Mastery Versus Advancing

A discussion on advanced or advancing facilitation – drawing parallels with observations on the development of coaches.

This think piece is extracted from David Clutterbuck and David Megginson’s discussion around defining levels of maturity as a coach. It is possible there are some parallels with the ideas presented by them about the development of facilitators. Many facilitators draw on aspects of their own coaching skills regarding developing the conditions for self-determined learning.

Firstly to add some context: they assert that every learning conversation with a client is unique, and so determines the coaching approach, technique, process or framework. They are concerned that disciplines (for instance the popularism of NLP or Gestalt approaches) should not drive the conversation, however it is the client’s needs that will drive the use of different approaches.

They have coined the term ‘managed eclectic’ as a measure of the relative maturity of a coach or mentor in how they think or behave.

Characteristics of true eclectics are..

  • They do not share a common philosophy; rather they have developed their own philosophy – one which continually expands and adapts, evolving as they absorb new knowledge and ideas
  • They place great importance on understanding a technique, model or process in terms of its foundations within an original philosophy
  • They use experimentation and reflexive learning to identify where and how a new technique, model or process fits into their framework of helping
  • They judge new techniques, models and processes on the criterion of ‘will this enrich and improve the effectiveness of my potential response to client needs?’
  • They use peers and supervisors to challenge their coaching philosophy and as partners in experimenting with new approaches.

There is a suggestion that coaches/ mentors need to journey through four stages of development: The table below compares each level.

Coaching approach: Style: Critical questions for the coach:
Models based Control How do I take them where I think they need to go?How do I adapt my technique to model this circumstance?
Process based Contain How do I give enough control to the client and still retain a purposeful conversation?What’s the best way to apply my process in this instance?
Philosophy based Facilitate What can I do to help the client do this for themselves?How do I contextualise the client’s issues within the perspective of my philosophy or discipline?
Managed Eclectic Enable Are we both relaxed enough to allow the issue and the solution to emerge in whatever way they will?Do I need to apply any techniques or processes at all?

If I do, what does the client context tell me about how to select from the wide choice available to me?


f we take on some of the discussion presented by Megginson and Clutterbuck and place it within the context of facilitation whilst we strive to advance our own understandings, ability and approach, there are some questions:

  • Drawing on our interactions together and the content of the online modules, what helps us here to further define what we mean by an advanced facilitator?
  • How does this link to design for learning in a group context?
  • Given our role in supporting the development of facilitation practice, how can we support the awareness of facilitators to advance to an equivalent of the managed eclectic? What should we do?

What questions does this raise for you?


Clutterbuck, D., & Megginson, D. (2009). Further Techniques for Coaching and Mentoring. Oxford: Elsevier.


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Heutagogy in action

Finding facilitation and heutagogy..

I came to the role and processes of Facilitation through technology first – I had not experienced it face to face – this came later, as did blending the environments so on/off line became of no matter, just focussing on facilitation. This has shaped my beliefs in how we learn greatly and upon finding the concept of Heutagogy a couple of years ago now, I was taken with how it chimed with my own experiences and practice.

In educational leadership we talked al great deal about intentional change – or self-directed learning. This came to life through the work of Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee – particularly in their publication on Resonant Leadership. As a concept it was used more as an androgogical perspective of how we create and tailor our learning agendas as adults, as professionals, as leaders at every level and the need for dialogue and collaboration to achieve our aspirations. Initially it explored less the double loop adopted by heutagogy – i.e. thinking about learning, reflecting about thinking! It relied on a set ‘discoveries’ about who we are now, who we wish to be and who can help. It introduced practicing new behaviours towards developing fresh mastery. A frequent assumption was the role of the facilitator being a guardian of the learning and a content specialist; this could lead to hierarchical, directive relationships where the balance between learner and facilitator was out of kilter – anecdotal moments where solutions were provided, not generated.

Over time however the really good facilitators recognised the need to empower learners through metacognition and double loop learning, and it became an integral aspect of process – many of these facilitators were practicing coaches and took a non-directive stance towards their relationship with learners. I saw this as fundamental to their own development as facilitators too where a great deal of time was being given to reflection on what happened during an event, how it happened and how learners needs were being met through the behaviour of facilitators. Impact became very important – not just on the leadership learners, but on children and young people they served. A stronger moral agenda developed its voice. As many began to adopt technologies there too began some fascinating practice where by learners were being encouraged more and more to follow their own path, effectively use technology that supports their learning and collaboration, whilst being given opportunities to reflect on the paths they travelled together. A change of mood toward heutagogy and open spaces for learning.

Foundation stage.. remembering how we can learn when we are little!

I love the feel of a learning space for early years and foundation stages in UK schools. Great spaces, designed for three year olds and filled with textures, role playing, building, reflections of life. Dropping my daughter off in the morning was always interesting. First thing that the children were asked to do was find something they wanted to do. Then the class teacher and other associate staff would move around the room asking children about what they were doing and how they were doing it – facilitation. This isn’t pedagogy in its formal guise, its mini-heutagogy in action, and as adults we need to learn from this too! The children’s minds were untethered and so they could enter into the zone and choice of method for themselves. I often worry that we lose this freedom and creativity as adults, and there is a lot of unlearning or reframing of ourselves that needs to be done before we get to self-determination. Perhaps we could do with more time with 3 year olds, and they could ask us too: “what do you want to learn today?”

A colleague of mine asked this question with a group of leaders visiting from India. He had a workshop to deliver, and began with giving them 30 minutes to do something they really wanted to do individually. No constraints, just using the technology at hand. For 30 minutes the freedom they experienced unshackled them from a possible fear of learning, the new space and cultural context they were in, and they were motivated, many in a state of absolute flow. Then the group shared some of their outcomes and revisited the nature of the process they had experienced – he described it as a powerful moment for himself as facilitator and them as leaders. I feel this is a great example of how we can promote and develop understanding of heutagogy – it does not need to be complex, but does need freedom.



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Zone of flow

Being in a Zone of Flow

Where in your every day life do you feel really happy? 

What makes you feel that it is worth doing things that make your life meaningful? 

These questions are about recognising the mental state that we experience when we are fully immersed in an activity: where a positive and energised focus is acheived.

Being in a zone of flow is very strongly linked to performing well and learning effectively, and is underpinned by several factors that influence the ability to find this state.  These factors describe our inner state as a person in flow, and are:

  • intense and focused concentration on the present moment
  • merging of action and awareness
  • a loss of reflective self-consciousness
  • a sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
  • a distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered
  • experience of the activity as intrinsically rewarding and motivating

FlowPartners seeks to support the development of our self-awareness and motivation to a point where we are engaging in activities that lead to a state of flow: where we are strongly motivated, have a moral purpose and are performing well.  We seek to design, develop and deliver activities that will help improve your skill set to be able to reach a state of flow too, or to help you help others to do so.

Conditions for flow

To be effective in the zone of flow we need to develop a set of conditions around the activities we are engaging with:

  • Knowing what to do
  • Knowing how to do it
  • Knowing how well you are doing
  • Knowing where to go (if navigation is involved)
  • High perceived challenges
  • High perceived skills
  • Freedom from distractions

Our first question to you is: What do you want to learn today?

There are some select topics or concepts that are about developing and practiciing new awarenesses and are not bound to a singualr profession but bound to our inner selves as people, learners and professionals.    We also plan to run a short course in knowledgehub to support deeper collaboration and exploration of the following themes presented in this table

Motivation Appreciative enquiry
Collaboration – group flow Coaching conditions and skills
Integrating flow into your working day Technology for learning

More articles relating to the zone of flow will be published soon

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Motivation – what do you want to do today?!

Motivation is our explanation of why we do what we do – or not. Motivation represents the reasons for our actions, either before or after actions are taken or not taken, and the needs or desires which prompt them. We call those needs or desires ‘motives’ – the prompts for actions or likely behaviours.

Our motivation to do something – to learn, to act, to participate – depends on our internal ‘health’ and resultant response to the situation in which we find ourselves.

In the 1950s Abraham Maslow related our motivation to a Hierarchy of Needs, suggesting that we must satisfy each of these needs (from the most basic needs for survival, such as food and shelter) in turn, and only when our essential needs for our own wellbeing are met will we need and therefore seek to satisfy our desire for more, for example self-esteem, independence and self-fulfilment.

People talk about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation – motivating factors coming from within us or from externals. Perhaps these relate directly to our needs – so if our essential needs are not being satisfied we might crave extrinsic factors, such as more money to buy food. However, it may be that the real need that is not being satisfied is the intrinsic motivator, the increased self-esteem we crave, and we are relating that to being given a bigger salary…

Also in the 1950s Frederick Herzberg produced important research on motivators and hygiene factors – suggesting that motivators are those aspects of our work that give us high satisfaction, whilst hygiene factors are those aspects of our work that can create dissatisfaction. He revealed a contrast between the two, emphasising that it is not the presence or absence of any one factor that affects our motivation, but rather the greater or lesser presence of some and the greater or lesser absence of others.

More recently Daniel Goleman has linked our ability to motivate ourselves and to create the conditions for others to find motivation to our emotional intelligence. He suggests that self-motivation is a part of self-management, whereby we mobilise our positive emotions to drive forward our intention to achieve. What he does not necessary explain is how or why we might want to achieve!


There are lots of resources on the internet designed to help you ‘test’ your motivation. Print off and complete this self-motivation quiz – but rather than getting hung up on the scores and their interpretation, go through your responses to each statement and take a moment to reflect:

  • What was I thinking about when I gave this score?

  • Why did that experience or aspect of my life prompt me to give that score?

  • What different circumstance or attitude might have altered that score?

  • If I would like to alter that score in future, what would I need to do?

External links

businessballs on motivation

humanistic orientations to learning

learning theory

If you liked learning about this, you might also want to learn about

appreciative enquiry



flow at work

technology for flow

These activities are part of In Flow, a KnowledgeHub experience designed to help you recognise what it feels like to be positive, energised and fully immersed in an activity, and to create the conditions to achieve that state more often in your personal and professional life

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Leadership Coaching – moral purpose or a means to an end?

‘Coaching is a new big thing in leadership’ – in fact, it pervades so much of what you’ll find in leadership programmes and in thinking that, that statement is probably well out-of-date.  Many leaders participate in a coaching exercise during assessment and development centres, and you may have your own coach as you continue your journey in your own leadership career.

So, is coaching a moral purpose in leadership or a means to an end?

pdf 28x28  Read more about our thinking in Coaching for Leaders

Flowpartners beleive the principles of coaching are that

  • the agenda is that of the coachee, not the coach
  • the coachee has the ability within themselves to address that agenda
  • coaching is the joint responsibility of coach and coachee.

We have a team of expert accredited coaches who work across sectors coaching at all levels.  If you are considering developing a coaching culture in your organisation, we can develop a programme of development and work with you to develop a strategic approach toward embedding coaching effectively.

Contact us

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Free Range Facilitation

I have seen the future of online learning and its free-range

We may be seeing a paradigm shift in e-learning. Major providers of  learning providers have made content freely available online and we are now in the era  of MOOCS ( massive open online courses), of free courses and modules, TED lectures and Youtube etc. Is there still a valid role for formal courses with expensive fees, subject expert tutors, online facilitators? Are adult learners now self-directed learners going solo in the global e-learning world?

pdf 28x28 Read more in this short article Free range facilitation


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Your rights as a learner

“Powerful stuff” came the first response to Christine’s group mail surfacing Hybrid Pedagogy’s recent article on A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age.

The important note to listen to in their thinking is the need to make learning meaningful whilst dealing with globally massive access.  The rise of the MOOC model presents many challenges to the learner, and as a consequence questions around what a learner should be entitled to.

From our perspective this further emphasises the need to develop effective facilitation strategies and processes to support learners effectively in all contexts so that they can manage their aspirations, focus on the meaningful and develop as a motivationally concious people.

Stay in touch to hear more about our thoughts.

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