All trainers find themselves in the role of facilitator—some more than others. In fact, some organizations use the terms “trainer” and “facilitator” interchangeably. If you or those in your organization are called on to lead problem-solving meetings, team-building sessions, or are otherwise put in a position to design or lead meetings, visit the Facilitation Factory.

This site, provided by Calian, a large consulting firm in Canada, is designed to support facilitators and has quite a grand goal:

“Our vision is to have thousands of facilitators working together to advance the knowledge of facilitation around the world.”

This site approaches this goal with both free and members-only sections. There are four major portions of the site:

  1. The Source
  2. The Facilitators’ Forum
  3. The Facilitators’ Coach
  4. Resources

The Source
The Source is the members-only section of this site. If you don’t want to pay the U.S. $99 annual fee, or if you want to look and see what you get for that fee, you have two options. You can get immediate access to a subset of the material or a 24-hour trial membership. Whichever one you choose to explore, you will be impressed by the array of ideas included. This section is driven by a Lotus Notes database and is easy to navigate to find what you need.

Among the topic areas included are Definitions, Facilitation Concepts, Quotes, Homework Exercises, Workshop Exercises, and Interview Questions. If you do a significant amount of facilitation or teach a workshop on facilitation, you will gain much value from this section.

The Forum
The Forum is the most content rich of the site’s free portions. It contains three subsections. “Facilitate this!” contains a current survey question pertinent to facilitators that you can answer. There are also archives of past questions. Once you weigh in with your response, you can see the tally of responses so far. Past questions are archived with the results available. As an example, here is one of the archived questions (and the answers!):

What is the ideal number of participants for a break out group?

Choice Responses
1-3 71
4-6 254
7-9 121
10-12 71

A group of articles on facilitation topics, called “The Magazine Rack,” is another subsection. Currently, there are about 20 articles in topic areas, including Change Management, Facilitation, and Learning. The overall quality of these articles is high and well worth your inspection. Additionally, you are encouraged to submit your article for inclusion. This is a good opportunity to have your thoughts seen by the community of facilitators who use this site.

The third subsection is a chat area. While I did not investigate this area at length, it seems to be a good opportunity to network if chatting works for you (and you find others online at the same time you are). You could also have a group of colleagues plan to meet here at the same time to chat about business matters in a business-like area, rather than in a general chat room.

The Coach
This section largely provides Calian a chance to describe their two two-day workshops. There is, however, a section on “What is facilitation,” which is a good primer for new trainers that might be useful as you share more about the role of facilitation with management in your organization.

The Resources section provides link archives of an excellent e-zine on facilitation (and the opportunity to subscribe), a link to the site for IAF (the International Association of Facilitators), and to nine other sites relevant to facilitation.

If all the links are of that quality, this list alone warrants a visit. Rest assured that if they are, you will see them reviewed here in future weeks! (Note: Upon my review of this area, I noticed that my company’s site—the Discian Group—is included as well—what a pleasant surprise!)

Final impressions
Overall, this is a very impressive and useful site. While part of the site carries a membership fee, which may be a barrier to some, the rest of the site contains top-flight content well worth a bookmark. As a professional trainer and facilitator, I consider the content of this site to be some of the most relevant and useful of any I have seen. Point your browser here and prepare to benefit, the download time for some of the pages notwithstanding. Figure A shows the summary of my review.

Table A
Here’s Kevin’s summary of his review of

To comment on this review or to recommend a great Web site for trainers for a future review, please post a comment below or send Kevin a note.