What is Facilitation?

This is Part 1 of a short series on facilitation and its uses in organizations. As an evaluator, I sometimes use facilitation to help organizations plan and use the results of my work.

Over the past several years, facilitation has become a popular word and concept in organizations. We are asked to “facilitate” meetings or processes or introductions. It’s become a bit of a junk term, with unclear definitions. Just what does facilitation mean?

“Facile” is the root word of facilitation, and according to Merriam-Webster Online, a synonym for facile is “easy.” In other words, facilitation at its most basic means to “make easy.” In the context of organizations, it is a different thing than training, teaching, or managing.

The facilitator is not part of the group, but is tasked with helping the group come to a decision. This is key, because groups are much more likely to implement decisions when everyone in the group has a sense of buy-in and commitment to the decision. An equation you can use to describe facilitation is:


where ED=Effective Decision; RD=Right Decision; CD=Commitment to Decision.

Facilitation is a widely useful set of tools. In future posts I’ll be exploring ways to take these tools and apply them for organizational effectiveness, especially when you want to make changes.

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