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Roger Schwarz, Anne Davidson, Peg Carlson, Sue McKinney
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Cataloging Information

Human Dimensions of Fire Management
Organizational Learning & Innovation
Psychological Safety

NRFSN number: 15840
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This fieldbook, a compendium of 62 articles by consultants, facilitators and organizational psychologists, is organized into seven parts that describe in detail the skilled facilitator approach to running meetings and facilitating groups. This approach seeks to understand the core values and assumptions working within groups and to rigorously show how these values and assumptions increase or decrease a group’s overall effectiveness. Concepts such as effective facilitation, group intervention, how mental models clash (my picture of the world is not the same as yours), theories of action (what we espouse compared to what we actually do), ladder of inference (how do my assumptions and inferences affect what I’m thinking and doing?), systems thinking (how all the parts of the system fit together), and the left hand column exercises (what is not being said in a conversation compared to what is being said), are described in detail. Much of the philosophy of the skilled facilitator technique is grounded in the “theory of action” studies completed by Chris Argyris (see Argyris 1990 Section II.E.1.) and is relevant to developing a learning organization. The authors conclude with discussions on deepening one’s practice, the challenges and risks of applying the skilled facilitator techniques, and how to apply those same processes as a leader of change within an organization and in one’s non-work life. This is an excellent manual for anyone facilitating a meeting, teaching a class, or leading a discussion on a complex issue. It is also an excellent guidebook to becoming a better facilitator


Schwarz, Roger, Davidson, Anne, Carlson, Peg, McKinney, Sue. 2005. The skilled facilitator fieldbook: tips, tools and tested methods for consultants, facilitators, managers, trainers and coaches. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 576 p.

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