Tailor your team collaboration | What is facilitation?

7 May 2023


As a facilitator, I am brought in by teams and organisations to help them go through a process to problem solve, collaborate and help them achieve ambitious goals. This can involve forming a strategy for the coming year(s) with a leadership team, defining key vision and values for startup teams or new program teams, or helping a team adapt and change in a changing world. There are many different approaches a facilitator can take, but I focus on human-centric approaches that build on the principles of Design Thinking.

Here are a few facilitation approaches to consider:

Liberating Structures

Liberating Structures are a set of facilitation techniques designed to enhance creativity, collaboration, and engagement in group settings. These techniques are designed to break down traditional power dynamics and encourage participation from all members of a group. They can be used in a variety of settings, including meetings, workshops, and team-building activities.

The Design Sprint

The Design Sprint is a four-day process for solving problems and testing new ideas. It was developed by Google Ventures and is designed to help teams move quickly from ideation to prototyping to testing. The process involves a mix of individual and group work, and is intended to be highly collaborative and iterative. The goal of the Design Sprint is to help teams make progress quickly and efficiently, while also ensuring that their ideas are grounded in user feedback and data.

LEGO Serious Play

LEGO Serious Play is a facilitation technique where participants use LEGO blocks to build models that represent their thoughts and ideas. It can enhance creativity, communication, and problem-solving in meetings, and can be useful for a LEGO block selling company to promote their products and services while engaging employees and clients. LEGO Serious Play can be used in a variety of ways during meetings, such as building models that represent vision for a company's future or obstacles that the company currently faces. It provides a unique way for participants to express themselves and communicate complex ideas, and breaks down barriers and encourages collaboration.


Agile is a methodology used in project management that emphasises flexibility, collaboration, and rapid iteration. It is often used in software development, but can be applied to a variety of projects. The goal of agile is to deliver working products or solutions quickly and continuously improve them based on feedback. This is achieved through a series of short development cycles called sprints, where the team focuses on delivering a specific set of features or functionality. Agile teams prioritise customer satisfaction, continuous delivery, and adaptability to changing circumstances.

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However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach in facilitation, because not every team has 4 or 5 days to put aside, some teams come with a clear vision but are not entirely sure how to make it a reality, developing products, services, or programs requires a different approach, and some teams need to start from scratch with an entirely new vision because things have become unclear, there is no alignment, teams have been merged, and there may be politics involved.

As a facilitator I am always learning new approaches that I can carefully weave into a custom approach for each client. I say carefully, because I would not call myself an agile specialist and do not currently have the depth of expertise to be an agile coach for a project. Though, within agile there are some principles of being customer-centric, open to short iterations and being adaptive that align closely with Design Sprints and the user-centric approach to workshop design I use. So, not being agile, doesn’t mean I cannot learn from it and enhance my own expertise.

Think of a facilitator as a tailor who carefully weaves together different techniques and approaches to create a custom suit that fits the client's needs and objectives. Just as a tailor considers the client's body type, preferences, and occasion when crafting a suit, a facilitator considers the team's dynamics, goals, and challenges when designing a workshop or meeting. And just as a well-tailored suit enhances the client's appearance and confidence, a well-designed workshop or meeting can enhance the team's collaboration, creativity, and effectiveness..  


Ben Rouse is the founder and head facilitator at Evolving Design, who help teams collaborate, problem solve and achieve their ambitious goals.

Ben worked as a teacher and trainer before moving into facilitation, bringing his expertise together to facilitate team experiences.