Content fatigue. It is starting to rear its ugly head among my colleagues. Our new corporate structure – 6 months young – is one that has organised our 50 or so facilitators into content streams. Operationally efficient and customer centric, the streams also give a credible opportunity to deepen pockets of expertise to support our business. An overall improvement. The flip-side is the effect on the professional engagement and development of our facilitators; for some, they are running the same material each week. The risks are perilous for a profession where the energy of the person in control dictates the energy of many others.
The response? Individually and collectively, independent of structure, there are choices. Choice one, be a drone. Turn up, deliver your content, go home. If you do this you cheat yourself, you cheat your learners, you cheat your employer, you cheat your profession. Some people can be that, and the world withers a little each time.
Some people can’t be that, so choice two is to act, and lead conspicuously to build your own facilitation skill. It’s a lonely and slow process to do this by yourself, that’s why there is now a Community of Practice for Facilitation Skills where I work. A CoP needs people unhinged and passionate enough to give up potential rounds of golf to work on it. That’s me. Even better, I hate golf anyway.
What will this look like ? I’m confident enough now in the efficacy of this blog to integrate it at work. I will re-post blog entries into the new CoP, with a spine based in a Yammer group that started literally 3 evenings ago. I’ll be gathering from Twitter and the blogosphere, from my workshop experiments, from my inspiring team at work and my burgeoning involvement with the IAF. I’ll be a co-convenor dedicated to sharing stories around a metaphorical campfire.
The time is now even more so because we have a just-announced fully built facilitation skills pathway. Partially from the scoping work of a dozen colleagues 2 years ago, it has been brought to polished fruition by a manager who has kept the flame burning since then, as well as before. Bolted down in sections by the same RogenSi-delivered methodology that influenced me early on, the gaps in between can billow with gusts of coaching, shared experimentation and feedback. Idealistically, we wouldn’t need a pathway. Realistically, we do.
The other remit of the CoP will be to share all of this with the people we engage with in our workshops, meetings and sessions. Seeing the previously invisible skills of facilitation. In a Tweet-Up recently, I met Jane Hart, and she made a strong point. We are dealing with people first, before they are learners. The language is an initial component, sharing our knowledge is the next step. Facilitation is fundamentally a skill-set, and one that can be learnt by all. After the skill-set comes the mind-set. It is revelatory. It is a joy. By its own identity, facilitation needs to be open, for all, and free. The border-posts have been abandoned. The Yammer group is public, not private. The razor–wire is removed. This is the professional development aspect of social business.
While all this is permanent, it will not stand still. It’s going to grow with the people who form it, with the organisation it helps, with the profession it belongs to. If that isn’t something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.