Facilitating at Wortley Hall in 2018

@chris made an excellent suggestion at Wortley Hall this year - on the facilitation for 2018. The suggestion, as I understand it, is that more people from CoTech put themselves forward as potential facilitators, even those who wouldn’t currently be completely confident about facilitating such an event.

I think this is a great idea because it would continue the move towards facilitation coming from inside the group. And at the same time provide an opportunity for valuable skills development for CoTech members.

@laura, @Sion and I talked about this briefly and would, in principle, be happy to support those people - perhaps by helping them find some suitable ‘training’. Pethaps by sharing the backstory behind this year’s facilitation. And possibly, assuming we are there, giving some backup support at the event itself.

So, if this sounds interesting - if you think you might like to develop your facilitation, and use those skills in a very practical way - please drop one of us a line (email, DM, whatever).

Once we know who is interested we will work out what to do next.


A cool idea! I raised my hand on the day and have commented over on Loomio. I’m based in Rotterdam but will be over each month to London to meet Aptivate people, so maybe it could work. If too much overhead, I can skip. I’m just generally interested in learning more about facilitation and it seems like a good way to do it.


Yes we could be interested to support this, but also don’t want to lose the value of participating in the event when there are only currently 2 of us - which might mean it makes more sense for the larger coops to have someone facilitating.


I’d also like to be part of this (although I’m aware of a few conflicting posts/ideas such as the Loomio proposal for organisers, and the network coordinator role which includes organising WH - I know that’s not happening right now but just wanted to flag).

@annie I think it would be good to have rotating facilitators so that they could also participate as attendees in sessions of their choice.

My preference would be for training to be delivered by a co-operative.


That’s great Kayleigh. And you are right, there are several conflicting posts/ideas - lots of uncertainty! :slight_smile:

I think there are two main, complementary routes to learning to facilitate in an uncertain world.

One is more concerned with inner, personal work, and group process work.
The other route is perhaps more focussed on methods and techniques.

Most of the organisations I know who do the former are configured as not for profits of various kinds - eg the Tavistock, the Institute of Group Analysis, Systems Centred Training, The Gestalt Centre, Process Work Institute etc. Many people involved in ‘training’ people in this way are, of course, also in private practice and/or in private businesses (with aims more than making profit) etc.

The Art of Hosting is a good example of an organisation which I think is more focussed on methods and tools. http://www.artofhosting.org/ From their web page: “The Art of Hosting network has no formal, legal structure, no appointed leader, no accreditation program and no controlling body. It is based on a practitioner network, with local communities of practice; it is committed to learning and generous with its sharing and support.”

Perhaps others know of ‘training’ organisations who are coops - Seeds for Change, for example? Perhaps others can add more?

BTW I am not sure that training is even the right word when used in relation to learning to facilitate. Would be good to hear from others especially @Sion @laura


PS http://www.processwork.edu/

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Without wanting to offend any facilitators, I still feel that we might think about modelling these events more closely on business meetings than outreach events.

If a £10m business got all its group reps together they wouldn’t have check-in circles and post-its, they’d have working groups with clear objectives for the event and the year ahead.

E.g. all the tech leads would work out what savings/opportunities there were for sharing/aligning tech and would put a business plan together for making their recommended changes; the people interested in governance would review the issues from the past year, make suggested updates to the documents, etc.


I think there is a balance @harry. You are right getting the job or task done is very important.

But without some focus on the way work gets done little of any consequence would ever be achieved, IMHO.

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@harry it sounds like you are expressing your preference about the kind of meeting you would like to have. That will be useful input for next year.

A good example of the work of the facilitators - which is what I think this thread is about - is to be involved in helping decide what is the most appropriate way to accomplish the task.

For example, it depends whether the purpose of the meeting is to work out what savings/opportunities there are and create an operational plan to achieve that. Or if the purpose is more creative - to come up with new ideas, things that have not been tried before (not business as usual). Or simply to get to know each other, build relationships, enable future working and collaboration.

Or perhaps the aim is a combination of all three. The facilitators art is to be sensitive to these different needs, and facilitate the process whatever that might be.

It is clearly a different approach if the task is operational, or if it is creative, or purely about developing relationships. And often these needs are unclear, uncertain (as Kayleigh mentioned), or change as a session develops.

It is also rare in my experience for everyone involved in any event to share the same aims - so that also needs to be carefully negotiated to avoid the people with the loudest voices having most sway over how things play out.

Having the confidence to cope and adapt under those circumstances requires, in my view, considerable personal work and great group awareness. And an extensive knowledge of tools and techniques. That is what is involved in learning to facilitate.


I think you raise a very good point, Harry, but without heading down a rabbit hole one of the issues we are having to deal with is transaction costs The issue is here is that we are not simply a business. This is not to we should not say that we shouldn’t work out what savings/opportunities there were for sharing/aligning tech as you say, but rather that this would be something a little different from working within a single structure. i.e. we are not a single firm and that is part of our nature.
On a practical bent, when Pete asked how we envisaged matters in three months time on the Thursday morning, this made me think it would be useful to have a review of the progress we have made by then.
For myself I am ready to commit to spending 1 hr a day, five days a week, on the wiki - by which I mean primarily curating the wiki rather than just expressing my views - until the end of February. I understand that someone else is agreeing/has agreed to handle the emails 'til then. No doubt there are other tasks which need to be picked up.
I think if we have a review then we should be able to see to what extent - or perhaps more importantly - how - we could implement the sort of thing you are suggesting.


I know what you mean about transaction costs @Leutha but I think we might not be as badly off as you think.

Many corporate structures make the business units/departments etc. quite independent, and the incentives (empire building, bonuses) often do not encourage collaboration. Certainly sacrificing your own unit to help another would be anathema in many companies.

As worker co-operatives committed to making a better, fairer society we actually have a non-zero-sum common cause, and it doesn’t matter too much where the money is being accumulated and spent within the network (as long as we do share common cause). I think we might quite quickly find we’re more united than your average mid-to-large sized company

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Actually, Harry, I think potentially we are in a very strong position in this regard. However, I do think we need to do more than replicate a traditional business meeting (maybe you had something more “outlandish” in mind?) in that I think the means that we need to realise that potential have yet to be created.

As regards objectives for the year ahead, I am in complete agreement with you, and feel that that is something we need to address, hence my proposal to have a review of where we are 3 months after Wortley i.e. they end of February.

If we can get some initial consensus around that, I would be encouraged to propose further reviews at the end of May and the end of August . . . but lets go one step at a time.

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I think I agree with Leutha’s proposal to have a review of where we are, at some interval after Wortley and perhaps later time(s) in the year.

This isn’t something that needs to be repeated every year, perhaps, but I think right now CoTech’s in the middle stages of its creation (norming?)


Thought this might be of interest to potential facilitators - especially if you are interested in tools and techniques. The Healthy Power Alliance is running a series of sessions on a set of meeting tools called ‘Liberating Structures’.

“We are continuing our study group on Liberating Structures (LS) – an open source toolkit of 33 simple processes that anyone can learn. They promise to foster lively participation in groups of any size, and to make it easy to include and unleash everyone in shaping a decision.”


Here’s what looks like a pretty good introduction to facilitation, a bit different from the Art Of Hosting approach.

I mention this one because Roffey is a charity and has a fairly good track record I think with alternative businesses and not-for-profits. I am not sure but there might even be special rates or bursaries available. (“Roffey Park continues to support less well off organisations, including charities, both through preferential pricing on programmes and gifted work.”).

By the way, just for the avoidance of any doubt, when Sion, Laura and I offered to support people who wanted to learn to facilitate, and take on the facilitation at Wortley Hall, we were making the offer completely pro-bono. There was never, I believe, any idea in our minds that we would get paid in any way for such work. I hope nobody assumed otherwise, but just wanted to make that clear.

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I did this a few years back. The Audergon’s are great and it’s a good introduction to the art rather than the science of facilitation http://www.processworkuk.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018-19-October-Processwork-Intensive-2018-v21-APril-y-pdf.pdf

Lots of interesting people on it too, working in diverse fields.

Here’s another good one SCT at York 2018.pdf (373.9 KB)

I know also that there are people in here who are interested in developing their facilitation skills.

So I thought I would expand a little on the above list of options. Obviously, everyone has to find their own route through, and make their own decisions about how to train and develop themselves. (Caveat emptor). But maybe I can suggest some criteria for deciding how to train.

I am sure others will have good criteria too - so please add them here.

Personally, I would suggest considering:

  • your aims - how do you think you might end up using your skills - in a mainstream business environment, or in a more cooperative, alternative environment
  • your interests - are you more drawn towards the inner, personal work, and group process work? Or methods and techniques?
  • the cohort - what kinds of people will be on the courses
  • the research or evidence base - some have years of research behind them, some much less
  • the aims of the organisations doing the training - eg for profit, not-for-profit
  • practicalities - location and fee (obvs)
  • the format - introductory courses range from 2 day and 5/6 day residentials through to weekly evening meetings for an academic year
  • numbers on the courses - ranging from small group practice (5/6 people) up to large group trainings of 60 or 80 people
  • accreditation - do you want and need it?

I would also strongly suggest:

  • doing some reading first (nearly all these organisations publish books and papers which will give you a sense of the orientation and approach)
  • talk to someone from the organisation and try to get a sense of who will be there, if you have the time ask to talk to people who have been on the trainings before
  • if you can, do a taster day or session - although these won’t always be indicative - particularly the more in-depth things can take a bit of getting used to!
  • trust your instincts - if it seems right do it.

Here’s another good introductory course - different format, not residential, a mixture of academic and practical study - aimed at developing facilitator awareness.

This one is in Oxford but it is run in other locations too.


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Nice brief article introducing what it means to be a facilitator. (The date is wrong BTW).


Hi All,

So following yesterdays community call @felix @aaron and myself thought that Manchester to potentially be a great area for the meet this year.
I have suggested Federation House as a basis for the event and would be happy to help organise and make enquiries into setting this up if others would be happy for me to do so, I would obviously like to engage and work with @polly who is the queen of event organisation :slight_smile: in pootentially making manchester the place to be!
I have spoken with Coops UK today surrounding supporting this and am awaiting for someone to come back to me with some contacts - for more info on federation house see: thefederation.coop which is run by Coop Digital, please also feel free to look back over yesterdays notes: https://pads.weareopen.coop:9001/p/cotech-community-call

Federation House has more than needed capacity and would be a great choice.

What do people think, what are their concerns e.t.c - answers on a postcard :slight_smile: