U-Facilitate

Module 2

Contracting and Handling Logistics

This module prepares the facilitator for a successful meeting. When agreeing or contracting to facilitate, it is important to communicate with the meeting organizer to plan and clarify your role. Homework will include diagnosing the situation and considering any ethical and process questions. Four logistical tools are explained: advance planning for inclusive participation, meeting organization, equipment and material checklist, and room arrangements.

Contents

  1. Overview: Agreeing to Facilitate and Handling Logistics
  2. Contracting: Diagnosing the Situation
  3. Contracting: Ethical and Process Questions
    Worksheet: Some Initial Questions—Diagnosing the Situation
    During Contracting
    Worksheet: Some Initial Questions—Ethical and Process
    Considerations in Contracting
  4. Worksheet: Some Initial Questions—Ethical and Process
  5. Considerations in Contracting
  6. Worksheet: Logistics and Arrangement
  7. Advance Planning for Inclusive Facilitation
  8. Meeting Organizer
  9. Equipment and Materials Checklist
  10. Room Arrangement
  11. Finding More Resources
  12. U-FACILITATE and University of Illinois Extension Programming

Overview


Contracting: Agreeing to Facilitate

The questions in this section are designed to help the facilitator in several ways. They put some “structure” to initial discussions and to the decision on whether or not to accept the facilitation. They are also a guide to working with the group or organization. The word contracting as used here is not meant to suggest a rigid or formal agreement, but rather a planning process.

Included are questions for the facilitator to use with representatives of the group/ organization in meeting(s). There is also a worksheet on logistics and arrangements to be used as the next follow-up step. Also included are some questions relating to ethics. These are designed to serve as the facilitator’s personal checklist, to help decide whether or not to take on the project. In addition, they should help the facilitator spot any “red flags” during the planning process. You will find more on ethical decision making and use of power in Module 7: Diversity, Power, and Ethics.

Handling the Logistics

Good facilitators know that the success of a meeting begins with good planning before the group gathers. The contracting will help to clarify roles and expectations. However, additional planning is needed to set out the agenda, communicate with participants, make room arrangements, and gather supplies and equipment. Time spent in preparation will increase the chances of a successful meeting. Pre-meeting work may include collecting data, laying out the agenda, determining the group process to follow, and possibly having a couple of alternatives in case flexibility is required.

Know the room. This may mean going to look at the space ahead of time, or at least, arriving very early so you can make sure the seating arrangement is appropriate for the room, the size of the group, and the work that is to be accomplished. There are many different room arrangements; select the one that will create an atmosphere of openness and encourage group involvement.

Develop a checklist to review the needed equipment for the meeting. Resources may include name tags, flip charts, AV equipment, markers and tape, table tents, etc. Have extra supplies on hand.

Tools

Four tools are included to make handling the logistics of group meetings easier:

  1. Advance Planning for Inclusive Facilitation—Use this checklist to ensure that participants in sessions feel welcome and included. Logistical considerations include interaction with the group requesting facilitation, resource assessment, participant support, site accessibility/safety, etc.
  2. Meeting Organizer—Keep this worksheet master on file to organize important information for each facilitation opportunity.
  3. Equipment and Material Checklist—Keep this worksheet master on file to attach to the meeting organizer to plan for supplies needed.
  4. Room Arrangement—Use these principles of room arrangement to guide your decision on how to set up your meeting room.

Contracting: Diagnosing the Situation

Contracting is “an agreement that reflects clear expectations about how the facilitator and group will work together“ (Roger Schwarz, The Skilled Facilitator). Schwarz emphasizes, “Ineffective contracting almost invariably results in problems later in the facilitation process.” Schwartz gives three reasons for contracting:

  1. To ensure that both the facilitator and group understand and are committed to the conditions that would govern their working relationships.
  2. To create an early opportunity for each to ob serve how the other works.
  3. To build trust and a solid psychological foundation between the facilitator and the group.

The worksheet on page 2.5 suggests questions to help you diagnose the situation and decide whether to accept or decline a facilitation opportunity.

Contracting: Ethical and Process Questions

It is the responsibility of the facilitator to see whether the group that is requesting a facilitator meets the ethical and process standards of quality facilitation. If it doesn’t, decline the facilitation opportunity. Sam Kaner in his Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision Making lists four functions of a facilitator:

Encourage and ensure full participation
Promote mutual understanding
Foster inclusive solutions
Teach new thinking skills

The worksheet on page 2.6 suggests questions to help you consider ethical and process questions and decide whether to accept or decline a facilitation opportunity.


To order the seven-module set, please visit www.pubsplus.uiuc.edu or call 800-345-6087. For more information about the U-Facilitate program, contact Cindy Erickson (cericksn@uiuc.edu, 217-244-0433).