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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.

Sep 15, 2020

In this episode Pilar is joined from Italy by Paolo Martinez, an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator, Leader of the IAF Italy Chapter and Partner at “Futour” who empower people and organisations to design a just, sustainable and joyful future through the power of facilitation.

They start by talking about how the Italian Chapter adapted to the early stages of COVID by organising a virtual Open Space every Saturday afternoon using Qiqochat. This “COVID free” meetup ran for 2 months usually with 4 facilitators supporting each week.

The main focus of the conversation is a survey Paolo shared in June on the IAF Slack channel, which gained 116 responses from facilitators across the globe.

(To join the IAF conversation on Slack, follow the link  )

The survey was undertaken in collaboration with Mika Aaltonen in Finland looking at how facilitation is changing as a profession. Planned prior to COVID, the survey was adapted to include changes that it has brought about.

The survey covers first people’s varied ideas on the foundations of facilitation but also their alignment on its theoretical foundations, broadly linked to the IAF Core Competencies.

It then covers ideas, articles, books and theories that facilitators rely on including the IAF Methods Library.

Paolo provides insights into how facilitators feel the profession and the World around us has changed both prior to and due to COVID. He has seen a greater a sense of being “one World”, acceleration in the use of technology and an openness and curiosity to different futures. A number of the facilitators who responded have felt refreshed by getting out of their comfort zones and have accepted the crisis as an opportunity to learn.

Paolo has also seen a much greater focus on collaboration and facilitators supporting one another, particularly those with more virtual facilitation experience assisting those with less. In the face of complex challenges, respondents are recognising the value of facilitation can be increased by working together.

From the final part of the survey, Paolo shares insights into the key skills needed in future facilitation including both facilitators and participants being more skilled at using digital tools; collecting evidence based case studies of the value of virtual facilitation; spending longer on storyboarding; giving clear instructions and running shorter sessions.

Paolo’s concluding point reflecting on the survey is that facilitation and its principles have not changed but facilitators now need more skills and tools.

The conversation shifts in its final part to a collaboration that Paolo has been involved in with Peter Lee, Founder of Video Facilitator who he also met through reference in the IAF Slack. Paolo is a licensed customer of Video Facilitator and has been providing user feedback to improve the product, including adjustments to the position and size of buttons, making improvements to security and allowing the facilitator to alter rooms “on the go”. Paolo can also now provide free support to new users of the tool.

If you like what you heard and want to know more:

To learn about Paolo’s work, take a look at the Futour website, follow them on Twitter @futour or contact Paolo on LinkedIn

If you’re curious about the tools he mentions, take a look at Qiqochat and Video Facilitator

You can also follow Pilar on Twitter @PilarOrti

To join the IAF conversation on Slack, follow the link  .

You can read up on the IAF Core Competencies here and the IAF Methods Library here

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