Change - Strategic Facilitation

by Tony Mann

Strategic facilitation – the context

Strategic facilitation is an extension of operational or tactical facilitation. Tactical facilitators tend to work within the confines of a single workshop (to achieve a specific outcome). The strategic facilitator acts at a strategic level, designing and facilitating a series of events/workshops that have their origin in a strategic context.

For strategic facilitators to gain credibility at the strategic level – and here we are talking about board level, programme management, product launch or change management – they need to bring something additional, extra and different to the party.

What are strategic facilitators?

Strategic facilitators are not ‘consultants’, nor are they ‘coaches’ or ‘trainers’. So what are they and what do they do? And how can we differentiate them from these other roles?

Consultants

Consultants are paid to bring solutions and to report on the recommended way forward. If we think for a moment about the TV Programme Dragon’s Den: the applicants want the dragons’ specialist expertise. They don’t want training or to be coached.

Coaches

Coaches tend to work in a one-to-one or small group context, helping people with their own performance and helping them think through the way they need to behave, act or work.

Trainers

Trainers impart knowledge and help delegates develop skills and learn new things that will help them execute their roles. They will have developed robust methods of teaching that can be replicated over and over again.

Strategic facilitators

Strategic facilitators bring ‘strategic process’ to bear on any given situation. They design a way for an organisation to do the following:

  • Tackle a problem
  • Develop solutions
  • Create new ideas
  • Design a process to deliver a strategic pathway.

The emphasis is on the strategic process being put in place. The strategic facilitator does NOT bring technical/specialist knowledge and is not there to teach. So strategic facilitators do not get involved in the change agenda itself – they leave that to the managers/leaders. Their primary interest is in the strategic process.