I suspect that this is true – there will never be a ‘perfect’ facilitated session. I came to this realisation when I facilitated a discussion a few weeks ago in Shanghai. Despite various effort, thing went ‘wrong’ as a participant criticized rather emotionally on the process I used and how we I facilitated. What was more challenging was that a few other participants said they liked the process. So, views were different… quite a lot.
It was not the first time that things became out of control unexpectedly during my facilitated sessions. There was a time when my session was ‘hijacked’ by a participant. And there was another occasion when some participants simply thought that they should not be there.
On reflection, I think it is in the ‘nature’ of facilitation that we cannot have everything in control. No matter how well we designed, planned and engaged the participants in advance, something unexpected could happen.
With my limited knowledge, I think it can be described by Chris Arygris’ Model I and II. It is more ‘useful’ to adopt Model II (Mutual Learning) rather than Model I (Unilateral Control). The former helps people make informed decision with better buy-in. Yet it requires all (including facilitator) not to be obsessed with winning. So, I simply need to have a mindset ‘it is OK not to be prefect’.