Book by Michael Wilkinson
Review by Cathy Kennemer, Ph.D.
Academic Advisor
College of Human Environmental Sciences
Oklahoma State University – Tulsa (Tulsa, OK)

Anyone who has ever attempted to facilitate a group through the process of reaching a consensus has quickly discovered that facilitation is no small or easy task. Advising administrators and advisors alike may be called upon to facilitate groups in order to resolve workplace issues, to determine the most effective office procedures, or perhaps facilitate professional organization change. Michael Wilkinson presents each step of the facilitation process in an easy to follow step-by-step sequence. Wilkinson’s S.M.A.R.T. (Structured Meeting and Relating Techniques) philosophy is based upon eleven principles of facilitation that provide both novice and advanced facilitators with techniques to effectively facilitate groups of all sizes.  

Wilkinson includes case studies at the beginning of each chapter that illustrate the overall point of the principle discussed. In addition, sample dialogues enable the reader to examine examples of both good and bad facilitation techniques. Facilitator checklists, bulleted summaries of the high points of each chapter, are included. These checklists help the reader practice the facilitation steps. Wilkinson masterfully incorporates ways to improve facilitation skills and teaches that the underlying foundation of effective facilitation is helping the group reach their desired objectives.

Advisors and advising administrators seeking to improve their facilitation skills or those asked to facilitate for the first time will find this book a useful reference. While this book was not written specifically for facilitators in educational settings, the techniques presented are appropriate for anyone who is given the charge to assist a group reach its objectives.

The Secrets of Facilitation:  The S.M.A.R.T. Guide to Getting Results with Groups. (2004). Book by Michael Wilkinson. Review by Cathy Kennemer. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 320 pp., $40.00 (hardback) ISBN # 0-7879-7578-8
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