Our Voice

15 Benefits of External Facilitation

Currently, we are helping many clients with their projects by delivering great outcomes through workshop facilitation.

“External facilitators are unnecessary. We have people who can do that.” Thankfully this view isn’t expressed often but when it is, how do you respond?

Here are our top 15 reasons to use external facilitators. The list isn’t extensive nor complete. It’s simply our take.

  1. Internal facilitation is normally run by the team leader. That’s not helpful as inevitably the team leader knows the purpose of the workshop. The temptation for the team leader to lead the workshop to the desired outcome is high. Sometimes we find that internal facilitators have their own subconscious agenda. They know the company, warts and all. Impartiality may be lost.
    This is an obvious one. If you are facilitating you are unable to fully participate.
  2. Timings play a key part in any workshop. Managing the agenda, writing up key points as well as managing and guiding the discussion is difficult.
  3. An external facilitator can ensure that the discussion moves on rather than is locked in a spiral. They can introduce an element of balance and fairness, ensuring that all views are heard and listened to.
  4. External facilitators have many years of experience and skills that give a new perspective to the issue being workshopped, as well as expertise that can cause the issue to be looked at in new ways.
  5. They can have experience from other industries that cause delegates to challenge their own knowledge and beliefs.
  6. The facilitator won’t have a suite of assumptions or biases that will colour the discussion or cause the discussion to be shut down because ‘it has always been done this way’.
  7. External facilitators can offer a view that is not shaped by internal politics or history.
  8. They can ask questions that team members may find difficult and are not swayed by the delegate’s title or position.
  9. Internal facilitators can be held back because of their position in the organisation v the position of a delegate, they may not want to rock the boat.
  10. Some delegates prefer external facilitation because they feel that they are not being led to a specific outcome because of the facilitator’s view (because they have a stake in it).
  11. An external facilitator can be challenging (more so than an internal person) and some clients would be very disappointed if this wasn’t a key role of the facilitator.
  12. An external facilitator can ensure adherence to a process (if this is the case), but also to challenge and push the team along through their decision making.
  13. An external facilitator can ensure that the team are fully engaged and that all delegates are given an opportunity to speak, ensuring that the delegates feel involved and own the output.
  14. An external facilitator can also ensure that there is an accurate record of actions and notes. They can ensure that commitments are made and these are accurately reflected in any follow-up notes.
  15. Any prep or pre-work will also be undertaken by the facilitator, ensuring that the right materials/templates are available, any pre-work for the delegates briefed, an effective agenda and time-plan created. Equally the little things will be organised by the facilitator eg projector, materials, props and flip charts.

Big River Solutions is a strategic and operational CPG consultancy. Since 2004 we have helped a number of global organisations define purpose and process for growth, helping drive commercial performance.

If you have a project or issue that would benefit from some external facilitation, let us know. We would love to help you deliver great outcomes.