Stratos leads the way in designing and facilitating meaningful conversations in a complex world

Today’s most challenging sustainability and natural resource problems are increasingly not so much about the technical issues, but rather about understanding, appreciating and navigating the diverse perspectives and needs of the parties involved.

Whether it is designing and supporting a multi-interest dialogue around challenges facing Canada’s natural resource development projects, navigating the implementation of an Impact Benefit Agreement between a First Nation and a mining company, or bringing together parties to co-create action plans to achieve government’s sustainability commitments, Stratos is well-equipped to deliver exceptional facilitation support.

Increasingly, we are seeing a growing expectation and need for collaborative engagement, where multiple parties and diverse partners are brought together to have the conversations they really need to have. The ability to help groups share their perspectives, find connections and synergies, and ultimately reach a deeper understanding or consensus is increasingly required.

In order to support our clients and the important conversations they need to have, our team works hard to stay on top of (and help to drive) best practices in workshop design and facilitation techniques. Leading our facilitation practice is Barb Sweazey, a certified professional facilitator with the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). Barb has facilitated dozens of multi-interest dialogues both in Canada and internationally for more than 10 years, and is recognized for her deep expertise in planning and guiding complex and often highly sensitive conversations. She also nurtures the facilitation skills of other Stratos team members, by mentoring and offering guidance to those developing their facilitation expertise. Barb has presented at the IAF conferences held in Canada in both 2012 and 2015, and is the Co-Chair for IAF North American conference being held in Ottawa in May 2018. These global conferences bring together hundreds of professional facilitators from around the world to share best practices, new approaches, and facilitation technologies.

Barb recently facilitated a workshop in beautiful Portland, Maine (see the photo accompanying this insight) on North Atlantic Arctic shipping and trade. The workshop gathered people from Iceland, Greenland, the UK, Norway, the US and Canada. Workshop participants from these diverse northern countries expressed great appreciation for the creative and constructive workshop design and facilitation that made space for new relationships to be nurtured and shared challenges to be tackled together.

Another way Stratos fosters a culture of continuous learning and improved facilitation delivery is to support the formal training of our consultants in workshop design and facilitation techniques. For example, Lauri Lidstone, one of our consultants, recently took a week-long facilitation training in Toronto offered by the International Cultural Association. Lauri found the hands-on course to be “an inspiring learning experience of how to build group consensus, deal with conflict, and tap into the psychology of how group discussion occurs in order to facilitate successful meetings and workshops. Lauri is now sharing her new found skills with the Stratos team and is working towards her professional designation in facilitation.

By striving for accreditation, learning from other facilitation professionals around the globe, supporting the professional development our team members, and partnering with specialized partners, we are able to help our clients and partners design and facilitate more effective and meaningful conversations. Such engagements not only help  our clients achieve their goals, but even more importantly they help to deepen and nature relationships among partners and drive forward to more sustainable outcomes.