A third party, objective facilitator who is trained in proven, outcome-driven facilitation techniques exponentially increases the success of your meeting or workshop, especially if a topic is complex, you need to build rapport or consensus, if it's critical to mine innovative thinking, you need to move an initiative or concept forward, or when you're undertaking planning--whether Strategic Planning, Project Planning, Action Planning or Annual Planning.
An outside facilitator allows all company or organization representatives, including leadership, to participate equally. A trained, third-party facilitator also takes the inside politics out of the process and keeps the conversation objective, realistic, inclusive, participatory and responsive.
A facilitator is different than a meeting planner, which typically is someone who takes care of the logistics of putting together an event. A facilitator is also different than an emcee, who may put together an agenda and keep a meeting or event moving, but is not there specifically to guide the group through a participatory, outcome-driven, proven process in which they have been trained. Finally, a facilitator is different than a consultant in that a consultant gathers information and then tells you, based on experience and expertise, what to do, whereas a facilitator’s role is to bring out the wisdom and expertise of the group to find the answers.
A savvy executive knows to engage a facilitator early on in the process, because part of the role of facilitator is to listen to your goals, concerns, needs and challenges and then custom-design a process to address them, drawing from experience and a vast toolkit of proven methods.
You don’t need the facilitator to be an expert in your industry; what you need is someone who is an expert in facilitation; i.e.,
MK Communication Strategies Principal Maggie Kuhn and her facilitation associates are deeply experienced professionals and are trained in the Technology of Participation (ToP)® methodology of facilitation.
According to the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), the ToP (Technology of Participation) Facilitation ® methodology is an integrated set of facilitation methods and tools to solicit stakeholder input and synthesize it into actionable outcomes for development. ToP methods are used to foster collaboration in visioning, decision making, and action.
The structured process allows groups to think, talk and work together with the objective of gaining consensus on where they actually are now as a community or organization, why and how they got there, where they would like to be, and what they will do together to help them get to where they need to go.
The ToP method is designed to help businesses, communities and organizations: