Johnnie Moore

Facilitation: the people are the content

Really valuing participants' experiences in facilitation work
Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

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

Facilitation needs to focus on what participants bring, not simply serving up content

Transcript of this video:

A few years ago, I was running a course with my friend, Rob Poynton, and he used the phrase to me, the people are the content. By which he meant that although on this course, we were presenting ideas and information to the participants, what was really more important than the stuff that we were telling them was their own experience and how they were growing and what they were growing in themselves and how they were developing, how they were relating to the material, rather than the material itself. 

Because so often on management trainings, you have this big ring binder that is reverenced as the content of the course that you must learn and take away and, you know, keep on hand. And so often you learn a year later that that big folder of information has been stuck in a cupboard collecting dust all the while. And what’s more important than all of that abstract content is the experience of the participants themselves. And they’re sharing with each other. They’re sharing of war stories and anecdotes, experiences. 

That’s when I think the real development, that’s when the real development happens. And in that sense, they are the content much more than the ring binder. And I now pair that up with a second phrase I like to use, which is that the people are the process. Now a lot of trainers and facilitators will often tell you that we need to ‘trust the process’. And I’ve always felt a little uncomfortable with that because it’s as if the process is the thing. 

Whereas I think it’s the people that are the thing and how they engage with the process, how they rub up against it, how they find friction with it, how they test it and challenge it and react to it and what they bring to it. And it’s in that interaction with your notional structure, that the interesting stuff happens. And that’s the real process. 

The process is what the participants themselves are bringing, so the people, the participants are both the content and the process. And that’s a sensibility I’m trying to bring more and more to my work with groups

Photo by Tijs van Leur on Unsplash

Share Post

More Posts


There’s more potential in each moment than we realise

More Updates

Emotional debt

Releasing the hidden costs of pent up frustrations


Finding the aliveness below the surface of stuck

Johnnie Moore

More on Blogging – a new conversation?

What’s great about conferences with lots of bloggers is that out of the ether come some great notes of the speeches – which generally means I can fully indulge my

Johnnie Moore

Sauce opened

Well Friday saw James’ and my first Open Sauce workshop and it seemed to go pretty well. (Here’s James’ account of it) I learnt lots from it too which I

Johnnie Moore

Is facilitation a fat word?

Andrew Rixon reckons facilitation is a Fat Word. That is a word overused and abused and one which seems to hold way too much meaning for its own good. Yeah

Johnnie Moore

Not solving the problem

Mark at Anecote has a good post on not solving the problem. We generally find with complex issues that once you go into ‘problem solving mode’ you start heading down