IAF Gummersbach
Innovations in Facilitation and Program Design

Takeaways from the IAF Gummersbach Seminar
2023-05-05  Moderation Facilitation and Program Design in action!

Audience participation and engagement depends on the “way of being” of a facilitator, March 2023

© IAF Gummersbach

Learning is a never-ending process, and capacity building is essential to keep up with the ever-changing demands of our professional lives. And as professionals, we need to be continuously updated with the skills and knowledge to stay ahead of the curve, and attending workshops with hands on practical trainings is a great way to achieve this. Capacity building activities, such as the Seminar on "Moderation: Facilitation and Program Design" hosted by the International Academy for Leadership (IAF) Germany of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, provided me such an opportunity to learn from experts in the field, share experiences with peers, and gain new insights into best practices and innovative approaches.

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The two week workshop led by Trisha Lord and Marike Groenewald, two exceptional facilitators had a singular objective: to equip participants with the essential tools and abilities to develop and manage successful events and programs. A broad range of topics was covered in the seminar, including

  • creating a safe and supportive learning environment,
  • promoting critical thinking,
  • organizing open and respectful events,
  • framing issues in a conducive manner, and
  • addressing unconscious biases.

The methodology of the workshop was fully experiential in nature, whereas participants engaged with the theory, methodologies, and practices - all via practical exercises with 26 participants from around the globe! Open space technology was introduced as a methodology for participants to own the agenda and be involved in the program design process.

Turning issues into questions: This design tool helps facilitators to frame issues in a way that encourages exploration and learning.

Syed Raza Ali Shah

My Yesterday's Click

One of the biggest takeaway for me from this workshop was the importance of creating a container of connection, which involves understanding participants' contexts and creating a safe and supportive environment for learning and collaboration. Cultivating a thinking environment was also emphasized, as it enables participants to engage in critical thinking and generate new ideas. Tthe topic I was looking forward to the most was crafting liberal events, as it helps facilitators to create events that promote open dialogue and respect for diverse perspectives. Turning issues into questions was also explored as a design tool, as it helps facilitators to frame issues in a way that encourages exploration and learning.

I learned how to design effective gathering structures using the four quadrants of gathering design and how to utilise Daniel Kim's core cycle of success. From theatre to reporting in public media, from Kolb's adult learning cycle to a gamified design and methodology exploration - we covered so many interesting and new concepts in such a short time! The seminar also covered how to cultivate quality connections online, learn from innovation in social movements in Germany, and how to present oneself when working with the media.

In addition to the seminar, participants also experienced a 3-day excursion to Mainz, Frankfurt, and Bonn cities in Germany. The excursion provided an opportunity for us to learn more about German culture and history while also engaging in team-building and networking activities.

Overall, the seminar provided us all with a wealth of knowledge and skills in program design and facilitation. The diverse range of topics covered in the seminar enabled participants to gain a broad perspective on effective program design and facilitation techniques.