Title of ArticleAppreciative dialogue for co-facilitation in action research and practice development
Type of ArticleCritical Reflection on Practice Development
Author/sBelinda Dewar and Cathy Sharp
ReferenceVolume 3, Issue 2, Article 7
Date of PublicationNovember 2013
Keywordsaction research, animation, appreciative dialogue, co-facilitation, co-production, facilitation, inquiry, practice development

Aim: The aim of this article is to discuss the role of appreciative dialogue in facilitation of practice development and action research. The authors discuss the definition of facilitation and the lack of specific guidance about the ‘how’ of facilitation. They propose the approach of appreciative dialogue as an important contribution to supporting those involved in developing the practice of co-facilitation. An approach to appreciative dialogue is highlighted – the 7Cs of caring conversations.

Conclusions: The authors conclude that this approach helps to liberate, legitimise and share the emotional and tacit elements of the work, enhance the quality and participation in the dialogue and provide appreciative feedback about what works well as a basis for tackling further issues and difficulties. They suggest that facilitation incorporates the process of animation where appreciative dialogue motivates participants to identify existing good practice, brings this to life and propels mutual learning and collaborative action. This helps to shift from an implicit facilitator-led process to a shared and dynamic facilitative process that supports the embedding of change and practice development. Appreciative dialogue also has important implications for many areas of professional practice that seek to work in more strengths or assets based ways and promote co-production through more active engagement of both clients and staff in service design and delivery. Through supporting change for practitioners it creates new and wider challenges for organisations and the wider systems of which they are a part.

Implications for practice:

  • Provides feedback about what is working well as a basis for forward development and motivation
  • Provides a framework for questioning and co-analysis that is crucial to developing skills of facilitation
  • Supports a shift from facilitator-led to a co-production model, where there is active engagement in service design and delivery

This article by Belinda Dewar and Cathy Sharp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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