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Crafting Success with the Facilitator's Mindset

Published 6 months ago • 2 min read

Crafting Success with the Facilitator's Mindset

By Hannah Baker

Dear Reader,

While we've touched on the significance of facilitation in your career journey, it's been a while since we delved into the specific components that you can apply not only in collaborative sessions but also in your everyday interactions.

Today, we're taking a deep dive into the Facilitator's Mindset.

A mindset is more than just a set of beliefs; it's the lens through which we view the world and approach our roles. This perspective is essential for facilitators, who create environments where diverse voices can converge, share ideas and co-create solutions.

The facilitator's mindset is the conscious intention to craft an environment that encourages collaboration, open dialogue, and shared understanding.

Whether you're a seasoned designer or just beginning, these principles can shape your journey.

The three parts of the facilitator's mindset that we will explore are:

  1. Building knowledge
  2. Being Neutral
  3. Staying Flexible

1. Building Knowledge

Design is not about being the authority but empowering everyone to contribute. It's like crafting a safe space where ideas flow freely, and new understandings emerge.

The essence of building knowledge lies in creating an environment where participants feel safe to share their ideas and experiences. As a facilitator, your role is to guide this collective knowledge creation.

How to do it:

  • Use Open-Ended Questions: Ask questions that ignite discussion and exploration, not simple 'yes' or 'no' queries.
  • Paraphrase for Clarity: Reflect back the larger concepts of others, ensuring their contributions are genuinely comprehended and respected.
  • Connect Ideas: Be the bridge that connects diverse ideas, creating an environment where every voice matters.

Incorporate active listening exercises, practice crafting open-ended questions, and keep a reflective journal to enhance your skills.

2. Being Neutral

In a world filled with strong opinions, a neutral stance is pivotal. When you facilitate, your focus shifts from your own views to gathering the perspectives of others. This unbiased approach encourages every voice to be heard and valued.

How to do it:

  • Use Conditional Language: Replace definitive statements with conditional terms. Instead of declaring, "This is the best approach," say, "This might be a viable approach."
  • Link Contrasting and Similar Ideas: Skillfully connect opposing and parallel thoughts from participants, promoting balanced discussions.
  • Balanced Feedback: Ensure that all viewpoints are acknowledged and valued equally.

Seek feedback from colleagues, try a third-party perspective exercise, and have a list of neutral and empathetic responses at hand for those intense discussions.

3. Staying Flexible

No plan is ever foolproof, and in the dynamic world of design, flexibility is your ally. Be prepared for the unexpected, whether it's a change in project scope or new insights during user testing.

How to do it:

  • Empathize with Your Audience: Learn to sense when flexibility is needed, adjusting your approach to cater to the team's needs.
  • Have a Backup Plan and a Backup-Backup Plan: Acknowledge that plans may need adjustments, and be ready to adapt when required.
  • Comfort with Ambiguity: Accept uncertainty and understand that as a designer, your role is to navigate unforeseen challenges.

Use time management tools, prepare contingency plans, and collect feedback after each session for ongoing improvement.

Remember, the facilitator's mindset takes practice, but these principles are not limited to facilitation alone. They can be woven into various aspects of your career journey in design, enhancing your effectiveness and making you a more valued contributor in your field.

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Until next week!

Hannah Baker
Facilitator & Co-Founder
The Fountain Institute

The Fountain Institute

The Fountain Institute is an independent online school that teaches advanced UX & product skills.

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