Facilitation is a complex and nuanced skill that requires a deep understanding of group dynamics, effective communication, and problem-solving. While there are many tools available for other aspects of organizational development and team collaboration, relatively few tools specifically support facilitation. We believe there are four primary reasons why this is the case:
#1. A highly contextualized practice. Facilitation is a highly contextualized practice, as effective techniques and skills may not be transferable across different contexts. This challenge of contextual variance presents a significant hurdle in creating a digital tool that would be universally applicable to all facilitators. Additionally, given the improvisational nature of facilitation, the need to adapt to evolving situations and dynamics in real-time poses a further challenge in replicating this situational awareness and flexibility within a digital tool.
#2. A soft skill. Facilitation skills are typically considered soft skills and are often deemed subjective and challenging to quantify, which can diminish their appeal as targets for tool development. Furthermore, given the erroneous perception that anyone can facilitate, there may be a lesser demand for tools to support the facilitation process.
#3. A part-time job. Facilitation is often a part-time role, with many facilitators being tasked with leading workshops, meetings, or training sessions as part of their primary job responsibilities. As such, there may be limited appetite to invest in tools specifically designed for facilitators, as facilitation may be viewed as a secondary or supporting skill rather than a core competency.
#4. A new and evolving field. Facilitation is an evolving field due to the constantly changing nature of work, education, and communication in the digital age. With remote work and virtual collaboration on the rise, new facilitation techniques and tools are needed to support these modes of interaction. Moreover, the advancements in technology and the latest research on group dynamics and decision-making have also contributed to the evolution of facilitation practices.
While there are many tools available to support collaboration and organizational development, there are relatively few tools specifically designed for facilitators. The contextualized nature of facilitation, its status as a soft skill, the perception of facilitation as a part-time role, and the evolving nature of the field are all factors that contribute to this situation. While these challenges represent some of the reasons why no tools exist specifically for facilitators, they are also the reasons why we at Meahana see opportunity.
Stay tuned, more to come on this topic.