Mar 17, 2007

Training and Facilitation

I attended a program in the beautiful town of Khandala (about 2 hours drive from Mumbai) along with 14 other learning partners of a large financial services company.

One issue we struggled with is the focus on making the transition from being trainers (which is what we all called ourselves when we began our careers) to facilitators of learning (which is what we are trying to become).

What's the difference? Isn't that just a clever name for an old skill?

Not really, because while training follows a "one to many" model, facilitation is "many to many" where the expertise of the facilitator lies not so much on what the content of the learning is, but also what is the process of learning.

Let's interpret this using an example. Suppose you are in a training program, and differ with the trainer on certain aspects of what is being taught.

What would a trainer do? Well, normally a trainer would ask you to politely keep shut and not disrupt the class with your clearly advanced knowledge. That would be rational because the onus of providing learning in that setup rests with the trainer.

However, if the same example is in the same class but with a facilitator, then the focus would be to draw upon your learning and add to the learning of the group. This might also result in contradictory learnings being given to the participants. But you know what, that's ok.

Reality is often complex enough not to be labeled in a set of binary instructions, this works and this does not work, or this is true and this is not true.

Yes, this approach also causes us facilitators to look at how our own opinions are formed and to always be aware of how our biases and notions might be impacting what we influence our participants with.

That is one reason why I never really react to opposing points of view, as I recognise that there is more versions of reality than just mine. That goes true with even opposing comments posted on the blog :-)