В этом месяце вышла моя заметка в Вестнике Международной ассоциации фасилитаторов об истории фасилитации в нашей стране.
From Veche to Russia today, Ariadna Denisova
Facilitation is a relatively new profession in Russia. Its modern history could be traced since 90s, when different foreign training companies conducted training on facilitation here. One of the first companies that invited foreign facilitators was “Intertraining” – NGO, that specialized mostly on work with non-commercial sector. Since 2000 ICA’s ToP facilitation methods were presented in Russia. After that methods of facilitation began their journey through Russian vastness.
Facilitation methods go back a long time in the ancient history of the country. While we don’t know exactly what methods of meeting facilitation were used, we know for certain that there were some tools for decision making, that afterwards became the base for the next developments. For example, the most famous meetings in Russian history were Chamber or Veche in Russian. This was the national assembly and an integral part of the socio-political mechanism of the ancient society. Composition of Veche assembly was socially homogeneous: there were ordinary people, and the «best», i.e the nobility. The Veche assembly responsibility included a wide range of issues, from raising funds for the urban militia and recruitment of military units to the expulsion or the election of the prince. Later on, during Soviet Union period, it was not usual to engage people in decision making, so facilitation methods were not promoted.
Today facilitation is more actively used by Russian trainers and facilitators. There are a growing number of facilitators that are members of IAF. Some of them are IAF certified facilitators. But comparing with Europe or USA, the number of facilitators in Russia is pretty small. Most of them live in Moscow or Saint Petersburg. When you mention “facilitation” in Russia, you often will meet surprise and questions, and this small group of facilitators are doing a great job of bringing the art of facilitation home.
It is interesting to note that businesses are the first to welcome facilitation methods in Russia. We don’t see this happening in NGOs or communities yet. Russian business operates in a very complex and constantly changing situation. That is why the questions of organisational development and change management are extremely current issues for companies. And they seek methods that could help in transforming internal conditions and adapting to the changing environment. Facilitation is of great help here. That is why the theme of business facilitation is very attractive and people from business are eager to take part in the IAF Conference that will take place in Moscow in October 2014.
Facilitation being an emerging profession, there is also a huge need of facilitation methods presentation. The facilitation literature in the Russian language is not rich, and there are very few translated books from this domain. This creates a vacuum in the knowledge base that trainers can make use of. So we will be welcoming here professionals who would like to share their experience. They will be met by appreciative listeners here, I bet.
Russia is a big country and our companies operate in different locations in the regions and other countries. So, the use of virtual meeting technologies is growing. And with it, the need of virtual facilitation methods is increasing. Some of our facilitators will present their cases of successful application in practice, and we would welcome other experiences of the use of virtual facilitation in other countries too. The demand for virtual meetings has led to the birth of several Russian startups that have developed exciting applications for virtual meetings and we are looking forward to showcase and present them to you during the conference.
In conclusion I’d like to stress that though facilitation is pretty young in Russia, it is developing like mad. And we are glad to meet all the colleagues who would like to contribute to its maturity.