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Monthly Archives: March 2013

How is a Facilitator like an Architect?

Melbourne Singers of Gospel

You can just see the top of my silver hair tucked behind other second sopranos on the left. There were 3 more rows behind me.

Ever found yourself stuck in a building or venue completely unsuitable to your purpose? How did it get in the way of optimum performance?

I’m fortunate to be a member of the Melbourne Singers of Gospel (a 90 member choir) and we recently performed at the fabulous Famous Spiegeltent.

The Famous Spiegeltent is a magnificent hand-made travelling pavilion built in 1920 initially designed for cabaret and circus burlesque performers (Marlene Dietrich sang “Falling In Love Again” in the mirrored tent in the 1930’s). Every March it’s assembled in the forecourt of the Arts Centre in Melbourne. I’ve seen some wonderful performances there over the years. However it was not designed for 60 singers and 3 musicians in the middle of a crackling heat-wave.

Despite the thrill at performing at this iconic venue it was a struggle to deliver an optimal performance for our audience. Soloists had to be at ground level, our carefully rehearsed choreography got lost, soloists couldn’t be seen and most of us could not see our Director (rather important). All the preparation for voice placement was wasted as we squeezed in anywhere we could fit. Apparently we still sounded fabulous thanks to the quick thinking of our Director and our capacity to be flexible.

So what has this got to do with facilitation – and with architecture? Think about it – facilitated events are designed and “built” for a discrete purpose and with a particular group and a specific context. One-size-fits-all solutions result in squeezing your client’s needs into something designed for someone else. Like squashing 60 singers onto a stage designed for about 10 people.

The process design element of successful facilitation is frequently underestimated. I liken it to the work of an architect who consults with a client and develops a customised design.

How do you design and construct your facilitation events so that they really work for the people they are designed for?

Our latest facilitator training program is all about process design…

The Architecture of Facilitation

  • It covers: consulting with your clients to identify and agree specific outcomes; analysis of the environment and context; how to design and construct a facilitated event so that it works for the people and the purpose. Participants learn how to frame an appropriate agenda and select the best methods and tools for a particular issue or stage. We also explore how to handle the unexpected when you may need to change your plan mid event.
  • This is a virtual course conducted over 8 weeks using on-line technologies. It involves webinars, individual and group assignments, a learning project and individual coaching. Most of the webinars and on-line workshops will be scheduled outside normal working hours. No travel, no time off work, no
  • The first courses will start in June 2013 and will include one program specifically for facilitators based in India and Africa.

For more information or to be on our mailing list for updates:

Email us at

Or Call +61 (0) 3 9682 0441

Architecture of Facilitation Flyer



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