THE POWER OF QUESTIONS – FACILITATION Vs COACHING

Real learning is bequeathed from seeking, and seeking is brought forth from asking questions, not giving answers. When you ask a question, you are opening up to a realm of infinite possibilities. But when you are only giving answers, you are trapped in the confines of your understanding. Answers are inhibitors; they restrict the possibilities to the solution offered. Questions, on the other hand, are powerful creators and powerful questions are the harbingers of discovery.

A Coach has mastered the art of asking the right questions. His competence lies in eliciting his client into new ways of thinking by a process of enquiry. The outcome of such a process is a refined realisation that can be transmuted into ready action. A facilitator, on the other hand, creates a psychological space that encourages thinking. He influences his group to seek and debate on issues concerning beliefs, values and culture. He encourages doubt. He facilitates a healthy environment wherein members can freely ideate, express and question on predetermined agendas without barriers of guilt, shame or prejudice. Hence, while a Coach helps you on a journey of discovery, a Facilitator creates visibility of such journeys.

There fundamental distinctions of coaching vs facilitation are:

  • Coaching is effective when centric to individuals, dyads or very small groups (not more than 10)
  • Facilitation is best complimented for groups, teams, task forces or organizations.
  • Coaching focuses primarily on an individual’s own ecology and worldview
  • Facilitation is focused on the community.
  • Coaching services are transactional, usually by one on one meetings or phone calls.
  • Facilitation services are issue-based, conducted through group sessions, virtual meetings or workshops,
  • Coaching sessions are more intimate and best-done face to face
  • Facilitation sessions are more dispassionate and best delivered in a ‘one to many forum’.

In Agile, Coaching and Facilitation meet the common ground, and hence the impact is more powerful and sustainable. From the perspective of Coaching and Facilitation, Agile practices enable commonality of function and purpose, as under:

  • Agile presumes the client(s) / participant(s) are creative, resourceful and whole such that they can find their own solutions
  • Agile uses various methods to draw or pull information out of the participant(s) / client(s)
  • Agile adopts fundamental methods and skills of Coaching and Facilitation such as Appreciative Inquiry, setting safe environments and relationship guidelines.
  • Agile advocates neutrality without taking sides on issues.
  • Agile mandates allowing flexibility and adaptability in using different techniques or methods to meet client’s needs,
  • Agile promotes active listening to client needs, to what is being said and more often than not, what is not being said.
  • Agile promotes delving deeper into strengths, possibilities, change and transformation through a journey of realisation and discovery.

The significant advantage of the Agile methodology is that it enables you to master both these roles through an experiential process. Agile is a world where the phenomena of seeking a quest and finding numerous possibilities from it are an everyday occurrence. Being Agile is not about giving solutions, it is about seeking the right questions and discovering new ways of doing things, and in the process, finding powerful and path-breaking personal and professional results.

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