I just finished facilitating a 4-day meeting for the IT Managers of the CGIAR: Around 16 participants (only one female participant) in mostly plenary settings. Some lessons learnt or confirmed:

  • It is so much better to be involved in the agenda setting… Making process suggestions during the meeting is difficult, and setting a different tone as well.
  • The people who talk little are definitively more at ease in small group discussions.
  • When a session is “only” for information sharing, there is not really much a facilitator can do.
  • Facilitating highly technical specialized conversations is a challenge.

And last week I facilitated an Open Space session for the Water and Food Challenge Program (CPWF) with only 12 participants, who gathered in 8 sessions during the morning, then prioritized three issues and moved forward to outline related synthesis papers. Lessons learnt:

  • Open Space works really well, also in small groups.
  • The reporting back can be a real stimulator and time-saver.
  • Facilitate a one-day portion of a longer workshop makes it difficult to reach closure.