3 things I learned by talking to 25 Process Designers and Facilitators:
Three weeks ago I decided to start freelancing as a Process Designer & Facilitator. Since then, I met up with 25 Designers and Facilitators. Some I knew, some I didn’t. Today, I’m sharing with you what I have learned from those conversations.
After working with strategy, process design and facilitation during my time at Hyper Island in Stockholm and at De Correspondent and Momkai in Amsterdam, I decided to start freelancing as a Process Designer & Facilitator. I met with 25 Process Designers and Facilitators, just by asking them sincerely if I could offer a cup of coffee and ask some questions about how they work, what vision they have and what they have learned since they started.
The past three weeks, I’ve had insightful conversations with some of the most genuine and humble people that I know. Today, I’m sharing with you what I have learned.
Facilitation & Process Design means nothing
First of all, Process Design and Facilitation means nothing in itself. Some would call themselves Process Designers or Facilitators, others call themselves Learning Designers and I have even heard people calling themselves Host. The titles describe what they do, not how they do it, and definitely not why they do it. To simplify my story, I will use Process Designer whenever I refer to Facilitators, Learning Designers and Hosts.
Compare a Process Designer to a teacher. A history– and chemistry teacher both teach. But they teach something completely different than the other. Both from their own perspective, with their own knowledge and methods.
Everybody is different
Thus, every Process Designer is different. And that’s a good thing. Each has his or her own background, values and strengths. All 25 persons that I talked to, identified themselves as Process Designer but all had their own approach and were doing something different. For example:
Barcelona-based Alejandro Ferrer — fellow Hyper Island alumni — has a background in design and co-founded The Pop Up Agency. Today, he facilitates change, boosts innovation and empowers teams. In addition he also started Triggers, brainstorming cards that unleash creativity. With those he basically facilitates groups, even when he’s not around!
Another fellow Hyper Island alumni, Laïla von Alvensleben, lives in London and does not consider herself a Process Designer. With Hanno, she helps health and wellness companies deliver customer-centered digital experiences. The reason why I contacted Laïla is because of how Hanno works. All Hanno team members live in different parts of the world. That means they have to work together digitally and facilitate meetings online. I’ve learned that they actively work on their digital culture. They use online post-it boards and communicate via hand signals during video calls! They share how they do this online, so you can learn from it as well!
Marlinde van Hedel started Creavisie some years ago, without knowing that today it would be a collective of Process Designers with different backgrounds and expertises, from all over The Netherlands. Depending on the client’s challenge and needs, they form a different team of Process Designers.
Marjoleijn Felius is also part of Creavisie. Just recently, she went to Peru for a three week gig to help others find their inner-motivation and purpose. Something that is esecially done by having face-to-face conversations. Kevin La Grand’s goal is to find people’s inner-motivation as well, but he does it a bit different. He helps elementary schools focus on helping children find their inner-motivation so that they can develop themselves better!
Bieke van Dijk and Bastien Jansen work with Groupmapping in Amsterdam. With MG Taylor’s theory in mind, they help organisation boards finalise their vision and strategy for 80% while the other 20% gets co-created together with all employees. This results in more complete visions and strategies and everyone in the company agreeing on them. After this they help the client with the implementation as well!
Goedzooi works the other way around. Hailing from Breda in The Netherlands, it is a creative bureau consisting of four people. They create products, identities and campaigns for clients –and by doing this also change the way their clients work. Instead of helping people to solve the problem themselves, they solve the problem and teach the client how to do this; a reversed way of Process Design.
While some focus on unleashing creativity, others facilitate the creation of strategies. Some do it in person and others do it digitally. The Process Design field is diverse. And that’s good.
Although, today the demand for Process Designers is increasing enormously, I think we still face two challenges.
First of all, many people in organisations still don’t know what Process Design is. They don’t know that actively working with process creates better solutions to today’s problems, more effective teams and meaningful work. Our main challenge is to communicate this better and show others how this benefits others.
The second challenge has to do with the solutions we provide our clients with. What happens when we facilitate a process and leave? How can we make sure that our solutions are long-term? Part of the answer lies in what Edgar H. Schein called different forms of consulting:
“When helping others, we can take in three roles. The expert, doctor or process consultant. The expert gives advice on how to solve a problem, while the doctor solves the problem for you. A process consultant — on the other hand — puts emphasis on helping others to help themselves.
A Process Designer gives space for others to learn how they can solve the problem themselves. If the same or a similar problem arises in the future, they don’t need a consultant anymore!
What do you think?
I want to thank everyone that I talked to, especially Frank Crucq, Marlinde van Hedel and Alejandro Masferrer!