007 : Being neutral doesn’t add value

Our workplaces are far more complex these days...

Our workplaces are far more complex these days while training often looks stuck in a time warp. An 80’s vision where PowerPoint still predominates and where difficult concepts are boiled down to bite sized chunks and put across to disengaged employees in 60 minute sessions which are still essentially ‘chalk and talk’. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it simply cannot go on being that way. There’s a role for Premium Facilitation. High end, bespoke and artful creative attention to business problems. Where low-rent facilitators who say, “Thanks for sharing, Bob and let’s offer that up to the rest of the group” are swiftly hooked off stage.

Being neutral or impartial cannot add value to a serious commercial project; poor project facilitation has no place in a premium offering. I’ve read too many clever papers from academics on the role of the facilitator being that of an impartial adviser or a neutral observer who makes operations and gently coerces the group from A to B. I’m at a loss! How you do that while remaining neutral? As you’re reading this, you’re already forming an opinion about what i’m typing (and you’re welcome to it), it’s human nature. Share your opinion and then we can make use of it by embracing its sentiment and using your perspective to stimulate debate, discussion and eventually decision making. such stimulus helps people get from A to B or we all sit in silence. Being neutral, isn’t being positive. And the creative process needs positive intention to get it moving. I’d argue that because you’re actively avoiding getting involved and sharing opinion, then you’re actual impact is negative…

Think about it. People are happy to share opinion in social occasions where they’re not being paid. The context is different and perhaps even their opinion isn’t welcome, so why remain neutral when your business clients have commissioned you to facilitate? Signalled up front, personal opinion, is a powerful tool that unlocks ‘the stuck’ and to spike up creative sessions. Opinion is at the heart of most conversations. There is no need to censor your mind. Facilitation is NOT coaching, so asking “what do you think you should do?” time and again, really won’t move things on. And given all the things a great facilitator has to do in prepping projects and training sessions, opinions can be offered freely and take no time to plan. Importantly opinions, thoughts and perspectives are an extension of who you are and what you stand for. That has value for any creative process. And being consistent with that over time builds a credible brand for your skill as a facilitator. Your audience will fill in the gaps – they’re bright people, they’ll work it out. If you stay neutral, with nothing to say, then you’re simply warming a seat.