- Facilitator -
Facilitate means "to make easier." Lawyers, arbitrators, and mediators resolve conflicts; facilitators make it easier for participants to find common ground so that they can solve problems or answer questions. Conflicts are sometimes misunderstandings in disguise.
Concensus is a word I started using in 1992 to describe a type of agreement that is reached quickly in a dynamic and energetic discussion, rather than a laborious process of arriving at the lowest common denominator. The word concent used to mean harmony during the Renaissance. It later fell into disuse but remained in the language as the root of the word concentric. So concensus is a type of agreement that emerges like a hologram as a result of paying attention to the intersections where experiences overlap based on the assumption that we have evolved from a common center (the Big Bang).
As a facilitator, I try to follow the following principles:
Never ask a question if you think you know the answer
Everyone participates equallyno spectators
Speak from experience, rather than offer your opinions and judgments
Pay attention to agreement, those moments when experiences overlap
The greater the diversity in the group, the more intelligent
Synergy is generated when agreement is reached
The questions raised by clients in the beginning were focused on local issues: How can our bank grow from one billion to two billion dollars? How can we get more people downtown? Should Costco open a store in our town? How can we deal with high school gangs?
I conducted retreats and meetings for Hospice,
the Bower Foundation, American Riviera Bank, Affinity Bank,
Granada Theater (Center for Performing Arts), National Institute for Urban Search and RescueNIUSRand World Unity Flag. I produced teleseminars on various subjects and time management seminars for lawyers and accountants.
"If anything, we got too much out of the retreat. There was so muchbut that's this Board. They're full of ideas, they're full of energy. It was an enormously successful retreat. I was very pleased with it. The outcome was great. You did exactly what we needed to be done in the end, so I couldn't have been happier with the result."
Peter Firsch, Executive Director
Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts (Granada Theater)
The scope of topics increased as I organized a series of annual summits in Santa Barbara, the La Casa Invitational, and started working with hosts who asked some bigger questions:
How can we speed up the shift to holistic thinking? ( Tom Van Sant)
What is the meaning of life and the meaning of death? (Robert Muller)
What is the Grail of a new story that will lead us out of the wasteland? (Jean Houston)
The ultimate question was raised by Mikhail Gorbachev: What is the state of the world?
The conversations at these events were exciting. I teamed up with filmmaker Ron Dexter to document the meetings and make movies, such as On the Edge. I wrote Robert Muller's biography, Prophet--the Hatmaker's Son and a companion ebook, Paradise Earth.
Now I ask myself, What's the point? We made it this far. Let's let bygones be bygones and see if we can find a path that leads to a plausible future.