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Facilitating Breakthrough

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Facilitating Breakthrough

How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together


15 min read
9 take-aways
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Conventional facilitation styles can hinder collaboration. Achieve meaningful change by embracing a more transformative approach. 

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Organizations tend to mandate collaboration. But simply ordering people to work together is a futile approach, says organizational consultant Adam Kahane. Using several real-life, high-stakes scenarios, Kahane reveals that the secret to getting people to work together to create transformative change lies in a nuanced facilitation approach that removes obstacles to collaboration and embraces vertical and horizontal approaches. His instructive guidebook illustrates how facilitators can cultivate environments that allow transformative change to flow and flourish.


Conventional approaches to collaboration often rely on force, which is an ineffective motivator.

Today’s organizations prompt, urge, cajole and mandate people to collaborate, but such approaches are futile: For example, if a manager orders a group to execute a task without securing buy-in from his or her subordinates, the employees will either go along with the boss’s wishes and struggle or simply quit.

When people have a will to work together to effect change, they ought to employ transformative facilitation: an unconventional breakthrough approach that enables groups to overcome obstacles to collaboration. Transformative facilitation is a useful tool when any kind of group, organization, community or society attempts to institute change while facing internal or external challenges. When diverse groups convene with a goal of realizing change, they often require the guidance of a facilitator. Anyone who is willing to lead groups through the facilitation process, and who has the group’s support, can assume the role of facilitator.

To foster collaboration, dismantle barriers to contribution, connection and equity. 

In 2017, a diverse group...

About the Author

Adam Kahane has spent more than 30 years facilitating breakthroughs. He is a director of Reos Partners, a social enterprise that helps people work collaboratively toward change.

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