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<xTITLE>A Credo for Facilitators</xTITLE>

A Credo for Facilitators

by Colin Rule

From Colin Rule's blog.

Colin Rule

Peter Adler, head of the Keystone Center and a giant in the field of dispute resolution, recently published a great "credo for facilitators" that he first came up with some years ago. I really like his set of seven beliefs at the end of the credo:
We believe the job of the “facilitator” involves a three way good faith contract that must be honored by (a) those who are sponsoring or convening the process; (b) those who are serving as facilitators of the process; and (c) those who are participating in the facilitated process{...}
We believe that the first duty of a facilitator is to be a servant of the group and the process. This requires trustworthiness and impartiality and a guarantee that all parties will be treated equally and fairly in the discussion or decision seeking process. Facilitators cannot advocate for one party’s point of view and must never participate in any process that is misrepresented as to its purpose or that is intended to circumvent legal processes. Sponsors and participants have the responsibility to help the facilitator maintain his/her impartiality by making them aware of instances in which they appear to be treating people unfairly.
We believe the job of the facilitator is to help groups have difficult and sometimes risky and far reaching conversations that will affect other people, including those who may not be at the table. Collaboration begins with inclusion and participation. While the ultimate responsibility for deciding who is and is not invited to participate in a particular process rests with the convener and sponsor, facilitators have a duty to advocate for the widest representation and fullest participation.
We recognize that important meetings sometimes bring together people of different cultures, backgrounds and experience in public forums. We strive to design and conduct meetings that are sensitive to the cultural norms and expectations of the participants and their experiences in participating in public meetings. Understanding who will participate in meetings is therefore a critical component of process design.
We believe that sponsors and facilitators have a duty to group members to explain fully and completely (a) how decisions in the group will be made; (b) how any generated information will be used and who owns that information when the process is complete; and (c) where the groups activities and decisions will ultimately fit in the life of the issue under consideration. Hierarchy or other circumstances sometimes may mean that the final decision will not be made by the group; if so, this must be made clear from the beginning of the process.
We recognize that process facilitation is ultimately a political act. By “political” we mean that group discussions are usually an attempt to improve the collective good, that they bring together people with different kinds of power, and that they ultimately involve the making of difficult decisions about who gets what, for what purposes, and under what conditions. As facilitators, we assume a role of trusted third party. Throughout all of our work, we strive to increase the group’s productivity, to help create decisions that are fair, efficient, stable, wise, and transparent, to create good “road maps” for the future, and where possible, to heal old hurts and restore good relations. To do these things, we may play different roles. Sometimes we organize. Sometimes we coach. Sometimes we plan.
We believe that the role of the group facilitator can be significant and can help a group achieve great things. It is not a panacea, a way of life, a universal cure, or a therapy. Facilitation has limits, is often not appropriate, and can, when done badly, do tremendous damage. Facilitation therefore should not be done casually or assumed to be trivial. It carries serious responsibilities."
A lot of wisdom in there.


Colin Rule is CEO of Resourceful Internet Solutions, Inc. ("RIS"), home of,,, and a number of additional leading online dispute resolution initiatives.  From 2017 to 2020, Colin was Vice President for Online Dispute Resolution at Tyler Technologies. Tyler acquired, an ODR provider that Colin co-founded, in 2017.  Previously, from 2003 to 2011, Colin was Director of Online Dispute Resolution for eBay and PayPal.  Further, Colin co-founded Online Resolution in 1999, one of the first online dispute resolution (ODR) providers, and served as its CEO and President.  Colin also worked for several years with the National Institute for Dispute Resolution in Washington, D.C. and the Consensus Building Institute in Cambridge, MA.

Colin is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002, and co-author of The New Handshake: Online Dispute Resolution and the Future of Consumer Protection, published by the ABA in 2017. Colin received the first Frank Sander Award for Innovation in ADR from the American Bar Association in 2020, and the Mary Parker Follett Award from the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) in 2013. Colin holds a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a graduate certificate in dispute resolution from UMass-Boston, a B.A. from Haverford College, and Colin served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.  You can read many of Colin's articles and see some of his talks at


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