What facilitators do, and why they matter
Facilitators play an essential role in the Catalyst community.
A meeting facilitator (sometimes called a “moderator”, but we are using the term “facilitator” throughout this proposal) does things like ensuring that everyone in a meeting feels welcomed, heard and valued; that everyone speaks who wants to speak; that nobody unfairly dominates the conversation; that people don’t interrupt, talk over each other, or get too heated; that the participants keep to any agenda that has been agreed, and don't go massively over time; that if the meeting is a “decision-making” one, decisions are made, that the decisions are recorded, and everyone is clear what they are and how they were arrived at (consensus, a vote, etc); and that in general, the meeting runs smoothly. In more creative or educative settings, a facilitator might also present information, or devise activities for the group to do, and guide the group through them. In smaller meetings, a person might facilitate in addition to presenting, speaking, teaching or hosting; or the facilitator might introduce other presenters or speakers.
“Facilitation” literally means “making things easier” - so a facilitator makes it easier for people to achieve the purpose of the meeting, whatever that might be.
Good facilitation makes meetings constructive and enriching, supports meaningful engagement both for new people and old hands, makes documentation of decisions easier because it is clear what has been agreed, and enables all voices to be heard. The atmosphere of consideration and mutual respect that a good facilitator creates, has a knock-on effect - it sets a tone for the whole community, and is the starting point for a collaborative, participatory ecosystem where we are able to work together.
Barriers to good facilitation in Catalyst
The importance of facilitation is not always fully recognised or supported in Catalyst. Currently, anyone who has sufficient confidence to volunteer can try their hand at facilitating; but without any skills-development or support, it is not always a great experience for either the facilitator or the participants. There are also people who would like to try facilitating, but who lack the confidence to attempt it; and with no access to learning, and no environments in which to practice, they never try. And for those who have facilitation skills already, there is no ongoing skills-development or community of practice to help them develop further, so their skills are in danger of stagnating.
Too many meetings and events in Catalyst follow the same pattern (a synchronous session on Zoom, starting with presentation of a slide deck, then a Q&A) because as a community we don’t yet have the resources to try a more diverse range of approaches (for example, fully asynchronous meetings; more widespread use of other platforms such as Twitter Spaces; more participatory, discursive sessions; more creative and innovative activities). So as a community, we are missing out on the potential for new approaches and fresh ways to address complex questions, and people’s levels of engagement in meetings can suffer. We need pathways for new facilitators to emerge, train, and practice; we need to put in place a body of knowledge on facilitation that can be passed on within the community, and can continue to grow; and we need to build an ongoing, open community of facilitators that anyone can get involved with, thus embedding good facilitation in the Catalyst culture in a sustainable way. All this would help us create meetings where everyone feels welcomed, confident and heard, and where the task of facilitation does not fall only to a few.
This proposal will:
- Recruit 3 additional trainers (in addition to the project proposers, thus making a team of 5) from within Catalyst. These will be people who already have strong facilitation skills and training skills. Recruitment will be from across the whole Catalyst ecosystem, and will aim to find training and facilitation talent that has so far not come forward because there is no pathway to do so. Initial enquiries have suggested that such people are out there, and are looking for a way to contribute their skills; so rather than starting this proposal with an already-fixed team of 5 trainers, we preferred to give an opportunity to engage some new people as well.
- This group of 5 (3 new recruits plus the proposers), will devise a 3-session Facilitation Foundation Course, aimed at beginner facilitators. The aim will be to build trainees’ confidence, teach them some basic principles of how to facilitate, and give them a “toolkit” of techniques and ideas they can use in different types of meetings, including small-group and one-to-one sessions, large meetings, discussions on complex and contentious issues, and community events. The course will emphasise practical “learning-by-doing”, and will train facilitators to be able to support participation and engagement in meetings.
- Deliver this Facilitation Foundation Course to 2 cohorts of 10 people recruited from across the Catalyst ecosystem
- Support / mentor the 20 “graduates” of the Facilitation Foundation Course to each facilitate one session or meeting of their choice within Catalyst, which will be documented.
- Document the Facilitation Foundation Course, and the mentored delivery sessions, on a GitBook, thus forming the basis of a Catalyst Guide to Facilitation, accessible via the Catalyst School website to anyone interested in learning basic facilitation skills.
- Invite trainers and trainees to form the start of the Catalyst Facilitators’ Collective - an ongoing community of practice for facilitators. This will exist on Discord or a similar platform. It will include a private channel for facilitators to share ideas, offer peer support to each other, and engage in reflective practice when they facilitate a meeting; and an open channel (plus regular asynchronous Zoom meetings), where anyone in Catalyst can come for advice, to share their own skills, and to get support if they would like to try facilitating.
- Based on their experiences in the project, the trainers and trainees will create a set of simple minimum basic principles of good facilitation, the “Good Spaces Charter”, which any potential facilitator can understand easily either by reading a 1-page document or by watching a short video. We will invite comments and input from the whole Facilitators’ Collective before finalising it. We will share the Charter widely in the Catalyst community, and will invite meeting organisers to sign up to it, in order to signal that they will aim to follow basic, widely recognised principles of good facilitation. We will aim for organisers of sessions like Town Halls, Swarm, Catalyst School, and other key community meetings, to become aware of these principles and sign up to them, perhaps with a badge or logo that can be used to signal that they have done so.
- We will translate the Good Spaces Charter into two additional community languages, so it can be shared more widely across the Catalyst community.
We did briefly consider “new member onboarding” for this proposal - but while good meeting facilitation does of course support onboarding, and will increase the likelihood that new people will want to get more engaged, our scope is far wider than that. This proposal addresses a need that is perhaps even stronger for established members of the community than for new people; because the more involved a person gets, the more situations they meet where good facilitation is vital. This proposal is about increasing engagement, community cohesion and quality of interaction for all of us; it will support the activities of even the most long-term and committed members as well as the new arrivals.
So we feel that there is no other challenge apart from Miscellaneous that can be a home for the wide-ranging, cross-ecosystem benefits that we aim to produce.
- Risk of not finding the right 5 people to form the initial team of trainers. This risk is low; our initial enquiries have revealed several potential trainers amongst newer people in Catalyst - people with strong facilitation and training-design skills, who are not getting further involved because they have not felt sure what the pathway is for them to share their skills. This proposal would provide that pathway. We are aware that there might be even more potential trainers out there; so rather than presenting this proposal with an already-fixed team of trainers, or simply inviting people we already know, we would prefer to approach this risk by running an open recruitment process and inviting people who we don’t already know about.
- Risk that not enough trainees join the training sessions. This will be mitigated by extensive publicity, using all the existing networks of Catalyst such as Catalyst School, Swarm sessions, and Town Halls across the globe; by presenting a clear and inviting offer detailing what people will learn, and how it will benefit them as well as the Catalyst ecosystem; and by offering trainees one paid session as a faciltator straight away, to put their new facilitation skills into practice.
- Risk that trainees find it scary or risky to try facilitating “for real” once their training is complete. This will be mitigated by supporting each trainee’s paid first session in the community with a mentor (one of the trainers); and then, by building a collective of facilitators who can offer ongoing peer support with session planning and debriefing.
- Risk that payment for facilitators will not be sustainable in the ecosystem as a whole, so that trainees will not be able to get paid for their skills on an ongoing basis. Mitigated by the “Good Spaces Charter” - this will raise awareness across Catalyst of the importance of good facilitation, and encourage the community to value and pay facilitators, so that the costs of facilitation will in future be distributed across all proposals and projects that use facilitators. The Charter will suggest that, where possible, proposals that depend on good facilitation should consider including it as a budget item in their funding bids, and will suggest suitable rates to avoid the situation where people do not include facilitation out of uncertainty about how to cost it.
at 3 months (early May-end July 2022)
- Recruit a team of 5 people from within Catalyst who have well-developed facilitation skills, from a range of different work backgrounds (creative arts, education, Agile/Scrum, community development, peer support, mentorship, etc)
- This team will devise a 3-session beginners’ course in practical facilitation skills
- The team will deliver the course, via Catalyst School, to 2 cohorts of 10 people - one cohort in late June, and one in late July - a total of 20 people, The course will be publicised, and participants invited, via all corners of the Cardano ecosystem - Catalyst School, Swarm, SPOCRA, Town Halls across the globe, Catalyst Circle and Sub-Circles, Twitter-based NFT artists, and more.
at 6 months (early August - end Oct 2022):
- Trainers will support trainees to apply what they have learnt in some way in the Catalyst ecosystem, by delivering one paid session supported by a mentor. This could be anything, from facilitating an After Town Hall, to running a session in their own core group, to running a Twitter Space, to devising and delivering a stand-alone session on a topic they care about.
- The course documentation, and documentation of these supported sessions, (including videos, session plans, etc) will all be collated on a GitBook to form the Catalyst Guide to Facilitation.
- Trainers and trainees will form the start of a “Facilitators’ Collective” - a community of practice based on Discord and Zoom. Through chat, asynchronous meetings, and publicity/outreach to engage new members, this will form an ongoing space for peer support and skill-sharing for facilitators in Catalyst.
- The Facilitators’ Collective will write the Good Spaces Charter, a set of minimum basic guidelines/principles around good facilitation (1 page); and will create a short video on it.
- The Good Spaces Charter will be translated into 2 community languages.
- The Good Spaces Charter will be publicised through the Catalyst ecosytem; key meeting and event organisers in the community will be invited to sign up to it, signalling “This organisation supports the Charter, and aims to run its sessions according to the principles in it”.
at 12 months (Nov 2022 - May 2023) (after the end of the funded project)
- Have an ongoing and active community-of-practice around facilitation skills, which welcomes new members and is constantly developing and seeding best practice through the Catalyst ecosystem
- Have the key meetings, such as Town Halls, Circle, etc - signed up to the Good Spaces Charter’s basic principles of good facilitation.
Note that the initial development and planning of the Facilitation Foundation Course will be undertaken by all 5 trainers working together; but the training delivery will involve 2 trainers per session, and will be shared out between the trainers according to their availability and their specific skills.
- Recruiting 3 additional people to trainers team (publicity and outreach to invite applications, 2 hrs x 1 person; assessing applications and shortlisting 2 hrs x 2 people; brief interviews 2 hrs x 2 people) total 10 person-hours @ $50 p/hr $500
- Develop and plan training sessions. This will include 3 planning sessions for the whole group of 5 trainers, plus the delivery of 2 events in the community to test out and develop ideas, each one led by 2 trainers (5 people x $400 per session x 3 planning sessions, and 3 people x $400 x 2 events) = $8,400
- Publicise the training sessions and recruit participants (1 person x 4 hours @ $50/hr, x 2 cohorts) = $400
- Delivering facilitation training. Training session delivery will be shared among the 5 trainers depending on availability; there will be 2 trainers per session. 2 trainers, x $400 per session, x 6 sessions (3 sessions per cohort) = $4,800
- Pay trainees to deliver a practice session: 20 trainees x $200 per session (trainee rate) = $4,000
- Support and mentorship for trainees in their practice sessions (20 mentor sessions x $200 per session - sessions will be allocated between trainer/mentors according to their availability) = $4,000
- Maintaining documentation of course and practice sessions on a GitBook, which will be accessed via Catalyst School website and will serve as a learning resource. The documenter will also collate feedback from trainees’ practice sessions = £4,000
- Creation, management and promotion of the community-of-practice space on Discord £500
- Management of “Good Spaces” charter scheme (devising and writing the charter, recording short video, publicising, managing signup)= $2,000
- Translation of Good Spaces Charter (c. 1,000 words) into 2 languages = $300
- Treasury management (handling project wallets and distributing funds to team) $80 per month for 6 months = $480
Total : $29,540
Vanessa Cardui (@CallyFromAuron) is a community engagement professional and artist, with 20+ years' experience of facilitating complex engagement projects in community development, community cohesion, heritage and arts. See for example https://feetonthegroundproject.wordpress.com/ (a 2017-18 community development project with Gypsies and Travellers) and https://creationofacommunity.wordpress.com/ (a project to build community confidence via training community members to facilitate local history sessions). She also has extensive experience of training others in how to facilitate effectively, and supporting and developing new facilitators. She is engaged with the Catalyst community, and has a broad insight into the range of meeting styles and events, and the goals of facilitators within Catalyst; and she has been exploring expanding the range of types of sessions within Catalyst; for example with a very well-received poetry workshop to explore issues around leadership during Catalyst Governance Week in January 2022.
Gustavo Pugliese (@gustapug)
7 years of experience in educational projects management and 8 years of teaching experience.
7 years of experience facilitating workshops on educational technology to teachers of different backgrounds. Direct contact with more than 3000 teachers.
Author of online (LMS Platforms) and in-person courses, as well as didactic materials for students and teachers all over Brazil.
Fellow in the German Chancellor Fellowship, a program of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; and fellow in the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative, a program of the US State Department.
Project approved in Fund 7 (education), CA, CT member, 5 years of daily contact with blockchain.
Catalyst School is a place to leverage the impact of Catalyst as a whole by introducing and improving the contribution of all its different players and roles. For more details please see the Catalyst School Website : https://beta.thecatalyst.school
We will measure:
- Number of trainers engaged, and the range of where in the ecosystem they come from
- Number of training sessions planned and delivered
- Number of trainees recruited, number who actually complete the course, and number reporting positive learning outcomes
- Number of mentored sessions that trainees facilitate, numbers of people who attend, and qualitative metrics on how useful those sessions were to both facilitator and participants
- Number of people engaging with the Facilitation Guide - views, comments, engagement, reports of usage
- Numbers of meetings and organisations signed up to the Good Spaces guidelines
- Qualitative evaluation across the community of whether facilitation is improving, as compared to a baseline survey at the start of the project
Success would be:
- increased confidence in facilitation skills across the Catalyst ecosystem
- an increased understanding across the ecosystem of what good facilitation looks like, and a sense of ownership of this, so that people who want to facilitate a meeting can take the broad principles and develop them to suit their own context, their own language and their own community
- training documented on a GitBook, as a permanent resource to help people learn basic facilitation skills
- an ongoing, open and active community of practice around facilitation, and an sense of invitation, so that everyone who wishes to is able to get involved and learn to facilitate
- increased ability across the ecosystem for people to create welcoming and effective spaces, where everyone is heard, and where the aims of sessions and meetings are achieved
- most of the key spaces in Catalyst to be signed up to the Good Spaces Charter
- For facilitation to be a recognised role in its own right within the community, and for its importance to be respected and where possible, rewarded.
It is a new project.