each other for a fuller understanding of the whole situation or system.
No matter what size group you're facilitating, no matter if you're facilitating in person, or virtually, and no matter the sector that you're working in - whether it's government, business, community education, following the facilitation diamond process before your session or workshop will help you appropriately design the:
Development of a shared base of information and understanding where all participants can contribute their unique piece of the puzzle. This divergent thinking phase builds common ground for subsequent collaborative work.
Exploration of commonalities and differences, and seeking new patterns and relationships from all the data, from which new insights, answers and solutions may emerge. This middle lateral thinking phase requires opening to new possibilities, integration of diverse views and synthesizing into new wholes. At the best of times, this creative process can be uncertain and a bit messy - creativity often is. New thinking and novel ideas are not instantly guaranteed and can take time to emerge. Don't rush past this phase!
Convergence of the group's work into top responses, most promising directions, and inclusive and innovative ideas. The final convergent thinking phase is when the group harvests the results of their collaborative efforts. Even if it is only a summary of the work completed in a session, closure is key for the group to feel a sense of accomplishment and momentum.
Interested in learning more? If you lead collaborative projects and groups, take our free webinar – Facilitate Like A Pro: Go Beyond Discussion on Zoom and Lead Productive Online Group Work and get the 5 critical steps to planning any successful work session.