Posts Tagged ‘18DFS’

6D Fun From Facilitators!

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Much of the talk these days as to whether entertainment is impactive is whether it is 2D, 3D or even 4D. Well, a 4D facilitator is reasonable, but the very best are 6D! Are you?

If 6CIA is good for coaches, then the 6 Dimensions of Facilitator Style (6DFS, or sometimes 18DFS) is great for trainers and facilitators! This model was developed by John Heron to complement 6CIA, and create a helping tool for people working with groups as opposed to individuals.

Whereas 6CIA has just the 6 Categories, 6DFS has 6 Dimensions (you will see some similarities with the 6CIA Categories) together with 3 Modes.

Heron used the Modes to describe the exercise of power in the running of the group by the facilitator – moving from Hierarchical, where all the power is with the trainer, through to Autonomous where the group has the freedom to finds its own way. As each Mode can be combined with each Dimension, this gives eighteen possible combinations (hence why it is sometimes called 18DFS).

As I explained in a previous post, I find that one of the best ways of explaining this model is to imagine, as a trainer, you have a ‘mixer’ – as a producer would use when recording music. On the producer’s mixer there are 6 controls managing the loudness or softness of each instrument making up the track, which they can change as they see fit – thus enabling them to create the perfect sound. As a trainer, change the instruments to Dimensions, and the loudness / softness control to the Modes. You then use your mixer to set the Dimensions and Modes at their appropriate level for the needs of the group, amending them as you see fit.

Here’s an explanation of the Modes and Dimensions:


Hierarchical: Power resides with the facilitator who directs and acts on behalf of the group – leading from the front on behalf of the group. The facilitator makes decisions, interprets, gives meaning, challenges, etc for the group and takes on responsibility for all the dimensions described below (“does it for the group”).

Co-operative: Shared responsibility and power with the facilitator ollaborating with the group in the management of the different dimensions. All views are valid and the facilitator’s view is not final. It is part of an agreed or negotiated outcome (“does it with the group”). The facilitator prompts and helps the group when dealing with the different dimensions.

Autonomous: Here the group has the freedom to find its own way with little or no intervention from the facilitator – as the facilitator is respecting the autonomy of the group. This doesn’t mean that the facilitator has a purely passive role, but works to create an environment and conditions whereby he group is self-directing (“gives it to the group”). The facilitator has created an environment and the space for self-directed learning.


Planning: The aims and plans of the group and what should happen to achieve these. It involves the consideration of objectives, methods, resources, times, assessment and evaluation.

Meaning: How the group acquires understanding and makes sense of the learning. This includes the assessment process. Covers different sort of learning – e.g. ideas, theories, experiential. Knowledge, understanding, skills, attitudes and behaviours.

Confronting: Dealing with resistance in the group that can hamper the learning. This can come about through habit, anxiety, inexperience, wanting to take an easier route, etc.

Feeling: The management of feelings and emotions within the group and enabling catharsis. The emotions can be positive and/or negative, but need managing so that they create learning and growth and, where necessary energy is redirected.

Structuring: The implementation of decisions regarding the design and methods used. How best to carry out and structure the learning activities that the group will be involved in.

Valuing: Creating the appropriate environment in which the learning will take place. An environment where people feel valued, can be authentic, can shares concerns openly, can disclose their needs and interests, increase their self-respect and are therefore able to thrive.

I find a great way to use this model is when training trainers or when reflecting on a day’s facilitation. I have a grid with Modes along one Axis and Dimensions along the other – let me know if you would like a copy – and then make a note of where the facilitator or trainer is (or was if it is my reflections) at different times of the day. Was I in the right Mode? Did I spend too long in one Dimension? Were there any Dimensions I didn’t operate in, and if so, is that a problem? Where do I need to be operating from tomorrow / the next time I run such a session?

Try it – I’m sure you‘ll find it valuable. Find out if you are 6D!