Constantly, professionals of CIAT’s research and management areas face the challenge of organizing workshops, meetings and gatherings where they aspire to get feedback from their teams, partners or farmers. However, getting people to participate and openly express their thoughts or have the willingness to share their knowledge is often not easy.
For this reason, CIAT’s Human Resources Unit and the Knowledge Management group organized the workshop “Facilitation Skills for workshops, events and participatory meetings” with the aim of strengthening the capacity of participants in the use of tools and methodologies that allow them to assume the role of facilitator and design inclusive agendas.
This workshop, facilitated by Simone Staiger-Rivas and José Antonio Arana – with the support of Fanny Howland and Armando Muñoz – took a practical theoretical approach in which each exercise was developed by participants. They had to assume different roles in working groups to use techniques and resources for facilitation, practicing and discussing together the successes and difficulties.
The idea behind this corporate training is the promotion of participatory values among future facilitators at CIAT. These values, proposed by Sam Kaner , focus on achieving: participation of all, mutual understanding, inclusive solutions and shared responsibility. The idea is to work on three interrelated axes, with different results obtained by facilitating an specific activity:
* Personal Learning:
- Increase self-confidence.
- Increase commitment.
- Ability to assume greater responsibility.
- Better leadership skills.
* Effective Groups:
- Increase ability to deal with complex problems.
- Development of a respectful and mutually supportive environment.
- Access to more information.
- Increase ability to use multiple talents.
* Sustainable Agreements:
- More and better ideas.
- Better decisions.
- Solutions that include everyone’s objectives.
- Monitoring and evaluation.
During the two-day workshop (October 6 and 7), the 18 participants made a journey that began with the basics of facilitation (icebreaker exercises, expectation setting, ideal behavior of the facilitator, active listening, use of flipcharts), followed by methodologies to work with groups (processes to enable dialogue, categorize and prioritize ideas, and to establish agreements and decisions) and finished with the design of participatory agendas (practicing with real cases, including a reflection on the importance of documentation and implementation of evaluation methods).
After the workshop, the Human Resources Management Unit conducted an assessment survey among participants. The results highlight that:
- The workshop strengthened skills and delivered tools useful to the participants’ work.
- Suggested improvements included: a longer workshop duration and provision of materials with the course content and concepts.
- 100% of the people who carried out the evaluation would recommend the course to someone else.
If you are interested in participatory facilitation, we invite you to further explore this topic in the CIAT’s Knowledge Management blog: http://ciatblogs.cgiar.org/knowledgemanagement/tag/facilitation/