Thursday, August 4, 2011

In a human process intervention, whose Goal is it anyway?

One day, my boss posed me a great question. "Whose goal should we be seen to endorse when asked for an intervention?" I realised then that he asked me that question to know what the fate of a relationship with a peer would be post intervention. That boss in the line organisation is a different one, motivated differently than a developmental professional. Fundamentally, he was asking me - what should be the goal of facilitation itself? Should the goal be biased towards the goals of the developmental professional or towards the line organisation boss, who seems to be on top of the power balance? Typically a classical dilemma for the 'internal' consultant.

Here're my views to such a dynamic.
1. Qualify your contract : Get the sponsor to understand, that the process that both enter into is mutual and requires authenticity from both sides. Any covert act of malafide intent will defeat the purpose in the course of time. Set expectations as to what the facilitator and the sponsor as leader would do to build and secure the commitment to the process.
2. Set Protocols : When in doubt, keep place for an arbitrator.  Both facilitator and sponsor agree that this arbitrator commands respect for independence in opinion. Legalize the arbitrator role and identity within the contract, if the sponsor is a symbol of risk. A healthy contract is more psychological and built on trust anyway.
3. Respect Dynamism in Groups : When done effectively, facilitation encourages disclosure which begets confrontation. Facilitate constructive confrontation of reality. Encourage courage in expression, and that will beget health in the group. Prospects that the group will face will sharply diverge in flashes that catch both sponsor and participant unawares. Respect that dynamism, go with the flow there and watch the thinking that is set in motion. Your goal is to surface the repressed unconscious of the group.

4. Value Closure : Movement towards credible lines of action is a great source of strength. Anchoring the closure of the facilitation with responsibilities that emerged from the process is great as a finshing act. Voluntary ownership is great, but watch out for impulsive acts of bravado in the euphoria of process. Distinguish the mature accountability of voluntarism from the juvenile breaking through from constraints.  Help with facilitative questions that encourage participants to deal with their unfinished business. Closure should inspire confidence, not merely to be remembered for the shock value or surprise from process. That is not where it ends in any case.
5. Wrap-Up with Sponsor : Get the sponsor(s) to verbalize what he or she or they experienced. Their reflections have a generative capacity beyond their presence in the group's process. It is a closure beyond the group that furthers the magic in the process. Choose in context, whether such is better done in private. This is super-ordinate process that ratifies your goal in the process. If both you and the sponsor meet your places of inner knowing in new ways, a deeper transformation will have taken place for both. Of course, it matters most for the artist in you that the client experiences and acknowledges transformation if you have led the facilitation effectively.

Irrespective of us deciding therefore, the line organisation client has a goal anyway. Facilitation is value added when the climate for spontaneous expression is made available through conversations. These cut through the messiness of face-saving tendencies, learnt helplessness and untested doubts. Happy to hear from facilitators of process work. Interventions have such a myriad hue. Love to learn from you.

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