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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 9, 2021

In today's episode, Helene Jewell talks to Lindsay Sumner and Simon Wilson about the IAF's Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF) assessment process and how it has moved online.

Lindsay Sumner (CPF M) is the  IAF Director of Certification Operations. She shares with Helene her own certification process, which was a testing one! The process continues to test facilitators skills and processes. There is writing, interviewing and observation involved. 

CPF is an in-depth peer review of their facilitation knowledge, experience, skills and practice. It's a multi-staged process which takes about three months. The IAF's philosophy is "test to pass", that is, that everyone is given a fair opportunity to show their skills. 

Stage 1 involves reviewing the documentation. If there is not enough evidence yet, they won't be invited to Stage 2. 

What about becoming a CPF Master?
Once you are a CPF, you can re-certify by writing about your practice over the last four years, to show that you are still facilitating, and learning and growing within the profession. You need to demonstrate that you are sharing, teaching and mentoring around the profession. What are you giving back etc. 

The challenge with moving the certification process online was how to keep it in line with the in-person version, while changing the format. For example, splitting the process up so that it didn't run over a day.

Another challenge was whether the IAF competencies would also be as visible. The certification team workshopped the competencies by running workshops online and noticing whether different competencies were required. Throughout the process they found that the same set of competencies are visible (and required) as online. (More on this later when Helene talks to Simon.)

Another thing to take into account when facilitating online is the technology, but the technical competence is not assessed. However, you need to be competent at a technical level, or else it's difficult be confident, and focus on the facilitation practice. Lindsay talks about the set of protocols they have designed  around the technical side, to free up candidates to focus on the facilitation.  

Are there benefits to doing the certification process online? It means the process can be more accessible, but there are still people struggling with technology. For now, online assessments will will be running once a month. 

Lindsay talks about the endorsed facilitator programme - an online exam and a written paper. Keep your eyes open for that one! 

They're also looking to widen the pool of assessors, especially to be able to offer the programme in other languages (could that be you, listener?). The assessment is currently offered in English and Mandarin and has been taken through simultaneous translation. The online space is offering a lot of possibilities! 

You can email Lindsay:
Connect with her on LinkedIn.

26.10 mins 
Our second guest (and returning guest to the show!) is Simon Wilson, a CPF and current CPF assessor (since 2013), who talks about the assessment process in more depth.

Simon explains the assessment process: 4 assessors + a technical process manager. 1 assessor plays the role of the client, one as a participant and two observers. 

When Simon was the guinea pig in the first online assessment, playing the part of the faciliator, the others were able to identify the IAF competencies. 

The barriers of doing the session online are similar to those we might come across if we have to travel to an unfamiliar room. In the online environment it's more difficult to assess how someone interacts directly with a group by for example, reading their body language. On the other hand, it's easier to pay attention to how they set up a task. 

The groups' activity also becomes more clear. From the assessor's point of view, there is also a recording you could refer back to! 

As an assessor , you have to reset your parameters when assessing online - spatial information and body language for example, is missing. However, those involved in moving the assessment online were able to adapt to the online space. A CPF is a CPF, regardless of whether the assessment takes place online or in person. 

Helene asked Simon for advice to those thinking of taking the assessment. Simon says: give it a go online! It might be more convenient - unless the online space really puts you off. All you need to use is Zoom and GoogleDocs (think of it as your "blank canvas"), but this is a test of your facilitation competences, not your ability to use the tech.

At the same time, as you would bring post-it notes (peel them left to right!), pipe cleaners, Lego etc to your assessment in person, you can bring other tools to your assessment - at your own risk! 

As an assessor, it's great to travel to an assessment site, but the online space does save you the travel time! 

You can connect with Simon on Twitter: @WilsonSherriff 

And let Helene know you're listening: -@HeleneJewell

@IAFEnglandWales; use #iafpodcast
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