Johnnie Moore

Not turning religious in facilitation

In facilitation, we need to be flexible and not dogmatic about our process
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Creative facilitation means not getting attached to our favourite process

Transcript of this video:

There is a spiritual saying, I think it comes from Deepak Chopra, but if you’re not a fan of his, don’t let that put you off. It goes something like this: 

God spake the truth. And the devil looked at it and said, oh, that’s brilliant. I shall organize this and call it religion. 

And I think of that saying a lot when I see someone who’s got a bit attached to some favorite process. And we’re all liable to this. We find some approach to work. It might be, well, I don’t know, Appreciative Inquiry, or a particular approach to complexity, or let’s say Design Thinking. 

We discover it, we get excited about it, we use it, we get good results, and we become more enthusiastic about it. We start spending more time with fellow enthusiasts. We start reading articles and books about it. We may start even writing articles and books about it because we think it’s so good. And then we start being concerned for the parts of the population that have yet to discover, let’s say Design Thinking, and start insisting that they find out about it. 

And without noticing it, what we start to do is to start to create actual hurdles and barriers to people engaging with it. We’ve made it into a sort of religion. And people outside look at it and think, oh, design thinking, oh, that looks a bit complicated. Do I have to read all those books to do it? And then they might feel a bit disheartened and not want to engage with it. 

And the thing is for many of these processes, what makes them work when they work is that they’re basically fundamentally very human, and any human should be able to do them. And we don’t want to, by turning them into religions, make them more mysterious than they need to be. 

I know that in my own work as a facilitator, when I’m running a process, it’s often when the process meets really serious resistance, people start challenging it and changing it and tweaking it. That’s sometimes the most interesting thing that can happen. And what you might call resistance is actually a very positive energy in the group. And it’s often more interesting to go with that than to stick to the religion of the process.

Photo by Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash

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