Convergent Facilitation

Convergent Facilitation is a process for getting to a genuine agreement about how to move forward with any shared problem or disagreement. It’s focused on getting down to what’s really important to everyone involved and building that into a practical decision that everyone can wholeheartedly support. It offers ways to do this smoothly and swiftly.

It can be used in lots of situations but it’s been particularly transformative when in situations where there is strong disagreement between people. It’s about finding a way forward where no-one loses or is left behind, and people get what they need from the solution they create together.

The Basics

The fundamental principle of Convergent Facilitation is that people can collaborate on solutions that work for all of them, when they comit to something that they co-create, based on principles that they all agree to.

The basis of our strategy process lies in convergent facilitation (CF). The four stages we have outlined follow a common path to the process of CF.

  1. Building trust and reflecting on current situation.
  2. Identifying needs, both of the strategy content and how it is presented.
  3. Drafting and reviewing proposals.
  4. Deciding on proposals and forming the output.

Below, we will outline the key aspects of CF and link them to the process we are undertaking here.

A Brief Analogy

Lets imagine we are catering for a party and we want to make sure that evryone enjoys their meal. We could follow the following steps:

1. Criteria
Rebel Ringers video

Gets clear on what is important to everyone involved - what people need from an outcome solution.

  1. What matters to each of us?
  2. Is anything on here not ok for anyone?

Writing a list of ingredients & checking for allergies

2. Proposals
Rebel Ringers video

Comes up with creative ways of fulfilling all the needs people have for a solution.

Designing possible recipes

3. Agreement
Rebel Ringers video

Checks carefully for any concerns about the proposal(s) that have been created, and responds to them by improving the solution until everyone can genuinely say yes to it.

Deciding together what cake we will make!

How does Convergent Facilitation work?

Convergent facilitation is a proccess that builds on the following four beliefs:

  1. People's positions may differ, sometimes drastically, but they are often far closer in principles than it may appear.
  2. When people know that their needs matter to the wider group they have a much greater ability to shift into willingness.
  3. People are willing to go along with a much wider range of things than they would prefer.
  4. When we move away from "either / or" senarios into a solution that works for everyone, it's easier for people to come together.

Diagram of preference within tolerence Overlaping diagrams showing areas everyone agrees on vs areas no one objects to

So the steps of the process are as follows:

1 2 3
Gather everyone's needs and narrow them down to the "uncontroversial principles" that the output must meet Draft proposals which meet these needs, encouraging dissent and objections so that the group can review and adapt suggested solutions. Identify which of the proposals, or potentially combinations, which meet the most of the agreed upon principles.

This differs from other forms of desicion making such as Majority Voting or Group Consensus as their is neither the need for everyone to agree on the path forward nor the complete disregard of the minority vote. But instead we land on a solution that everyone consents to, it feels safe enough to try. An individual may not agree with the solution but instead each individual does not object to it.

Further Reading