Throughout the world there are a numerous cases of these sorts of ideas being put into practice. Citizen Juries, Wisdom Councils, Open Space Technology, World Cafes and even the occasional glimpse of demarchy (democracy based on random selection).
Such ideas and practices are vitally needed in a world that faces serious issues such as climate change, massive inequalities, reduction in biodiversity, increasing tension, terrorism and war.
One common objection to more ordinary citizens making public decisions is that ordinary citizens do not have the necessary political, diplomatic or dialogue skills to take part.
Appropriate facilitation and mediation are sometimes cited as doorways that can open up the wisdom and insight of ordinary citizens. An exciting framework and technique arises when these two practices (facilitation and mediation) are brought together. Dynamic Facilitation is what Jim Rough names the process.1
|Source: Codice Tuna (Creative Commons)|
How to Manual?
How does a Dynamic Facilitator undertake their role? Perhaps the best Manual that I have seen is that produced by Rosa Zubizaretta.
Rosa begins with a brief and useful history of Dynamic Facilitation and outlines some of the similarities and differences between Dynamic Facilitation and other facilitation methods. She then goes on to describe the Dynamic Facilitators role and the stages of a Dynamic Facilitation session.
Rosa describes each aspect thoroughly using key points and anecdotes that help to fully explain the roles, purpose, process and skills.
For those of us who have used facilitation skills and techniques for many years there are some habits that we would need to unlearn in order to become Dynamic Facilitators. The most significant of these is to let go the notion that the purpose of facilitating a group is to enable the group to arrive at a consensus decision. Dynamic Facilitation actively seeks out divergence, diversity and complexity.
Graphically, traditional facilitation could be seen as slowly narrowing the discussion towards a “point of agreement”. Dynamic Facilitation, on the other hand, could be symbolised as broadening the dialogue widely and divergently thus enabling something new and creative to spontaneously emerge from within the space.
In today’s world and communities within it, everything is so inter-connected that no-one of us can hope to even get a glimpse of “the fullness of reality”. We must discover ways to collaborate and that means that we must tap into our collective wisdom. Dynamic Facilitation is a powerful technique that just might provide us with the key to doing so.
Rosa recognises this and in her Introduction to the manual states that “the challenges we face as a species in our world today call us to share our tools as freely as we can…”
He manual can be obtained from her website: www.diapraxis.com
If you can, get along to one of her, or Jim Rough’s, training workshops. I’m keeping a lookout for a workshop Downunder.
1. Jim Rough has trademarked the term Dynamic Facilitation to ensure consistency of usage.