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Welcome to Facilitation Stories, where we discover how facilitators ended up in the profession, and how facilitation methods, principles and techniques are used more widely. Brought to you by IAF England and Wales. For more information on our chapter, click here.

Mar 15, 2022

In this episode Pilar welcomes two guests.

First she talks to Adrian Ashton.  They start talking about Adrian’s relationship with facilitation and how over time he’s become more involved with the IAF and hosts the North of England meetup.  He talks about some of the highlights of running the group.  They’ve experimented a lot with location, themes, topics and guests.  Adrian highlights the variety of people that join the meetups but that it’s always a safe and relaxed space to reflect together.   Topics have ranged from dating to cows to spreadsheets to props.

Adrian sometimes gathers notes on the themes discussed and shares them on social media.    This amplifies and captures the learning for themselves and facilitators of the future.

They go on to talk about Adrian’s awards.  One with current pride of place is “non employee of the week” from a Facebook community “Being Freelance Friends”.  

Next Pilar and Adrian talk about the IAF Conference taking place in Birmingham, UK on 13th and 14th May.   The Leadership Team recognised how important the conference is to facilitators and that many have been wanting to reconnect and spend time together physically.  They also realised the facilitator profession has changed significantly in recent years and that hybrid is likely to become the norm so they decided to do the conference as a hybrid.  Most of the sessions will be structured to be delivered in some model of hybrid to give people a chance to decide which methods to add to their ”toolbox”.

They’re still putting the programme together and are open to proposals for running sessions. While some will be hybrid, some will be all in person/ all online and some audio only as this might be something facilitators need to work with in future, if people can’t get online.

Adrian makes a parting offer to facilitators to have a conversation to share stories and ideas as he recognises how valuable that has been for him in the past.

Next Pilar talks to Ana Neves about “Social Now”, a conference taking place in Lisbon.   Ana is a Management Consultant and Founder of KnowMan and the host and author of KMOL. Social Now is in its 9th edition, taking place on 19th and 20th May 2022.

The conference came about after Ana attended a conference in Paris about using social tools inside enterprises.  After talking to another attendee Ana realised there was a need to run an event to help people understand the tools and how they can be a part of the way organisations work. 

The format is based on a fictitious global company that experiences the “pains'' of real companies .  During the conference both vendors and consultants “advise” the fictitious company.  Vendors do a live demo following strict rules including no slides and no sales pitches. Participants have flags that they can raise if they feel vendors are going into sales mode - two flags and they have to go off stage.  Pilar observes how this brings real accountability to the audience.  

She next asks how the conference has evolved and how peer learning is facilitated. Ana reflects that as a consultant she focuses on making it a really good learning experience for participants.  This starts with sitting at round tables, with lots of natural light.  Ana feels much of the learning happens between speakers and during breaks so they take long coffee and lunch breaks, have good food and go out for dinner together at the end of day one.  

They also have a live “peer assist” where Ana poses as one of the employees in the fictitious company and asks peers to share their experiences and ideas for a project her character is starting.  After this there is a table exercise to collect a list of dos and don’ts for the fictitious company which the participants can take back to their own companies.

Pilar reflects that the fictitious company means there are no consequences of testing creative ideas and Ana acknowledges that the participants have fed back they have felt liberated as they were able to say things that they couldn’t have done in a different format.


You can find Adrian by searching online - he’s on most social media channels.

You can book for the IAFEnglandWales conference here:

You can find Ana on Twitter @ananeves  and Social Now @SocialNowEvent and you can book for Social Now here: