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Communication & Group Work (general)

Here are all of the resources in this category that NCDD recommends most highly.

A Manual for Group Facilitators Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Brian Auvine. Center for Conflict Resolution; reprinted by the Fellowship for Intentional Community, 1981.

The role of group facilitator is often pivotal to good results for groups making the transition to consensus. The Manual is a great introduction to the concept of approaching the role of facilitator as someone who welcomes both rational and emotional input. The staff of the Center for Conflict Resolution put their experience in working with groups into A Manual for Group Facilitators. This is an informal outline detailing useful and effective techniques to help groups work well. More than a simple 'how to,' the manual contains a discussion of the values, dynamics, and common sense behind group process that have been verified by our own experience.

Resource Link: http://store.ic.org

Addressing Language-Related Challenges in the Practice of Dialogue and Deliberation Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Sandy Heierbacher (Director of NCDD). Unpublished manuscript, 2006.

The true power of dialogue and deliberation lies in their ability to surface new insights and innovative solutions when all voices are brought to the table. But while diversity is an asset to these programs, it brings with it a unique set of challenges. This paper addresses four broad challenges related to language and culture that dialogue and deliberation practitioners regularly face. These are: (1) the challenge of getting culturally diverse participants in the door; (2) the logistics involved in having multiple languages spoken in the room; (3) creating a safe space for those with other language/speech needs or differences; and (4) dealing with participants’ existing preconceptions, assumptions and stereotypes related to language/cultural differences.

Resource Link: http://www.thataway.org/exchange/files/docs/Heierbacher_language_paper.doc

Democracy in Small Groups: Participation, Decision Making and Communication Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

John Gastil. New Society Publishers, 1993.

Drawing from years of research and experience, John Gastil offers a variety of solutions to the problems commonly faced by small, democratic groups. He thoroughly explores the dynamics of practicing democracy, including the relationship between speaking rights and listening responsibilities; the important of full access to information and agenda setting: and ways to practice democracy in personal, family and neighborhood life.

Resource Link: http://faculty.washington.edu/jgastil/

Doing Democracy: 10 Practical Arts Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Frances Moore Lappé. Originally appeared in Frances Moore Lappe's book "The Quickening of America." Jossey-Bass, 1994.

To be effective in creating societies that reflect our values and work for all of us, it helps to approach democracy-making as a learned art. As in learning any art - from ballet to basketball - it helps to break the process down to its core elements. So we've chosen ten arts of democracy, a nice round number - not with any pretense of creating an exhaustive guide. Rather, these practices seem a great place to start. They contribute to enhanced decision-making, mutual regard, and to group learning and staying-power. This 40-page guide is a companion to Frances Moore Lappé's 2006 book "Democracy's Edge: Choosing to Save Our Country by Bringing Democracy to Life." It is designed for educators, group leaders, and any citizen who wants to become more powerful.

Resource Link: http://www.democracysedge.org/handbook.pdf

Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making (2nd Edition) Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Sam Kaner with Lenny Lind, Catherine Toldi, Sara Fisk and Duane Berger. Jossey-Bass, 2007.

The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making is the best available training manual and sourcebook for facilitators, managers and leaders who want to encourage full participation, promote mutual understanding, and help groups build inclusive, sustainable agreements. It presents more than 200 valuable tools and skills and places them in the context of a lucid, realistic model of the dynamics of group decision making. The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making will help all facilitators improve their diagnostic judgment and increase their repertoire of methods and skills for supporting groups to make sounder, saner decisions.

Group Facilitation Listserv Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

The International Association of Facilitators and The Center for Policy Research at the University at Albany, SUNY.

Subscribers to this popular email discussion list share ideas, questions, and advice on group problem solving and decision making, group development, running meetings, and related topics. We highly recommend this listserv to all facilitators.

Resource Link: http://www.albany.edu/cpr/gf/

Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal Highly Recommended

Group Facilitation is a multi-disciplinary publication focused on the art and science of group facilitation. It aims to advance our knowledge of group facilitation and its implications for individuals, groups, organizations, and communities. It is published semi-annually. Group Facilitation is intended for facilitators, mediators, organizational development and training specialists, managers, researchers, and others who seek to use facilitation skills in their practice.

Resource Link: http://www.iaf-world.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3498

IAF Handbook of Group Facilitation: Best Practices from the Leading Organization in Facilitation Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Sandy Schuman, Editor. Jossey-Bass, 2005.

Sponsored by the International Association of Facilitators, The IAF Handbook of Group Facilitation offers the need-to-know basics in the field brought together by fifty leading practitioners and scholars. This indispensable resource includes successful strategies and methods, foundations, and resources for anyone who works with groups. The IAF Handbook of Group Facilitation provides an overview of the field for new and aspiring practitioners and a reliable reference for experienced group facilitators.

Resource Link: http://www.josseybass.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-078797160X.html

Institute of Cultural Affairs Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

The Institute of Cultural Affairs is one of the oldest and largest providers of training in facilitation. Their techniques are known collectively as the Technology of Participation, and they offer an extensive series of courses in the various techniques.

Resource Link: http://www.ica-usa.org

NCDD Commentary: Dynamic Facilitation and the Choice-Creating Process Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Tom Atlee and Rosa Zubizarreta. NCDD, 2003.

This commentary was submitted for the NCDD website by Tom Atlee and Rosa Zubizarreta in March 2003. The piece is adapted from Tom's book "The Tao of Democracy" (2002). It begins "To 'facilitate' means to 'help make easier.' If our goal is to have meaningful and powerful dialogue, the role of a facilitator is to help make it easier for the group to do so. Dynamic Facilitation, created by consultant Jim Rough, is a leading-edge process designed to help groups have meaningful conversations, access their creativity, and discover practical breakthroughs to challenging situations, even in the midst of divergent opinions, strong emotions, and conflicting beliefs.

NCDD Commentary: Inviting or Excluding? Evaluating Our Way of Being Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

John Engle, The Experiment in Alternative Leadership. Engle, 2003.

John Engle submitted this commentary for NCDD's website on December 7, 2003. John is the co-founder of Beyond Borders and The Experiment in Alternative Leadership and board member of the Open Space Institute USA. In this commentary, John openly discusses his work with the Open Space method in Haiti.

Resource Link: http://www.theexperiment.info

Option Technologies, Inc. Highly Recommended

Option Technologies provides interactive tools that improve group collaboration and decision-making in either face-to-face or multi-site meetings. Ideal for immediate assessment or rating lists of brainstormed ideas 'on-the-fly,' OTI's OptionFinder technology polls meeting participants who then respond from their pocket PC, computer, or wireless keypad. OTI's facilitator-friendly solutions include easy-to-use, PowerPoint-based software and portable, cost-effective response keypad options. AmericaSpeaks uses Option Technologies for the keypads each participant uses during their 21st Century Town Meetings.

Resource Link: http://www.optiontechnologies.com

SynergyCommunication listserv Highly Recommended

The Center for NonViolent Communication (CNVC).

This is an Nonviolent Communication (NVC) practice and support group. The list's tag line is "Learn, use, practice nonviolent communication. Enhance communication, mediation, and win/win dispute-resolution skills." Familiarity with NVC is requested of all subscribers. Subscribe using the link below.

Resource Link: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/synergycommunication

The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today's Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Peggy Holman, Tom Devane and Steve Cady (editors). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2007.

The first edition of The Change Handbook, published in 1999, was the most comprehensive guide available on methods of organization and community change. The first edition provided a snapshot of a nascent field that broke barriers by engaging “whole systems” of people from organizations and communities in creating their own future. The completely revised and updated second edition overviews 61 change methods - up from 18 in the first edition. A great introduction to large-group methods for participatory planning and redesign.

Resource Link: http://www.thechangehandbook.com

The Consensus Building Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide to Reaching Agreement Highly Recommended

Lawrence Susskind, Sarah McKearnan, and Jennifer Thomas-Larmer. Sage Publications, 1999.

Whether you work in the corporate world, a nonprofit organization, or the government sector, you are likely face the need to work with others to solve problems and make decisions on a daily basis. And you've undoubtedly been frustrated by how laborious and conflict-ridden such group efforts can be. At all levels from neighborhood block associations to boards of directors of multinational corporations, the consensus building process is highly effective in an increasingly fragmented, contentious society. In addition, the old top-down methods such as Roberts Rules of Orders often prompt more problems then they solve.

The Skilled Facilitator: A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches, 2nd Edition Great for Beginners Highly Recommended

Roger M. Schwarz. Jossey-Bass Publishers, 2002.

When it was published in 1994, Roger Schwarz's The Skilled Facilitator earned widespread critical acclaim and became a landmark in the field. The book is a classic work for consultants, facilitators, managers, leaders, trainers, and coaches--anyone whose role is to facilitate and guide groups toward realizing their creative and problem-solving potential. This thoroughly revised edition provides essential materials for facilitators and includes simple but effective ground rules for group interaction.

Resource Link: http://www.josseybass.com

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