chapter  1
The origins of the facilitator role
ByMike Robson, Ciarán Beary
Pages 5

The term facilitator first came to prominence with the introduction into the West of Quality Circles in the late 1970s. Quality Circles are a mechanism for encouraging the involvement of the workforce in problem-solving and improvement. Groups of employees working for the same supervisor or first line manager meet voluntarily on a weekly basis to identify, analyse and solve their own work-related problems. It was soon realized that if such a process was to work, the members and leaders of such groups needed to receive training in elementary problem-solving skills, and that this would best be provided 'in situ' during the course of the weekly meetings. The importance of the role in supporting Quality Circles was quickly appreciated, and it became a standard feature of introducing this particular approach. Unfortunately though, poor or non-existent training in understanding facilitation and developing the necessary skills, contributed to the early demise of Quality Circles in many organizations.