External or Internal Facilitation?
The use of a person outside of the organization or activity. This external person is interested in providing the process to assist the group in discussing the issue and moving towards the desired actions. The external facilitator has no vested interest in supporting or encouraging a specific decision.
- Typically creates atmosphere of neutral or unbiased facilitation
- Brings fresh perspectives and new questions to the discussion
- Is often very willing to ask difficult questions and confront assumptions
- Can be used to move the group forward when dealing with difficult or controversial issues
- Requires more time to become familiar with the issue, context, participants and stakeholders
- May be viewed as an "outsider" and not respected or trusted
- Typically requires a direct fee for service
- Is often present for a portion of the entire process
Using people who are part of the organization or activity, very often middle or upper level staff members who have skills in leading group discussions, and decision-making processes. Internal facilitators may or may not have knowledge or expertise in the technical/content issues that are being discussed.
- Often has detailed knowledge of the content/issue
- Has knowledge of the history and context of the situation
- Has knowledge of or relationships with many of the participants and stakeholders
- May be more cost-effective than hiring an external facilitator
- May have untested assumptions and biases about the content/issue, as well as the history of the situation
- May be perceived as biased (for or against) certain participants, stakeholders or decisions by the group
- May not want to risk position in group/community by asking difficult or controversial questions
- May be reluctant to challenge people in positional power because of fear of retribution
Block, Peter (1981) Flawless Consulting. San Diego, CA: University Associates, Inc.
Schwarz, Roger (2002) The Skilled Facilitator. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass