REVIEW: Adam Kahane’s — Facilitating Breakthrough (BOOK)
Adam Kahane’s new book is titled Facilitating Breakthrough: How to Remove Obstacles, Bridge Differences, and Move Forward Together. At first glance, the volume — along with its heady title — would appear to be a leadership advice guide. Succinctly providing the building blocks for how to build effective and proactive communication techniques with respect to employer-employee, corporate-clientele relations.
But the truth is, the book is so much more. Through the examples he provides — complete with acute characterization and personal vulnerabilities, Kahane illustrates how the phenomenon he’s cracked with ‘Transformative Facilitation’ is inherently universal. He breaks things down to the animal instinct, and by doing so shows the reader a path forward to establishing relations regardless of situational context, social or political orientation, or otherwise related creed. “One better way is through facilitating: helping a group collaborate across their differences to create change,” Kahane writes. “The word facilitate means ‘to make easier,’ and facilitation enables a group to work together more easily and effectively.
But for diverse groups facing increasing complexity and decreasing control, the most common approaches to facilitating — bossy vertical directing from above and collegial horizontal accompanying from alongside — also aren’t adequate…(Transformative Facilitation) focuses on removing the obstacles that stand in the way of people contributing and connecting equitably. More fundamentally, it focuses on removing the obstacles to love, power, and justice. It enables people to bring all of themselves to making a difference. It is a liberating way to make progress.”
In short, the term bigger than one’s self applies here. In some ways, and Kahane is not afraid to admit this, when it comes to individual specifics — there will be certain biases needing to be addressed before the group collectively can move forward. But it’s the ability to connect over base, universal traits, coupled with a structural outlook that focuses on how people constructively get to the long view that enables a sense of trust and shared outlook to flourish. This is not rocket science, Kahane states.
The complex and wordy analyses other specialists in this field have propagated, while well-intentioned, somewhat miss the boat. It’s keeping the crux of things simple, simple because simple traits are things people of all backgrounds and walks of life share, providing a roadmap to the realization of actual progress. “Transformative facilitation is a structured and creative way to help diverse groups remove obstacles, bridge differences, and move forward together. (It) enables breakthrough,” writes Kahane.
He continues to say, “Opening up enables participants and facilitators to cycle fluidly between advocating and inquiring and thereby to move beyond the vertical pole of ‘We have the right answer’ and the horizontal pole of ‘We each have our own answer.’ Opening avoids the vertical downside of a single answer that is incorrect or unsupported and the horizontal downside of a cacophony of answers that are unconnected.”