5 May 02
Facilitation training teaches one that participants become more
invested in the process and the outcomes when insights emerge from
themselves, when their voice is heard. (One of the outcomes, is an
interest in participating in further group process.) I extend this
principle about group process to reflection processes, such as
freewriting, that allow a person to bring to the surface insights
that they were not, at first, prepared to acknowledge. (See
Q1: What is it about being a person that makes this the case?
This question might make more sense if we ask another question,
Q2: why can't a person become just as invested in a well-thought out
plan that others with more experience and knowledge had produced?
One answer to Q2 is that there is often a backlash against
innovations and change, a backlash that reveals people's fear.
Q3: What leads to people having fear that gets in the way of their
One answer to Q3 depends on noting that people have a backlog of fear
that they haven't processed from previous experiences (see
Weissglass, "Constructivist Listening") and are constantly operating
on top of this, keeping it suppressed. If anything starts to open
that Pandora's box, it is scary and it feels safer to close it again.
One kind of answer to Q1 then is that in well-facilitated
participation the person is getting more in touch with their
intelligence, seeing how a web of support can be built, and noticing
what that feels like before fear has a chance to get in the way.
Q4: What kind of group process could we invent that would build a
support structure for each individual as they try to make changes
(that is, not only when they participate in group processes such as
One answer is the circle of elders in which say 6 people listen to a
person's problem of the moment and then the person listens to the
responses, which are not supposed to take the form of direct advice.
(Does anyone have a source for this?)
Others? Or adaptations of this?
29 Oct. 01
I invented the term "flexible engagement" a year or so ago. It seemed to capture the challenge for researchers in any knowledge-making situation of connecting quickly with others who are almost ready to foster—formally or otherwise—participatory processes and, through the experience such processes provide their participants, to enhance the capacity of others to do likewise. The term plays off the "flexible specialization" that arose during the 1980s, wherein transnational corporations directed production and investment quickly to the most profitable areas, discounting previous commitments to full-time employees and their localities. Open question: Would flexible engagement constitute resistance or accommodation to flexible specialization?