Here is a collection of resources I use in my facilitation practice. By and large these resources support facilitation of participatory and self-organizing process at scales ranging from very small groups to large conferences. I use some of these tools directly and others as inspirations to design and create my own processes.
The first section provides links to participatory group process that are inclusive and self-organizing to varying degrees. The section on process architecture and maps contains links to sites whose worldviews can inform process design from single meetings to large scale change. The next three sections cover more specific tools useful for particular purposes, and finally the last section contains links to sources of ongoing inspiration.
Taken together, this page could be said to form my facilitation manual. I hope it serves you as well.
- The Art of Powerful Questions. A brilliant guide to creating and working with powerful questions. The basis for all good participatory design.
- The Chaordic Stepping Stones. A planning tool I use to guide groups through an organized conversation about design.
- Simple meeting design. A simple redux of the above tool, suitable for quick and urgent design needs.
Group Process Methodologies
- Open Space Technology- My own collection of resources relating to this transformative approach to group work and leadership.
- Open Space World – The online home of the global Open Space Technology community.
- The World Cafe – The basic form of a powerful dialogue process.
- World Cafe supply list. An excellent article on supplies needed to host a World Cafe.
- Conversation Cafe – Resources to support cultures of conversation.
- Pro Action Cafe – an action oriented method developed by the Art of Hosting community
- Collective Story Harvest – a powerful method for having whole groups chart collective learning
- Bohmian Dialogue – Thinking on the underpinnings of David’s Bohm’s Dialogue process.
- Basics for calling a circle – From Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea, developers of PeerSpirit Circling
- The Ulimate Guide to Anecdote Circles – Working with stories.
- Future Search. A conference architecture for exploring what comes next.
- Core Art of Hosting practices- a collection of the core practices used within the Art of Hosting community
Process architecture and maps
- A Pattern Language for Group Process – A collaborative project to map the essential patterns of life affirming group process.
- Civic Engagement and the Restoration of Community – An excellent resource from Peter Block on changing the nature of the conversation within community.
- Meg Wheatley’s Principles for supporting healthy community.
- Appreciative Inquiry by David L. Cooperider and Diana Whitney. An introduction to Appreciative Inquiry and its uses.(.doc)
- The Appreciative Inquiry Commons – The online home of the appreciative inquiry practitioner community.
- Theory U – A map for learning from the emerging future.
- Systems Thinking – Tools and underlying philosophy of systems thinking approaches.
- Places to intervene in a system, the classic essay by Donella Meadows.
- A white paper on designing participatory community engagement – My current thinking on designing and implementing the next level of consultation processes.
Suites of Tools
- Reflection toolkit. A large sample of good reflective exercises for group work.
- Liberating Structures. A pattern language and collection of 33 tools for participation.
- My colleague Viv McWaters shares her tools here. Lots of improv games here and meaning making exercises.
- Art of Hosting tools and resources from Toke Moeller and Monica Nissen
- International Association of Facilitators Methods Database – Free to register, hundreds of process outlines.
- Theory U tools – A set of exercises and tools for working with Otto Scharmer’s Theory U.
- The Questioning Toolkit – Resources for developing questions.
- Gracious Space ToolKit – from the Center for Ethical Leadership
- Systems Thinking Tools – Tools for creating systemic co-learning in organizations and communities.
- Mindmapping – A list of links to mind mapping sites. I often use mind mapping to record conversations and dialogue on flipcharts.
- Visual facilitation tools – Steven Wright’s collection of software and resources to help lift the conversation off the page.
- Getting started with graphic facilitation. A primer.
- Strategic Questioning (.pdf) – A great resource by Fran Peavey on the power of using strategic questions to create movement
- Non-violent communication – An introduction to a powerful process for communicating needs and facilitating peace.
- Scenario Planning Resources – Tools for developing and prototyping futures.
- Strategy Tools for Community Planning – From the community problem solving team at MIT.
- The Planning Tool Exchange. Over 300 tools supporting heart and soul in community planning, from the Orton Foundation.
- The art and Science of Story Part 1 and Part 2 – Dave Snowden’s method for working with anectdotes, archetypes and meaning in organizations.
- Action Research Resources – for learning while doing.
- Consensus Decision Making Tools – collected by Tree Bresson
- A Handbook for Formal Consensus Decsision Making - by C.T. Butler and Amy Rothstein
- Innovations in Democracy: tools and inspiration for citizen participation – from DemocracyInnovations.org and the Co-Intellegence Institute
Tools for embodying learning
- Warrior of the Heart – Blending aikido and the art of hosting
- Activities and exercises for groups – From Firestarter
- Training Games – From the Thiagi newsletter.
- The Encyclopedia of Improv Games – Hundreds of ways to engage and play.
- Pointless Games – Bernie DeKoven’s games to play just for fun.
- Community River of LIfe – An exercise to create a shared understanding of where we are in the story of our organization or community’s life.
- The Work of Byron Katie – a tool for freeing ourselves from thoughts that imprison us. Resources provided by Caitlin Frost.
- Dynamic Facilitation process skeleton – A method of honouring and working with group energy to support “AHA” moments.
- The Art of the Focused Conversation – Overview of ORID, a great tool for focusing conversations and leading into dialogue.
- – From archive.org, a great collection of tools for creative group work.
- Creativity Techniques – Basic processes for new perspectives and ideas.
- Polarity Management: A Summary Introduction by Barry Johnson. A very useful summary of a tool I use to help groups move beyond either/or thinking (.doc)
- The Interview Matrix – Instructions and forms for using a powerful brainstorming and dialogue tool (.pdf)
- Five to Fold. A consensus-based decision making process from the Genuine Contact community.
- ORID, a process for structured participatory decision making