Trust the Process; Trust the Facilitator

Posted on by Brandon Klein


The DesignShop process does not look like most people’s ideas of a sound, linear progress that is making progress towards the solution that is required. This causes angst in participants when they worry about the process and not the content. I can also cause angst in the facilitator, who wants the event to be a success.

People who participate in an ASE event are required to have “skin in the game.” In the sponsorship role, specifically in the first event, “skin in the game” can create tension within individuals that does not add value to the design. In the facilitator role, you can become so lost in the content that you have to have to “turn off the targeting computer” and “trust in the force.” Participants can get so caught up in worrying that the event will not get to the outcomes that they need that they want to grab the wheel and manage it in the management style they are accustomed.



The solution in the sponsorship context requires education. This must occur in the language of the sponsor and using models they can identify. Facilitators must have the intent to continue to explain, exemplify, and explore with the sponsors to ensure they have appropriate expectations.

The solution for participants requires more re-assurance than education.

The solution in the facilitator role requires the ability to ride down a hill on a bike with your eyes closed. You can do it if you trust that you can do it. It will get where it needs to go. It will come together. One facilitator commented that in every DesignShop, he always sits down to write a message to his boss about how the event crashed and burned. Just about then is when it turns.

The process is both robust and fragile. Groups will get what they need (not necessarily what was planned at the outset) from their event. They will work on what they need to, and will not allow themselves to be swayed by it. That does not mean you can ignore what is going on with it, as the facilitator is part of the space, too. But pushing will sometimes worsen the situation and sometimes make it better. You can break things, also. Part of learning how to facilitate means learning where you can intervene or break the rules and where you cannot. This is tied up in your style, too, so there is not one answer.