The art of facilitation

Two weeks ago I attended a 2-days workshop with other 70 people and I started to realize how important is the role of facilitation.

In particular, talking with the lady who was in charge of the facilitation process during those two days I came to know an interesting technique called ‘Deep Democracy’. Reading about the methodology I was surprised to discover how big the common ground between this and the service design is.
Deep Democrary was developed in South Africa by Myrna Lewis and her late husband Greg and it is closely related to the American psychologist Arnold Mindells’ process-orientated psychology.
There are a variety of reasons why people in a group may not be saying what they really think. Perhaps it is considered taboo, politically incorrect, or too sensitive, or they may just feel that they will never actually be heard and able to influence the majority view of the group. Deep Democracy is based on the assumption that there is a wisdom in the minority voice and in the diversity of viewpoints, which has value for the whole group. The approach helps to surface and give expression to what is otherwise left unsaid. Conflict is seen not as something to be avoided, but as an opportunity for learning and change. The earlier a conflict is expressed and spoken about in the open, the less painful it will be.
A key aspect of Deep Democracy is that the process focuses on roles and relationships rather than on individuals. The whole process could be summarise by ‘the iceberg metaphor’ in which the facilitator is the one who works to help the group to lower the waterline -consciousness- of their iceberg.
So, what the Deep Democracy aims is to use the collective intelligence to give voice to groups’ diversity and reach common solutions. It is a great tool to improve our capacity to create sustainable systems that work well for everyone involved.