Second Teaching; Two Facilitators

Posted on by Brandon Klein


When we have two facilitators in a session, how do we insure clarity in role definition, and still maintain credibility for both one is often perceived as the "alpha facilitator," and looked to as the key person by the client and the engagement team. Using two facilitators to conduct DesignSessions is good, but almost impossible to really allow for co-facilitation. Often, one will assume the lead role and the other can be incorrectly seen in a subservient or less valuable role. This can set a poor context when, at a subsequent Session, the second facilitator now is in the lead. It precipitates the reputation of one over another and diminishes our ability to grow.



Second Teaching is the concept that both are equals, one facilitator just happens to be in the front of the room and another in the back. Developing this concept begins with engagement team discussions. Where we position the team rather than an individual. Following onto sponsor meetings, both can be introduced for co-design and planning. For the facilitators, It begins by mutual agreement in roles and coordination in dealing with the ASE team during planning. The more the two facilitators can work together before the Session- on design, planning, and coordination, the more they are able to become a team. During discovery days, sponsor meetings and planning sessions, continually portray the teamed approach. During Sessions extenuate the duel approach. Look for opportunities to introduce co-support and play upon each other’s strengths, and capabilities. Candor is mandatory between facilitators and success is based on the Session outcome, not individual performance. Both should engage, leverage each other to allow one to think and one to dialog in order to think and stay ahead of the conversations and actions. Develop signals for conversation switching and build on each others words and actions. See yourself as a tag team. Communicate, cover each others mistakes and build on each others perceptions, and comments. Eye contact is important.

When combining two facilitators, figure out your roles ahead of time. Sometimes a male/female combination can be very effective if they each zero in on different members of the sponsor team. Another model is to have both do the introduction, one handle Scan Day, the second Focus day, both do Act day. Whatever—just organize it ahead of time. Another model is for one to do the entire event, with the second as a discussion partner who can help think though the event but remain semi detached.