Do We Know What the Problem Really Is?
Our rational minds have a low tolerance for complexity. Yet the problems we face as families, neighbors, organizations, governments, and as a global community are becoming impossibly complex. Our typical approach seems to merely reduce problems to disjointed fragments, which keeps us forever fighting and competing for apparently scarce resources. To move beyond fragmented solutions, we must learn to fully embrace and bear witness to the whole mess. The evolution of wholesome and complete solutions depends on it!
What Does This Have to Do With Facilitation?
In my experience, most problems, as they are presented by groups, are poorly defined and/or laden with an enormous bag of assumptions. Groups come looking for help solving a problem that has been perceived through very limited, highly conditioned perspectives. Even on those rare occasions when the problem is clearly defined, when we facilitate solutions to problems defined from a less than integral perspective, solutions often lead to a new set of even more challenging problems.
What is Integral Facilitation? A holistic framework that:
- Helps us better understand the natural complexity of systems and situations.
- Includes a focus on culture, community, and self in addition to process tools.
- Helps facilitate the emergence of high-functioning, collaborative teams.
- Includes the subtle aspects of Self as an instrument to provoke optimal performance.
The Four Quadrants
The integral model is based on a four quadrant view of life as shown in the figure. Every situation contains and can be viewed from these four perspectives: 1) Experiential, 2) Behavioral, 3) Social & Systemic, and 4) Cultural.
Four Quadrants of Dying Fish in a Lake
This next figure offers an example of an integral view of fish dying in a lake. These perspectives exist for any situation but it’s not unusual for important perspectives to be missing, which leads us to very fragmented and problematic “solutions.”
Enhanced Facilitator Value
Facilitators equipped with an integral perspective can bring great value to their groups before they even gather. Helping them to view the “problem” through a wider lens can lead us closer to the source issues and when these are addressed, solutions are farther reaching, have more leverage, and far greater return on investment of time and resources.
The Four Quadrants of Facilitation
I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
The Beatles —
We can look at the very act of facilitation and collaboration, in addition to the facilitator, through these same four quadrants. So here is how we define these quadrants as four aspects of any engagement from a facilitative perspective.
- SELF-AWARENESS: The inner values, intentions, knowledge, and motivation of the individual, whether the group leader, a participant, or the group facilitator. This is the realm of self-awareness.
- SELF/TASK MANAGEMENT: This quadrant presents constraints such as time, cost, quality, and scope. It is fueled, as well, by content such as facts and figures that can stimulate the work of the group to achieve an expected or intended product described in a plan. Also, a primary task of facilitators is the management of their own behavior.
- GROUP MANAGEMENT: The processes the group uses to produce something tangible lands in this quadrant. Outcomes may look like a list of ideas, a report, a new product, a solution, or an improved organizational system. In order to engage the group to produce these outcomes, process tools, methodologies, and interventions may be employed.
- GROUP AWARENESS: Each group or organization possesses its own unique and ever changing internal dynamic: its specialized values, symbols, worldviews, structures, and behavioral norms. These are reinforced because of the conditions and context it faces. Being able to recognize, read, and understand internal group or organizational culture must become a central focus if we are to solve complex problems.
Next, we’ve identified 20 skills sets or archetypes that we believe are important to faciltiate collaboration in groups. These form another dimension of the Integral Facilitator. Click here to learn more about the Archetypes of Collaboration.
This model is taught in an applied format during our Journey of Facilitation and Collaboration Workshop, a five-day experiential event offered twice a year at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and sometimes at other locations throughout the country.