On October 13, International Facilitators week starts. I’ve been a facilitator for a long time and I’ve never noticed this week before, but then again I was largely a social media virgin until relatively recently.
What a good marketing idea- a week to talk about and promote facilitation. There’s some good ideas and some credible attempts to explain what facilitation is about. For a cheesy and clunky but amusing attempt, just have a look here.
The forthcoming week has made me consider getting accredited as a facilitator, it’s something that I’ve considered before but never seriously. Having spent half an hour looking at what’s on offer it’s not something that I’ll be considering again for a while. There are a plethora of organisations offering ‘accredited’ facilitation services. There are two international organisations, one an institute and one an association, but apart from that the names are the same. Both charge a substantial amount of money. If I can’t judge who to approach for professional accreditation then how does a potential client infer meaning from any facilitation accreditation? The answer is of course, they don’t. People use our services because of our experience, reputation and our credibility, most of our clients are repeat business.
For tips about working with groups take a look at our resources section.
Work hard and have fun
I spent a glorious autumn afternoon at Wrest Park with the children this weekend. It is a great place to visit with acres of woodland, green space and pools in the landscaped gardens of the Versailles style mansion house. We are lucky enough to live within 5 minutes drive and are regular visitors, regardless of the weather.
Nic and I are committed to working locally in places that we know and mean something to us and with people that we enjoy working with. Not only does it make sense to us from a financial and practical point of view, but we think that working locally adds tremendous value to our work. It brings all kinds of benefits:
- Local knowledge – we can hit the ground running because we know the area and what matters to people– this is cost effective for the client and offers insights and experience that are not always available from the outside consultant
- Networking – we are experts in economic and community development but that is so much more effective when you know the key players and understand the organisations and their relationships – what works well and what doesn’t locally. We often know who to go to or know someone else who does!
- Trust – it is much easier to build a client/contractor relationship where you both know other people in the various economic or community networks. It helps smooth the wheels and builds trust which can bring added value and openness to a discussion.
- Value – it is cheaper to work locally – our additional expenses are low and we can often fit in meetings easily and at short notice.
- Green – it is much more sustainable – although we all use email and webinars as far as possible the relationships and benefits you have from face to face meetings cannot be under-estimated. A local contact can offer this while keeping things environmentally friendly.
- Commitment – this is the biggest for me! It really matters to me if skills levels improve in Bedfordshire – we are talking about my children, my community and my friends and I want this area to succeed – Nic and I both go the extra mile and add value because your East of England projects matter to us. We have both worked across the area for over 15 years and enjoy it!
Of course it is also critically important to use the national expertise. We spend time reading up on good practice, attending events and training and liaising with national bodies as part of every project. We have both enjoyed working in London, Wales, Oxfordshire, and Surrey earlier in our careers.
We believe that we offer our local clients excellent value for money, expertise and commitment – a big part of this is because we work locally with people and places that matter to us.
Best wishes for a good week,
For parents up and down the land, we have been sewing in nametapes, realising that uniforms that did fit in July are now far too small and that the mist and fog of yesterday morning marks the start of the autumn term! The juggling of childcare, school work and business begins again!
The real lesson for me though is how I am learning as much as the children in their new classes and lessons and that I have to be as open to the idea of learning and seeking out new concepts and innovative solutions as they do – or as I want them to be! This is pretty tricky for adults sometimes – we are good at instilling it in our children and spouses – Do your best! Think positive! Try something new! But do we always do it ourselves?
I am working on a project that involves a lot of people learning as they go – new partners working together, existing partners playing new roles, people who normally deliver, sitting back and facilitating, people uncertain about their role and wondering if they may upset any of the other players by taking the initiative. It has all been pulled together in a hurry but as long as we all keep talking and recognise that we are learning as we go we will make progress and be slicker in the next delivery cycle.
It’s been a really interesting week and it’s only Tuesday.
I’m currently working on three different commissions, a followship day (that’s pretty interesting and I’ll blog about that another time) for Westminster Council, the provision of infrastructure services in Bedfordshire and Luton (interesting and challenging as it’s all about people) but most exciting of all is my first hackathon on Saturday.
The hackathon is for DNA Digest in the Microsoft Offices in Cambridge. I’m working pro bono as it’s a great project and I’m really pleased to help. If you don’t know what a hackathon is (I didn’t) ‘it’s an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers and project managers, collaborate intensively on software projects’ . In this case it’s about sharing DNA for research, presently DNA data isn’t widely shared between institutions which means that data isn’t used to it’s fullest potential. On Saturday, I’ll be facilitating the day to address this issue where the technically gifted can really make a difference.
It’s great to learn about new things and to be open to new ways of working. It all adds to the skills set, encourages creative thinking, helps me stay up to date and lets not forget it keeps my tired brain quite active. I’ll be meditating later..
I’ll let you know how I get on next week.
The Employment 1st course at Central Bedfordshire College came to an end on Friday amid real fanfare – the nine students were represented with their certificates by Andrew Selous MP and Mandy France from People 1st. The ceremony was opened by Ali Hadawi OBE Principal of the College and the audience and speakers included representatives from Central Bedfordshire Council, Job Centre Plus and Experience Bedfordshire – who were representing the hospitality sector employers.
The ceremony was uplifting and it was great to see the women that I had met the previous week looking so confident and having worked so hard over a short period to achieve a significant qualification. They reported that they no longer felt “on the scrapheap” , had made friends and developed aspirations that only a few days ago did not seem at all likely.
The potential, though, was in those ladies meeting the employers who have committed to interviewing successful graduates and talking about the vacancies and opportunities… and those conversations were developing all over the room and it was great to see the prospects for meaningful employment opening up for all the students.
Everyone had played a key role:
- The Council had initiated the project and paid for Inspiring Partnerships to develop the concept and undertake the research and brokerage
- The College had taken the risk in developing the course and offering the pilot and had brought a great tutor to the course who proved popular with all the students
- Job Centre Plus had made the referrals
- People 1st developed the course nationally with employers
- Experience Bedfordshire had brought access to the employers and supported the project to member employers as part of the commitment to develop the sector
- The employers themselves had taken a risk in trusting this partnership to deliver outcomes that could improve their recruitment systems
But in the next two weeks, it will be how those newly qualified students fill in forms, perform at interviews and access those opportunities. They have every chance and I hope that in 2 weeks time I will be reporting some amazing results via this blog!