Extreme Facilitation: Guiding Groups Through Controversy and Complexity / Edition 1

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Extreme Facilitation picks up where other books on the topic leave off, to present a revolutionary method that helps large, unwieldy, adversarial, and apparently dysfunctional groups achieve consensus and reach objectives on divisive and contentious issues no matter how long the group has been struggling.

Throughout the book, expert facilitator Suzanne Ghais shows how extreme facilitation—which puts the emphasis on creativity, flexibility, and customization—can change how group members interact with one another and how participants view the issues even in the most challenging and exceptionally difficult situations. Extreme Facilitation covers the preparatory phases of the process, including assessment, convening, and contracting. Ghais also offers vital information on process design and tips for handling situations that many facilitators find particularly challenging.

This groundbreaking book offers suggestions for the facilitator who must cultivate a strong presence, trustworthiness, and creativity, and have a clear understanding of the group's goals, needs, culture, and external conditions, such as pressures, requirements, and constraints. The extreme facilitator draws on a wide range of techniques that are driven by the needs of the group, not by the techniques themselves. To be truly effective, the facilitator must call on all of the group's physical, intellectual, emotional, intuitive, creative, and spiritual capacities.

Extreme Facilitation will help both experienced facilitators and those new to the process become more confident and competent when faced with the most daunting challenges.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787975937
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 3/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 826,748
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Ghais is program manager at the internationally renowned conflict resolution organization CDR Associates. She has facilitated a wide variety of group processes in the organizational and public-policy arenas. She has worked with large and small corporations, government agencies at all levels, industry and business associations, educational and health care institutions, and nonprofit organizations.

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Table of Contents



Part One: Foundations.

1. The Right Stuff: What It Takes to Be an Extreme Facilitator.

2. The Facilitator as Architect.

Part Two: Preparation.

3. Assessment: The Essential First Step.

4. Convening: Creating a Democratic Table.

5. Contracting: Setting Yourself Up for Success.

Part Three: Conducting the Process.

6. Process Basics: The Beginner’s Guide to Facilitation.

7. The Physical Capacity: The Foundation.

8. The Emotional Capacity: Welcoming and Working with Feelings.

9. The Intellectual Capacity: Facilitating Complex Issues.

10. The Intuitive Capacity: Sparking Insights and Ideas.

11. The Spiritual Capacity: Helping Groups Transcend Their Limitations.

12. Putting It All Together.


About the Author.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2011


    As a facilitator for the past 10 years, I thought I had read the most important noteworthy books on the topic...until I picked up this book. Ghais takes a unique perspective on facilitation, expressing them in a cohesive way that is useful for anyone who deals with conflict, trains, or works with people.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2007

    As Good As It Gets

    I love this book! I teach facilitation & have recommended Extreme Facilitation (EF) to my students. If you are an experienced facilitator, EF's insights will improve your practice. If you are a new facilitator or just thinking about learning the facilitator's skill set, EF will help you understand what the craft is all about. If you are a manager, or work with community/non-profit organizations, and have not used the services of a facilitator, EF will change your mind. Extreme Facilitation is important because once you know and use the facilitator's skills, you will save time, money & avoid a lot of the pain involved in getting two or more people to work out their differences & unite toward a common goal. Ms Ghais accurately demonstrates in words what a facilitator does and the benefits of using these skills. Her descriptions of the practice of facilitation, particularly of its role in conflict resolution, have a realness not found in many books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2006

    On a Scale of 1-5, This Book is a 10

    You don't generally think of books like this as 'page-turners', but I could not put it down. In Extreme Facilitation, Suzanne Ghais has moved away from the cookbook (techniques-based) view of facilitation found in many other books and training materials, and has captured the core principles that underlie successful facilitation in extreme situations. For example -- there are no 'difficult' people in a group rather people's 'difficult' behaviors reflect needs or interests that have not yet been identified or adequately addressed. Once these needs or interests are understood by the group and dealt with, the 'difficulty' usually passes. I started reading the book while stuck on a process design for a complicated project. The book's direct and insightful approach unlocked my creativity and allowed me to trust my instincts -- ie, the book facilitated my own thinking in the same way that 'extreme facilitation' empowers difficult groups to work together productively. Ms. Ghais' approach to the topic is transformative.

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