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Advanced collaboration relies on a skilled implementer or facilitator.  While there are a great many talented facilitators out there, most have a specific area of expertise. 

With many of our software customers seeking recommendations for the ‘right’ expert for their challenge, we’ve come up with a quick guide to help in understanding a variety of facilitation types, as well as some of their best practitioners. After all, sometimes it’s about finding the perfect tool for the job, rather than the buzziest. 

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  • Design Thinking: This well-established facilitation realm encompasses the classic IDEO  and Stanford d.School approaches, as well as Human-Centered and Template based ‘Canvas’ expertsCreative and solution based facilitation for everything from designing physical products to corporate strategies.
    • Tim Brown – CEO, IDEO is one of the most famous DT facilitators
  • Organizational Development: Alignment and structure based facilitation where experts are often classically trained and certified by numerous OD and/or OE Organizational Effectiveness groups. This group represents the largest formal sub-set of facilitators. Thousands of leadership consultants and learning & development departments are frequently experts in at least one OD facilitation method.
    • Roland Sullivan – OD practitioner for 55 years
    • Bill Gellermann – Founder OD Network (50,000 people)
  • Purpose/Principle Based: Facilitation focused on leadership, deeper conversations and participant-driven, self organization. The most widely used versions are Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, Art of Hosting, Unconference and World Cafe.
    • Harrison Owen – bestseller and early expert OST facilitator
    • Ria Baeck – global AoH steward and facilitator
  • Model Based: Rigorously adopting models, these facilitators help to achieve trans-formative change management and wicked problem solving with large groups/organizations. While there are thousands of facilitation models available, Theory U out of MIT, MG Taylor System originally out of the US Air Force, have tens of thousands of practitioners.
    • Otto Sharmer – MIT Professor, trainer of 10,000 Theory U Facilitators
    • Gail Taylor- MGT founder and Columbia peace facilitator
  • Newly Developing: As work cycles rapidly accelerate, new methodologies are being invented every day. While their roots frequently stem from other methods, they have successfully differentiated themselves enough to warrant a category. Some of the most popular in recent years are Circular, Emergent, Essentialism and Holocracy.
    • Brian Robertson – Inventor Holocracy
    • Greg McKeown – NYTimes bestseller and Essentialism inventor
  • Performance Based: With roots in ancient Japanese philosophy (inspiring Toyota production lines and the 2001 Agile Manifesto) Agile and Lean are the most popular methods for waste reduction and incremental improvements. Facilitators in these categories have not only mastered facilitating teams, but are frequently subject matter experts as well. For example, within Agile, a Scrum facilitator is often a computer programmer as well.
    • Kent Beck – founder of Agile Manifesto
    • Eric Ries – author of Lean Startup
  • Front of the Room: Although not driven by an overarching methodology, this collection of facilitators, usually taking the title of Moderator (event or panel), M.C., Speaker or Rapporteur, masterfully lead groups through a client/customer driven agenda.
    • Maria Giammarinaro – UN Special Rapporteur for human trafficking and Italian judge
    • Dan Rather – journalist and master panel moderator
  • Targeted: Trained to achieve industry-specific workflow, business requirements and change flow processes. For example, McKinsey & Accenture have excellent facilitation approaches with thousands of experts.
    • Stewart Emery – Bestselling author and facilitator of Mastercard Priceless campaign
    • Kaye Adams – BBC journalist and master facilitator
  • Behind the Scenes: Easily some of the best, though often unseen, these facilitators work their magic by designing and producing medium to large events with hundreds to thousands of participants, Frequently integrating multiple methodologies, they can sometimes cross over into event production and design.

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