Facilitator as disruptor II

19 January 2010 0 By Viv McWaters

Back in 2008 (that long ago!) I wrote about the facilitator as disruptor. This has captured my attention again.

Then, I wrote about the role of a facilitator as a the ‘trickster’, now I’m considering the role as ‘circuit breaker’.

It seems to me that a lot of facilitation is about breaking patterns – patterns of behaviour, of thinking, of responding. And increasingly I’m being asked to ‘explore alternatives’ – whatever that means. The danger, of course, is to fall into the trap of the Curse of Knowledge – that insidious place we find ourselves when we’re competent at something and are needing to explain it to a novice. The Curse of Knowledge affects me when I have to explain something and just can’t find the words or the process or the description. It’s frustrating, cos it’s second nature to me. I have to remind myself to think like a novice and try to remember what it was like not to know. And that’s the problem. It’s really hard to remember what it’s like not to know. Try to imagine what it was like not knowing how to drive or ride a bicycle.

That’s why it’s easiest to facilitate something I know little about, and I think it’s why in-house facilitators sometimes have such a tough time. The Curse of Knowledge works both ways – they provide way too much information and details (just to prove how much they DO know) and the participants expect an in-house subject matter expert to be, well, an expert. So existing patterns are reinforced.

Enter an external, or independent, facilitator. Their role is to break that pattern of thinking and feed-back so as different patterns might emerge.

And how do we do that? Well, I know how *I* do that, and I’m wondering what *you* would do?