Making Sense of Emergent Facilitation
Making Sense of Emergent Facilitation

Making Sense of Emergent Facilitation

Welcome to the February 2021 Dandelion’s share.

This month we’re going to dive into Emergent Facilitation, discovering what it is, how to use it, and some practical applications, which will hopefully give you a better idea of the concept and how you might one day apply it. 

I first heard the term in the back-half of 2020, while taking part in the DSIL Innovation Leadership Course, led by Katy Grennier and team. I had a really tough time wrapping my head around the concept and process. And to be honest, still do. I’m a very traditionally practical person, used to following clear steps, which Emergence and Emergent Facilitation is not. During the multi-month DSIL course, we were regularly reminded to “Trust the process” and that we would “Move at the speed of trust,” both of which are integral to Emergent Strategy.

Jade, Chriselle & Scott chatting Emergent Facilitation

While searching for explanations of what Emergent Facilitation is, I came upon a blog on the subject by DSIL course alumni and DSIL Program Coach Jillian Tuck. She laid-out the basics quite eloquently and rather than reinventing the wheel here, I’ll share what she came up with to get started.

According to Jillian, “Emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. In time, small connections between humans emerge into intricately woven societies, and forms a collective that can do together what each individual could not do on their own.

There is no fixed agenda in emergent spaces. Rather, the facilitator creates a container for the group to come together in community, build authentic relationships, and see what arises from the conversations, connections, visions and needs of the collective. People are prioritized over process, always.”

She outlines four key elements of the process:

  • Get everyone’s whole selves in the room
  • Trust the group
  • Find the sweet spot between under and over control
  • Be a magician of time

I encourage you to read Jillian’s full blog for greater detail and insight. 

To get a better idea and dive in further, listen to the discussion I had with two fellow 2020 DSIL program alumni, Jade Atkins-Nikolaou and Chriselle Raguro. Enjoy the conversation, I hope you gain some useful insight and feel free to get in touch if you’d like to banter or share further on the subject.


Jade Atkins-Nikolaou on LinkedIn 

Chriselle Raguro on LinkedIn 

Jillian Tuck on LinkedIn

Katy Grennier on LinkedIn

Blog: Emergent Facilitation (What?! No agenda?!) by Jillian Tuck

DSIL Innovation Leadership Course

Liberating Structures

Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds

The Power of Moments

Greater Good Studio

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