Five Key Skills for Effective Facilitation - Part 1: Knowing Your Outcomes

By Steve Zuieback · Posted Thursday, November 22, 2012

Five Key Skills for Effective Facilitation – Part 1 – Knowing your outcomes.

 Five Finger Model

The art of facilitation greatly depends on 5 key areas. I once had a plane flight from New York to San Francisco and was sitting next to a highly extroverted woman. She wanted to talk the whole 5 ½ hours of the flight. Being an introvert I just wanted to read. Eventually as the plane was landing she asked me what are the most important skills of an effective facilitator. This was a difficult question. I then started ticking the skills off on my fingers and what I came up with was  – outcomes, questioning skills, observation skills, prevention and the ability to get down to the level of values and beliefs. This is where the 5 Finger Model came from.

 Getting Clear About Your Goals

The most important and foundation area is to be clear on your outcomes for working with an individual, team or whole system.


Rarely are people clear about their outcomes and there are two types of outcomes to be clear about before starting any work – rational and experiential (social and emotional). Rational outcomes are those things that you can check off a “to do list”. Making a decision, developing a plan, developing a strategy are all rational outcomes.


Experiential outcomes have to do with more intangible components – what dynamics you would like to achieve in a team – more understanding, greater safety or more collaboration. These are often more important than the rational outcomes because they are often pre-requisites for developing creative solutions that empower people or that generate commitment.


You Should Always Design for Both

Because we live in a busy world we rarely have time to conduct a meeting to just build safety, trust or commitment. In addition, people show up to work everyday wanting to make a difference and get things accomplished. When you design your meetings I would suggest that the meetings should always be designed to accomplish both the rational and experiential outcomes. 

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