We explain our approach to facilitation as coming from the roots of the word: to make easy. This really runs back to the roots of the method, which is grounded in part by the writings of Christopher Alexander and his concept of patterns in architecture which either encourage or inhibit a natural flow.
It’s a wonderful concept; create a flexible work environment and patterned working process which removes all barriers and inhibitors which stand in the way of highly productive work. The concept has equal force whether it is applied to work or environment, or in the case of how we use it, when both are combined.
That is why I read this article in the New York Times (with an excellent audio slide show) with such interest. Artists and designers Arakawa and Gins have created spaces that run counter to the paradigm of designing for comfort…they have designed a house that challenges. The floors undulate and are bumpy (yes, bumpy!), the plugs and switches are helter skelter and there is barely an even surface in the place.
The idea? In their sworn effort to defy death, they have made it their mission to design spaces which force work and adaptation, creating stronger, healthier individuals.
This got me thinking. When is it better to “make easy”, and when is it better to make things difficult? There are definitely parts of our process which, I know, push people outside of their comfort zone, and it’s the hard work and cognitive dissonance of being out of the status quo that often encourages superior results.
In one of our internal sessions a few years ago, we removed all the furniture and fittings from the center in order to force the group to consider what was truly necessary in a space. It was uncomfortable, but some great dialogue came out of it.
I’m curious; who designs their sessions with comfort and discomfort in mind? When, in your mind, does facilitation mean making things harder for people?