The idea beyond this session leads to a basic question of facilitating. How to facilitate a group of experts without a deep understanding of their technical backround? What does a facilitator need to know about the specific content of a project to enable a focussed learning process? Especially during retrospectives, conversations often switch between multiple topics. Participants using technical language e.g. make it difficult for a facilitator to make the right decision when to interupt a (technical) discussion.
Here are some metaphors we found to describe the problem:
The group felt comfortable to go on with the discussion using the metaphor of an air traffic controller who has no experience as a pilot:
What is a pilot expecting from the air traffic controller (atc)?
How does a pilot recognize that he is confident with the controller?
What are the advantages of a controller with the experience of a pilot?
Are there any disadvantages?
What does “be aware of the air” means for a facilitator? –> Be sensitive for what is going on in the room!
What is the “common language” of the facilitator and the team? –> It's the process! Having the ability to structure the process and to know the appropriate vocabulary is the faciltator's business!
Like the pilot knows exactly what to expect from the air traffic controller, the facilitated group must have a clear image of what they can expect from the facilitator. –> explain the roles and place a clear contract
In an airplane it is the pilot who makes the decisions. –> Facilitating means to support a group not to lead them! The Team decides on actions!
Like an air traffic controller has to have some knowledge about the aircraft –> facilitators must know the context of a group