The first face on my touchstone cube is the Six Dimensions of Facilitation (Heron, J. 1999, p6) The six dimensions are mutually supportive of each other, interweaving and overlapping, but since a basic NLP premise is that separation precedes integration, it is helpful to distinguish each element.
The different dimensions are invaluable to consider because they answer some questions that require asking about my facilitator purpose, what I want to achieve and what is my intention. I find these questions useful throughout any intervention - before for planning the intervention, during to stay in awareness of intention and afterwards for reflective review.
The six dimensions are:
1) The Planning Dimension = Prescriptive
This is the prescriptive activity of determining the ends and means of the intervention where, as the facilitator, I may find myself in a position of political authority. Decisions such as the nature of the objectives, the programme, contents, methodology, resources, evaluation etc. are important - and generally requiring visibility with a client.
2) The Meaning Dimension = Informative
The area of cognitive learning for participants. How do I facilitate their understanding of their learning and making sense of what is going on? This is cognition on a number of levels - the task, the process of the group and the learning process and generally I find that the deep this penetrates, the more the learning "sticks" and the more likelihood there is that behaviour will change for the long term.
3) The Confronting Dimension - Challenging
How much do I challenge? When? How? - and why? (back to "what is my intention?" above). Am I brave enough to interrupt things, interpret or hold up a mirror for the group? What blocks will we encounter in each other's anxieties, defences, oppressions? How willing am I to surface the issues being avoided? the "elephant in the room", to mention the unmentionable? What do I know about beforehand and how much is that colouring my view of what is actually happening in the moment? Is the challenge part of my plan or completely off-piste? How much do I want to raise the group's consciousness, and how much do they want to raise their own consciousness? Am I elegantly holding the boundary, tiptoing around it or stamping it into the ground?
4) The Feeling Dimension = Cathartic
How are feelings and emotions within the group to be managed? How will the groups consciousness of feelings be brought into the life of the group? The balance between negative and positive, changing states and switching dynamics, introducing exercises and activities to create a balanced flow, opening and ending ceremonies, honouring feelings within the learning process and allowing space for safe catharsis, celebtration, acknowldegement and moving out of stuckness.
5) The Structuring Dimension =Catalytic
Here, the facilitative question is all about the formal aspects - what methods of learning shall I use? How will I structure the group's learning? What should I take account of in the environment and supervision of it? What exercises, activities, methods and models will I use? What is the group composition? Do I pre-plan or go with the here and now?
6) The Valuing Dimension = Supportive
I love this area of questionning - how do I create or co-create a climate in which people can be their genuine, empowered, real selves? A place of personal value, integrity and respect that honours people for their authenticity and contribution in the moment. The acid question for me is how to do this for myself first as I will then lead the way. If I hide and deny my own vulnerability, if I do not treat myself with respect and integrity, then how do I create a space in which others are able to break through into a new place for their own development?
That is the first purpose of my cube - to act as a reminder to treat these interfaces as a reverse hierarchy and begin at the bottom - with valuing. From there I can work upwards to finish with planning. The quality of my planning improves a thousandfold when I work from the platform of valuing. I spent so many years doing it the other way round.
So - where is valuing in your planning agenda?
In the next blog, I will cover another facet of the cube - the three modes of facilitation and the politics of learning.