The Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige: Re-imagining facilitation through trials of systemic design for public policy

Author: Keren Perla

As the experiment with systemic design for public policy continues to grow, those who call ourselves facilitators – by trade – are found grappling with new approaches for guiding complex dialogue that both re-enforce the critical role of facilitation as well as challenge the fabric of ethics and values upon which the practice is founded. In this presentation we explore how facilitation of systemic design efforts, particularly where participants have limited appreciation of the underlying methodologies, necessitates a new understanding of the facilitator – one that expands and pushes the boundaries on core concepts such as ‘impartiality’, ‘consensus decision-making’, ‘facilitator as process guide’, ‘results versus emergence’, and ‘topic vs process disclosure.’ Similar to a magician’s code, these tenets have been critical for creating acceptance of and belief in facilitation to guide cultural change; however diversity and complexity in the field continues to proliferate. As such we argue that this destabilizing effect of systemic design provides an unmapped space to re-imagine the traditional art of facilitation to not only better adapt the discipline to more diverse uses in geographical, political, organizational and community settings but provoke transformational responses and actions in today’s legacy social systems.

Posted Sep-2014

RSD proceedings are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

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