A necessary dimension of collective, horizontal processes of knowledge production is facilitation. All too often neglected, when it is addressed it often inhibits collective processes, undermining the political capacities of emergent groups. Not surprisingly, the obligations, opportunities, and occasions for facilitation begin long before a scheduled gathering or project. Facilitation is especially critical in research projects that engage already present situated and poetic knowledges.
More easily addressed if explicit at all stages of a collective process, a successful facilitation strategy insures all participants are able to share their specific histories, experiences, skills, resources, and desires as part of a shared process of problem solving. Successful facilitation strategies consist of a number of interchangeable components such as basic agreements, assessment strategies, group activities, and decision-making processes. A modular facilitation not only highlights the key components necessary for a successful horizontal process, but invites all members of the group to engage specific tasks in order that the entire facilitation strategy is shared.
Although a necessary technical effort, facilitation is also something of an art, not easily executed by an act of will or professional and technical expertise. Given that many issues confronting a community are not so easily articulated, one of the most difficult challenges in a successful facilitation is the ability to reflect back, amplifying a group’s questions, desires, knowledges, and wisdom(s) in such a manner as to encourage a critical evaluation of the group’s knowledge(s) and promote action. Avoiding the trap of leading or directing a group, requires moving at the group’s pace.