Facilitation as a collaborative process is a method of achieving group consensus where a third party [facilitator] assists with the consent of the group, guiding them through to a highly inclusive consensus to a problem or an opportunity. Good facilitation leans on a number of ingredients; open and inclusive listening, respect for individuals and different points of view, patience with the process, flexibility, a strong belief that synergy and overlapping goals will emerge in a committed group setting, and shared responsibility.
As a facilitator, I work as a non-coercive neutral, in a collaborative way, to enable each party or persons within each party facing a challenge or an opportunity, to better understand their own and the other's interests, concerns and realities. Based on this understanding, my goal is to help the parties negotiate a consensus or understanding that serves each party's interests better than with other options or other competing processes.
A simple comparison of competing processes follows:
Collaborative facilitation is often called 'participatory decision-making', and its success is highly dependent on its core values of full participation, mutual understandings, inclusive solutions, and shared responsibilities. A commitment to the process by all participants is necessary.
For examples of successful facilitation, see the link case studies.