The International Association of Facilitators

About IAF

Facilitation is a profession rapidly taking its unique place alongside those of consulting and training. The International Association of Facilitators was formed by a group of professionals desiring an avenue for interchange, professional development, trend analysis and peer networking. A formal association was proposed and adopted at a networking conference in Alexandria, Virginia, in January, 1994. More than 70 people signed on as charter members. Since then the IAF has grown to… over 1200 members in more than 63 countries. Our members work in government, nonprofit, educational, community, and corporate environments and hold positions as consultants, teachers, in-house facilitators, negotiators, organizational specialists, coaches, and more

As a participatory organization, the work of the IAF is reliant on volunteer leadership and the contributions of its members. The IAF encourages and supports the formation of local groups of facilitators to network and provide professional development opportunities for their members. Regional groups from around the world are invited to become affiliated with the IAF to help promote the profession of facilitation as a critical set of skills in the global society of the 21st century.

IAF Vision, mission, and values

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    IAF's Mission

    The mission of the IAF is to promote, support and advance the art and practice of professional facilitation through methods exchange, professional growth, practical research, collegial networking and support services. This is accomplished through peer-to-peer networking, professional development and annual conferences which are critical means for fulfilling the mission and reflecting our core values.

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    IAF's Values

    Inclusiveness – Including the full spectrum of personal, professional and cultural diversity in our membership and in the field of facilitation
    Global Scope – Connecting and serving facilitators locally, nationally and internationally
    Participation – Advocating participative methodologies that generate ownership of decisions and actions
    Celebration – Celebrating life through spirit filled quality interchange, activities and events
    Innovative Form – Modeling a participative and flexible organizational structure that promotes growth, change and learning
    Social Responsibility – Supporting socially responsible change within private, public and voluntary organizations

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    IAF's vision is to…

    Be a leading influence in the art and mastery of facilitation
    Be a worldwide connection between diverse members and partners
    Provide ongoing global exchange of facilitation expertise
    Be the premier provider of resources in support of the professional facilitator
    Be a strong, evolving organization focused on inclusive and participatory practices
    Provide relevant information grounded in applied research to meet customer needs and respond to social trends

IAF’s Statement of Values and Code of Ethics

Below is the Statement of Values and Code of Ethics of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF).
This Statement of Values and Code of Ethics recognizes the complexity of IAF Facilitators’ roles, and in particular that to inspire trust and receive trust are key components to effectively facilitate Clients’ groups on critical topics. Members of the International Association of Facilitators are committed to using these values and ethics to guide their professional practice.

Statement of values

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    Statement of Values

    As group facilitators, we believe in the inherent value of the individual and the collective wisdom of the group. We strive to help the group make the best use of the contributions of each of its members. We set aside our personal opinions and support the group's right to make its own choices. We believe that collaborative and cooperative interaction builds consensus and produces meaningful outcomes. We value professional collaboration to improve our profession.

Code of Ethics

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    1. Client Service

    We are in service to our clients, using our group facilitation competencies to add value to their work.
    Our clients include the groups we facilitate and those who contract with us on their behalf. We work closely with our clients to understand their expectations so that we provide the appropriate service, and that the group produces the desired outcomes. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are competent to handle the intervention. If the group decides it needs to go in a direction other than that originally intended by either the group or its representatives, our role is to help the group move forward, reconciling the original intent with the emergent direction.

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    2. Conflict of Interest

    We openly acknowledge any potential conflict of interest.
    Prior to agreeing to work with our clients, we discuss openly and honestly any possible conflict of interest, personal bias, prior knowledge of the organisation or any other matter which may be perceived as preventing us from working effectively with the interests of all group members. We do this so that, together, we may make an informed decision about proceeding and to prevent misunderstanding that could detract from the success or credibility of the clients or ourselves. We refrain from using our position to secure unfair or inappropriate privilege, gain, or benefit.

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    3. Group Autonomy

    We respect the culture, rights, and autonomy of the group.
    We seek the group's conscious agreement to the process and their commitment to participate. We do not impose anything that risks the welfare and dignity of the participants, the freedom of choice of the group, or the credibility of its work.

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    4. Processes, Methods, and Tools

    We use processes, methods and tools responsibly.
    In dialogue with the group or its representatives we design processes that will achieve the group's goals, and select and adapt the most appropriate methods and tools. We avoid using processes, methods or tools with which we are insufficiently skilled, or which are poorly matched to the needs of the group.

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    5. Respect, Safety, Equity, and Trust

    We strive to engender an environment of respect and safety where all participants trust that they can speak freely and where individual boundaries are honoured. We use our skills, knowledge, tools, and wisdom to elicit and honour the perspectives of all.

    We seek to have all relevant stakeholders represented and involved. We promote equitable relationships among the participants and facilitator and ensure that all participants have an opportunity to examine and share their thoughts and feelings. We use a variety of methods to enable the group to access the natural gifts, talents and life experiences of each member. We work in ways that honour the wholeness and self-expression of others, designing sessions that respect different styles of interaction. We understand that any action we take is an intervention that may affect the process.

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    6. Stewardship of Process

    We practice stewardship of process and impartiality toward content.
    While participants bring knowledge and expertise concerning the substance of their situation, we bring knowledge and expertise concerning the group interaction process. We are vigilant to minimize our influence on group outcomes. When we have content knowledge not otherwise available to the group, and that the group must have to be effective, we offer it after explaining our change in role.

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    7. Confidentiality

    We maintain confidentiality of information.
    We observe confidentiality of all client information. Therefore, we do not share information about a client within or outside of the client's organisation, nor do we report on group content, or the individual opinions or behaviour of members of the group without consent.

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    8. Professional Development

    We are responsible for continuous improvement of our facilitation skills and knowledge.
    We continuously learn and grow. We seek opportunities to improve our knowledge and facilitation skills to better assist groups in their work. We remain current in the field of facilitation through our practical group experiences and ongoing personal development. We offer our skills within a spirit of collaboration to develop our professional work practices.



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"A coach is not a facilitator. Facilitators work with groups to help them make a decision. An ideal facilitator helps the process, but stays out of it, seldom making suggestions. Once the group has come to a decision or consensus, the facilitator's job is done. The word comes from Latin, meaning 'someone who makes it easy'. A coach is more likely to work one-to-one (which a facilitator never does), and also a coach will bring far more of his or her own personality into the coaching."

(From the book 'How Coaching Works')