rotating facilitation
From: Lynn Nadeau / Maraiah (
Date: Fri, 12 Aug 2011 19:13:17 -0700 (PDT)

On Aug 12, 2011, at 4:04 PM, cohousing-l-request [at] wrote:

 Here we rotate the meeting
organizing/facilitation task for instance
Amidst a useful discussion of tactics to deal with declining participation, this little phrase called to me for a response. It's off the declining-participation topic, so I retitled it.

In over 20 years of consensus-based meeting, in my opinion just about the least successful experiment we ever tried was rotating facilitation! In the early years we went through a period when we took turns facilitating meetings. Just as there are specific skills called for in a treasurer, minute taker, or garden manager, facilitation is a specific skill and some people are lacking in that skill. Unskilled facilitation can lead to wasting the whole group's time, and various unhappy feelings, or worse.

At RoseWind, anyone who wants to facilitate can join the facilitation team and get mentored into it, usually by managing just a part of a meeting. But mainly we rely on people who have proven skills.

In a later period, we rotated among a "pool" of qualified facilitators. But then Rob Sandelin visited us and made a recommendation which has now served us well for more than ten years: instead of a pool of facilitators, we have a TEAM of facilitators. They meet twice a month. Before the monthly whole-group meeting, they meet and take the list Steering has sent them of items which have been seasoned through discussion circles etc, of items that are ready for a monthly meeting, They work out the best arrangement of the agenda, and any additional bits, like check in, consensus training bits, soap box, and so on. In addition, they strategize, when appropriate, as to the best techniques for success with given proposals. If contention is expected, how will it be dealt with most smoothly and productively?

During the meeting, two or three facilitators might each lead a topic. But if there's a glitch and things seem stuck, the facilitators may call a short break and caucus to decide what to do next.

After the meeting, usually a few days after, they meet again to see if there is anything to be learned from how it went.

Steering also meets twice, mid month to look at anything that's "up" and take a look at what came out of the monthly meeting, as needing next steps, or what is new and needing some process guidance. And again to decide what to recommend for the agenda, and what needs advance notice sent out.

There are lots of jobs that anyone can do adequately, or that do little harm if not done well, but in our experience we really have had good results with a steady team of facilitators, and a Steering Committee that is selected by a Nominating task force, and affirmed by the group, for staggered two-year terms.

Maraiah Lynn Nadeau
RoseWind Cohousing
Port Townsend WA where it's sunny and COOL and the vegetable garden is gorgeous

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