Group Facilitations – Conflict Management for any Organization!
The skills required for group facilitation are much the same as those used in managing public meetings (and some of the examples given below fall under both categories). A public meeting can also lead to a group facilitation project – see Issues Group. The major difference is that there is usually a succession of several meetings in a group facilitation project. Over the 25 years of his career, Mark has successfully facilitated a succession of groups, at first during his six-year stint as Aggregate Coordinator for Jefferson County and then throughout his nearly twenty-year independent career in conflict consulting which followed. Much of this work can also be categorized as environmental and land use work, but not all. Group facilitation is a challenge because its result is often not as clear-cut as the written agreement at the end of a mediation session. The result may be simply a greater understanding of the issues common to everyone in the group. However, a written document can also be the result. Mark’s successfully facilitated groups have memorialized their agreements with:
- Action Plans (immediate future, 5-year plans, 10-year plans)
- Written agreements resolving mutual issues (much like a mediation)
- Formal meeting records (for use in later planning sessions or group activities)
- Recommendations to a parent group or governmental agency
- New official plans or plan amendments
Some notable examples of facilitations Mark has conducted include:
- Major land use proposals (large gravel quarries, landfills, subdivisions, a shooting range, conversion of open space into a park, a household hazardous waste disposal site, routing of a proposed connector road) – Some groups met for as long as two years
- Groups convened to generate or modify government regulations – Groups often met for months
- A three-day retreat for the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition to generate its five-year plan
- Workgroup facilitations (U.S. Postal Service, other federal agencies, County agencies)
- A facilitation between a neighborhood association and a non-profit group over a land use disagreement
- Facilitation of an urban renewal authority board to develop a positive action plan
- Facilitation of a group of local elected officials to resolve a fiscal policy crisis
The variety of these examples demonstrates Mark’s long history and versatility as a Group Facilitator. Many of the same examples are given in the Environmental/Land Use section. Some of the non-confidential facilitations are highlighted with details elsewhere.