Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making

Third Edition

Meetings should be much more than merely an occasion for solving a problem. Every meeting is also an opportunity to build the capacity of the group. This book guides readers through the struggle and the satisfaction of creating effective group decision-making. 

432 pages. ©2014.
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Reader Reviews for this Book


Review posted January 10, 2023


Great facilitation strategies with easy to read graphics! Highly recommend.


Review posted January 4, 2023


Very informative with a lot of different ideas on how to facilitate different kinds of meetings depending on the decisions you need to make or what kind of a group you have. There's also an entire chapter on overcoming challenges in meetings-which is really helpful!

William Anderson

Review posted October 11, 2022


What an amazing book! I highly recommend this!


Review posted September 12, 2022


This is an excellent book for unpacking step by step the differences processes for collaboration. I really like the illustrations because they allow the learning to be both verbal and visual. If you are looking for ways to create the environment for participatory decision making I recommend this book.


Review posted September 10, 2022


This guide had practical tools for improving facilitation with multiple perspectives.


Review posted September 8, 2022


This guide is so useful in helping to lead groups through participatory decision making. I used it with teachers and administrators to make district-wide decisions that met the needs of all stakeholders. The strategies are useful and explained to be applied to whatever circumstances a group is working with.


Review posted August 18, 2022


Great tools to practice participatory decision making.


Review posted August 9, 2022


As a beginning facilitator of meetings, this book was very helpful and will continue to be helpful in our support group here. It was simple and easy to follow.


Review posted May 18, 2022


A good read. Valuable for our shared leadership in non-profit work.

Rachel Nelson

Review posted May 17, 2022


This is a great resource for my library. It's a very in-depth look at things.


Review posted April 28, 2022


This book is to be kept close on your planning shelf. There are many tools to use to facilitate groups depending on your meeting goals. Over the period of months, you may work to lead a variety of groups, and the meeting goals might have different needs. There are distinctive tools and activities to meet the needs of each type of goal, and includes tools as the group's norms change over time. The dynamics group decision-making section uses excellent graphics to demonstrate group dynamics, making it easier to put into practice goals and outcomes.

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Review posted April 19, 2022


This book has supported me in group facilitation and empowered me to hold more collaborative conversations.


Review posted April 13, 2022


Not quite what I was looking for, but then reading gave me some really good ideas moving forward, so definitively worth it!

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Review posted March 23, 2022


While this guide had many hands-on resources and worksheets, I did not find it as useful as I expected.


Review posted February 17, 2022


Comprehensive guide for a wide range of design and facilitation decisions! Not new enough to be "Zoom-informed," but still extremely useful to have on your shelf.


Review posted January 25, 2022


The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making is a terrific book that is well laid out and easy to read and use! It includes educational items such as dynamics of group decision-making, participatory values, facilitator fundamentals, sustainable agreements, and reaching closure. Copyrighted in 2014, the material is relevant to today's discussions and challenges in facilitating issues. I would highly recommend this book for non-profits seeking to make and support changes within their organizations.


Review posted November 29, 2021


This book surpassed my expectations. I was expecting some basics on facilitation and a few activities. This book is full of activities. I am starting work with a new group and will be using activities to move us forward. I especially like the section on working with different personalities and how to engage those folks and/or discourage them from taking over the conversation


Review posted November 23, 2021


This is an easy to read how to book that is great for new managers and leaders. It's been a quick reference to figure out new strategies as I work with my teams when I want them to be part of the decision making process. It helps with buy in and morale.


Review posted November 13, 2021


Great to have for any facilitator or group project coordinator.

shannon lipscomb

Review posted November 9, 2021


This is a practical guide with many tangible graphics, prompts, and tips! I love how it includes a whole chapter on sustainable agreements and then moves into facilitating within various "zones" in which we can find ourselves in group dynamics. My only complaint is that the book is long and complex; it's a lot to get through so that's a barrier to having many people read it and engage in dialogue about the very helpful fundamentals, strategies, and principles.

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Review posted October 28, 2021


I have incorporated informatiion to the practice of work experience. It has been helpful.


Review posted October 27, 2021


This is a very helpful guide, from the most very basic facilitating skills (tips for chart writing) to more complex facilitator techniques such as how to gracefully handle non-relevant distractions to the work. I have found that I need some guidance on group facilitation, and this hits the mark for exactly what I was looking for. I'll use it over and over again when guiding groups to make good decisions! Thank you for this resource!


Review posted October 1, 2021


This book is a great resource. It has especially come in handy when starting a new initiative with a group of people with diverse perspectives.


Review posted September 8, 2021


This is an extremely helpful text that gives the developing facilitator the details they need to really grow in their craft. This is definitely worth the read and study. The practical suggestions were beneficial for working with my board and working with community groups. It is a must for people who convene and facilitate meetings.


Review posted August 17, 2021


This guide was incredibly helpful in understanding the different dynamics that impact group work and collaboration. The different diagrams that explained the positives and negatives of collaboration when in a group setting was a great way for me to learn more about how to better support collaboration and invite participants into the conversations regarding decision making.


Review posted August 13, 2021


Neatly organized, easy to read, full of information.


Review posted July 16, 2021


What a wealth of information! Should be on every facilitator and leader’s bookshelf


Review posted July 8, 2021


This is an excellent resource guide for both novice and more experienced facilitators. I expect that I will revisit the techniques, definitions, and activities listed within for years to come.


Review posted June 8, 2021


This book was recommended by other rural community builders. My first thought when it arrived: Why did I choose a lengthy text book as my first Select Book when there are so many others on my to-read list? Thoughts shortly after diving in: I feel so seen. How do I upload all these effective meeting techniques into my brain permanently? I can think of SO many meeting situations that would have benefited from these simple-to-follow pages. Where I am now: Has anyone made forearm-sized temporary tattoos of these sheets? Meanwhile…looking up temporary tattoo printer paper and flip charts. Moral of my story: if you aim to facilitate meetings effectively, don’t be intimidated by the textbook appearance of this Select Book. You can learn so much from the sections that are relevant to your particular meeting challenges, and you’ll likely get hooked & read it all.


Review posted May 18, 2021


A fantastic resource book...one that should be kept in your library forever! Hundreds of pages of interactive worksheets, activities and suggested meeting formats. How to guides on improving meeting collaboration, encouraging public participation, building facilitation skills, and more. Whether you are in business, government, nonprofit service or community building this one is a winner!


Review posted April 28, 2021


Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making is a very useful book. It has actual steps, outlines, and procedures to put into practice immediately. This will be a book I return to over and over again. Thank You!


Review posted April 14, 2021


I found this to be an easy to read and follow book on facilitation skills, engagement activities, special situations such as conflict and confusions and reaching consensus. I learned many practical tips for facilitating in small or large groups. Not everyone is a natural facilitator, and this book certainly would help either a beginner or seasoned presenter/facilitator.


Review posted April 13, 2021




Review posted February 25, 2021


Facilitating "good" meetings can be so challenging and we often default to "no feedback means we all agree", which isn't true. This book is really helpful in laying out common meeting challenges and how we can work through them for better collaboration and engagement. So incredibly helpful!


Review posted February 11, 2021


WOW. Every manager needs to read this book. It's changed the way we run meetings and gather feedback from staff.


Review posted January 21, 2021


Jon D. Nutter Book Review Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making, Third Edition. Kaner, Sam et al. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco: 2014 “One of the great insights of the 20th century is this: sitting down in a small face-to-face group is, potentially, transformative.” (xxv) Summary Statement: Models of group decision making have been inadequate and unrealistic. A more realistic model combined with four core values and appropriate strategies produces better decisions. Facilitation is key to implementing values and executing strategies to get these better results. Outline: Part I: Grounding Principles Part II: Facilitator Fundamentals Part III: Sustainable Agreements Part IV: Facilitating Sustainable Agreements Part V: Reaching Closure The book is both textbook and practitioner’s resource filled with tips, tools and techniques rooted in research and experience. It is a guidebook meant not just to instruct a facilitator but to inform and equip group participants to reach closure on decisions and enact sustainable agreements between participants. 4 Core Values of Participatory Decision-Making • Full Participation • Mutual Understanding • Inclusive Solutions • Shared Responsibillity The Facilitator’s Role – “Supports a group to do its best thinking” Dynamics of Group Decision Making • Divergent Zone • Groan Zone • Convergent Zone • Closure Zone It is in the groan zone where effective facilitation integrates and includes participants while helping them discover and decide on solutions Closure Zone Steps 1. End the discussion 2. Write a proposal on a flipchart 3. Poll the group members 4. Use the group’s decision rule to reach a final decision This zone may sometimes be “navigated quickly and informally… but in the long run… groups will benefit from an explicit, formal decision rule – even if they use it only occasionally.” I found this guidance and the discussion of decision rules invaluable. I found chapters 10-11 on agendas, outcomes and the logic models helpful. While not new information for my, it provided some really good tips and tools for understanding, and communicating a meeting’s purpose, as well as conducting it in a way that reinforces that purpose. I would give this book a 4 of 5 on a 5-star system with respect to the content and readability. It is a technical book but is accessible for those who are novices while remaining practical for those with more experience and practice. I have made it a prominent reference book in my library and have already begun implementing practices as well as employing tools from it. I would recommend it heartily to those who have the responsibility of leading groups to decisions.


Review posted January 18, 2021


A great guide to anyone that wants to change the way groups make decisions. Especially helpful when the decision before the group is more contentious but applicable in all settings.


Review posted January 12, 2021


Informative but not light reading. Feels like a textbook with lots of information and not suitable to read while relaxing.


Review posted January 7, 2021


this was a good book with very helpful information.


Review posted January 6, 2021


This book has changes how we run meetings


Review posted November 4, 2020


A great book with abundant resources! A must have for any facilitator.


Review posted August 4, 2020


Very helpful.


Review posted June 11, 2020


I work in collaborative governance, and facilitate groups of all shapes and sizes. I found this book most helpful in process, skills, tips, and tricks in regards to participatory decision-making. Thanks so much for making such a valuable resource available.


Review posted June 9, 2020


Great resource! I recommended this book to all of the trainers I work with and encouraged them to order it as well. The guide is easy to follow and the section regarding some of the soft skills of facilitation is great - we often don't focus on how to draw out everyone in the room and make sure we make space for participation in order to truly get to the most creative and innovative solution. I also appreciate the foundation of building trust and how this is so important to truly tap into the most creative solutions, pushing against the status quo and avoiding only listening to the loudest in the room.


Review posted June 3, 2020


This book provides clear guidance on how to collectively make decisions - when to allow space for brainstorming, and when to move to tangible action. The tools were particularly helpful for our strategic planning meetings.


Review posted May 21, 2020


This is a fantastic resource I found particularly useful for supporting executives, managers, middle-managers and general staff in learning to listen and enhance communication skills in order to achieve mutually-beneficial goals.


Review posted May 15, 2020


So thorough! From creating charts to crafting agendas to addressing thorny issues, this book has so much helpful information. Would absolutely recommend to anyone who facilitates group meetings!


Review posted May 4, 2020


This book had a lot of great information on how to plan and conduct a group presentations. A lot of information about presenting information in an engaging way, and about how to get participants invested in learning. Another plus is that the font size in the book is very large and easy on the eyes


Review posted February 25, 2020


Appreciate the blend of grounding principles, and specific, practical suggestions of various tactics. Will keep the on the corner of my desk, handy for use by our entire project management department.


Review posted February 20, 2020


This book presents facilitation concepts in a way that is straightforward and easy to understand. It is best as an introductory book as it focuses on basic concepts. Despite being a 400-page book, the number of distinct concepts presented is limited. At times, the number of pages devoted to a single concept seems excessive.


Review posted February 13, 2020


I am an experienced manager but have been focusing on working with my team to use our time together efficiently and develop a process to make decisions and plan together. This book provided a solid framework and tools to assist in that process.


Review posted February 1, 2020


I highly recommend this book to anyone called upon to facilitate meetings. The book is divided into 5 parts; Grounding Principals, Facilitator Fundamentals, Sustainable Agreements, Facilitating Sustainable Agreements, and Reaching Closure. The information is presented in an organized and understandable way. This book should be on every facilitator's reading list!


Review posted January 24, 2020


Practical and easily accessible, this is a a great guide for engaging in the decision-making process and facilitating difficult conversations.


Review posted January 17, 2020


Very thorough. I look forward to diving in and using these tools in my groups.


Review posted January 15, 2020


What a wonderful resource and tool for anyone involved with groups. This book not only explains the importance of participatory group decision-making as well as principles, but also provides the tools to help facilitate to that decision point. I love that they also give very useable and practical information on things like how to record on a flip chart for the chartwriter. I will be looking for more books like this for facilitation in other situations.


Review posted January 8, 2020


Not a book to sit down in a comfortable chair to read. I am using it to help our small group of people to come to decisions that will be beneficial to our community.

Jared Pruch

Review posted January 6, 2020


I regularly facilitate meetings of small groups (4-15 people). This book has really informed how I approach meetings, by providing a framework for various types of meetings (e.g. provide input, share information, advance the thinking, make decisions) and specific, clear and usable tools and templates to use in each setting. It is a treasure trove of resources and concepts for anyone who wants to run more productive and generative meetings. The only improvement I would make is headers/footers that make it easier to navigate the chapters. I am planning to make mine a spiral bound copy with tabs for each section.


Review posted January 1, 2020


Great book. Easy read and good information

onalee Mansor

Review posted December 20, 2019


I facilitate parenting classes and I am chair of a local non profit so this book will be very helpful in both these areas. The book is a great reference and I plan to use it a lot in the upcoming year. Chapter 14 "Classic Facilitator Challenges" addresses very real situations that happen in groups. Very helpful and useful resource!


Review posted December 5, 2019


Comprehensive guide with many layers of tools for a wide variety of circumstances.

Bek Hawley

Review posted November 16, 2019


The book is easy to read, practical and full of useful tools. I'm already finding the concepts helpful and am sharing the book with all committees. Thank you for providing this valuable resource.


Review posted November 4, 2019


I vastly enjoyed the book's diagrams and explanations. They helped to explain exactly what the author was talking about. There are several charts in the book that are laid out in a way that makes them simple to read, comprehend, and to build upon. The book has large font and is easy to read. The only downfall to the book is that I wish it was printed a little smaller, because I'd love to bring it with me to the groups I run, but it's quite bulky. This book gives great advice in a very straightforward way. It's a win-win for everyone.


Review posted October 18, 2019


Decent read with practical information.


Review posted October 10, 2019


This book is packed full of practical skills and techniques. It does a great job of describing in detail different strategies you can use when facilitating groups. It shares both the technique and then offers each step to successfully implement the process. It has so much information and the authors present it in a way that is easy to read and understand. It is a great resources for facilitating meetings.


Review posted September 24, 2019


I used an earlier edition as part of my initial training in 1999. The new edition served as a great refresher, as well as introduced me to new techniques. Hard to improve upon an already excellent book; this edition exceeded my already high expecations.


Review posted September 22, 2019


Really enjoyed this book. It has helped me with my meetings immensely.


Review posted July 11, 2019


This book was very engaging and easy to read. It has an abundance of case studies, charts and examples that are extremely helpful. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that leads or is hoping to lead meetings or groups.


Review posted June 6, 2019


This book is fantastic for people who work as facilitators, are learning facilitation skills or just need better ways to run meets or group discussions. Collaborative decision making has become the way we work. This model give each participant ownership in the outcomes and draws on each persons strengths. Practicing good facilitation, listening, and even agenda building skills can ensure that collaborative processes are successful. This book gives you many good tools, ideas and skills you can use to encourage this type of work. For me, the agenda planning chapter was particularly relevant. I work with member run governance and often interact with Presidents or Chairs around agenda building. The planning chart that identified the roles for each through out the planning process was illuminating and I know will help me far into the future. I know I will use this book as a resource for years to come.


Review posted February 19, 2019


It has lots of helpful information. It is thick and dense like a textbook. It would be more beneficial tied to a training where you get to practice these skills.


Review posted February 6, 2019


This book is helpful in a business sense, but also intriguing as it gives a lot of thought into collaboration.


Review posted February 5, 2019


I just received the book and have already read so much in there. This book is defiantly worth taking a look at. This book helps to demonstrate that meetings are more then just an occasion to solving a problem. it is more of and opportunity to develop perspectives of each individual member of the group. allowing each individual the time to put in their own feelings and answers.


Review posted January 7, 2019


I used this book to improve my skills in guiding 7 step problem solving teams for work. As a facilitator you must gain the trust of the group and create a safe environment for disagreement, opinions while respectfully staying on topic. This book helped me with tools to attain those goals.


Review posted October 27, 2018


there were good nuggets for facilitating meetings, overall book a bit overwhelming. I am using the chapter on divergent thinking, it is very helpful


Review posted October 5, 2018


Great tips for facilitating conversation among of facilitators!

Katie Dwyer

Review posted September 21, 2018


I appreciate the various ways the information is conveyed--that there are diagrams as well as written descriptions. The variety of different approaches to decision-making is extremely valuable.


Review posted September 18, 2018


This book is an all-around great guide for facilitators, no matter the setting, board meetings, townhalls, city council, etc. The format is simple, easy to read, including diagrams, large text making it accessible for most individuals!


Review posted August 27, 2018


This book is a great introduction to facilitation. The language and thought process is easy to read and understand. If you learn by knowing what to do and what not to do and why you shouldn't do it, this is the book for you. There are so many good resources in this book it is one to keep on the resource shelf at our office.


Review posted July 12, 2018


I am really glad that I purchased this book as it has really added to my ability to run trainings as well as committee groups in the workplace. Being able to guide each member of each area really allows me to make sure each voice is heard in a way that they want to be heard.


Review posted July 10, 2018


Super helpful


Review posted May 21, 2018


A great resource for meeting facilitators. This book provides models and tools for participatory decision making. From the smallest meeting to the biggest organization, this book provides a reference and principles to get results and make change.


Review posted May 21, 2018


Good information and reference for tools. The size of the book can be daunting though.


Review posted May 4, 2018


Many useful ideas and suggestions!


Review posted April 2, 2018


Helpful information


Review posted March 22, 2018


This book is a practical guide to use for facilitation in a variety of group dynamics. I will definitely be using this guide to assist the facilitation of a leadership project I'm currently working on with a core committee of students--as well as a leadership class I'll be teaching this summer.


Review posted March 21, 2018


Excellent book, lots of practical ideas laid out in an easy to use and easy to reference format. I will be trying out many of the approaches recommended in future meetings.


Review posted February 23, 2018


Absolutely invaluable information. I have been using the different methods at my company and gathering more information effortlessly.

Brenda Bailey

Review posted February 6, 2018


The book is fairly in-depth and more than I need at this time. I did learn valuable insight into my own obstacles to successful interpersonal communication and group participation. The book has great potential for making significant positive changes in how organizations function.


Review posted January 18, 2018


The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision Making has helped me develop additional and very useful skills to assist my team with working with their employees and keep them motivated. We've used some of the techniques during our all staff meeting to gain employee confidence and participation.


Review posted December 12, 2017


This is a step by step, very detailed explanation of how group decisions can be made together. If you are inclined to analyze and improve your process, this book is for you.


Review posted November 10, 2017


This book is a great entry point for someone who is new to training or facilitating. Or for those who are just scared of it. I myself am not confidant. This gave me some strategies and new ideas of things I can in cooperate into my work.

Diane McWhorter

Review posted September 7, 2017


I found this book to be so useful I have recommended it to all three nonprofit Boards to which I am connected. The simple clear language and framing fits my communities perfectly and the guidance toward how all the participants can work to the same goals makes this book useful for anyone who regularly works with groups to make decisions together. I don't even want to lend my copy out yet, and carry it to many of my meetings. Thank you so much for this book!


Review posted July 5, 2017


This book is a great mix of conceptual understanding of the topic, with practical tools, diagrams, and techniques. I particularly like that the authors let the reader copy pages so long as the user isn't doing so for financial purposes. This makes the book a go-to reference every leader should have. The content is very dense, and may have benefited from a section dedicated to the diagrams for ease of copying by the user. That's a small gripe, and shouldn't stop anyone from getting a copy, and putting it into practice.

Creswell at Home

Review posted June 15, 2017


I'm certain that this volume is valuable for people who actually work regularly as facilitators, but I am not one of them. I am the president of a small non-profit corporation and regularly lead board meetings, but am not a professional facilitator. I found the book to be considerably more detailed than necessary for me to function in my current role. That said, it did contain a lot of valuable information for the right person...


Review posted April 6, 2017


This book was recommended by a friend. I got it as a resource that I could turn to when I needed, whenever that might turn out to be. Well, the book turned out to be immediately useful -- not only for me, as I lead some complex community conversations -- but also for my wife, who works at one of state agencies in Oregon. A resource every bit as valuable as I'd been told.


Review posted March 26, 2017


The “Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making” is packed with considerations for bringing groups together to achieve outcomes. The book includes lists, tables, and graphic representations that guide the reader through the complex process of getting decisions made and including participants in the process. The detailed table of contents and index makes it especially useful for busy people who don’t have time to sit down and read it cover-to=cover. I think that it’s a great tool for my toolkit.


Review posted February 4, 2017


This book came at just the right time as I just started facilitating a new training. I was able to incorporate tangible tools and techniques. Thank you.


Review posted February 1, 2017


I would describe this as a reference guide to facilitating. If you aren't a trained facilitator, reading through this book gives you insights into the "tricks of the trade" of facilitating. I would think it would be most useful to someone with some facilitating training who is looking for a guide or reminder of tools.


Review posted December 28, 2016


wonderful resource! Full of stratigies


Review posted September 14, 2016


How best to describe this book?.... A wonderful tool that should be in every facilitator's toolbox! While full of great information, I think what sets this book apart is how the information is organized and presented. A great mix of charts, tables and lists that make for easy reference points on topics and invite the reader to revisit them time and again. As I stated earlier, this is a tool that you will reach for and use when you are preparing for your next meeting and need some help or ideas.


Review posted August 6, 2016


Very practical hands on book for running and facilitating meetings


Review posted July 19, 2016


This is an excellent resource to support the development of facilitation skills. The 4 core values and functions of a facilitator outlined in this book clearly describe the role of the facilitator and the skills described in the subsequent chapters provide the reader with tangible strategies to fulfill those functions.


Review posted May 13, 2016


I used to work a lot with consensus based organizations, and read this book to refresh my skills as I head back into this territory. The book presents a simple and accessible framework for understanding how decision making works in groups, drills down into the theory behind this framework, and provides a number of tools that a facilitator can use. Furthermore, the book outlines when it's important to attempt to reach full unanimity and when that approach can be overkill. I expect to be referring to this book many times in the future.


Review posted April 23, 2016


This is a very helpful book to have on hand for reviewing when you are leading a group through a difficult or complex discussion. Even with how familiar we've become with the concept of facilitation, the vast majority of meetings I am in are still not very inclusive, or ultimately productive. This is a good resource for improving that.


Review posted April 3, 2016


This is the book. This book gets everyone around the table for a purpose.

[email protected]

Review posted March 21, 2016


Easy to understand and practical applications make this a great book for anyone tasked with running a meeting or working with a group to make decisions. The section on classic facilitator challenges provides real examples of how to deal with common situations that can quickly derail a meeting. On take away- don't fight human nature, understand human nature and make it work for you.

[email protected]

Review posted February 22, 2016


This book is a tremendous tool for meeting facilitators, but also a trove of information for crafting meeting agendas that are engaging, useful and reflective of adult learning styles. It's really a go-to resource. After checking it out of the library many times, I was very happy to see it offered as an option from Select Books so I could have my very own copy. Many thanks for this service!


Review posted February 9, 2016


A basic tool that should be in everyone's toolchest! Some of the techniques are basic, familiar, and intuitive. Others are well thought out. Others seem less than useful for adults. The theory behind them all is sound. If you are a consultant, facilitator, board chair, or have to lead/facilitate groups this is a basic text. If you can't reach decisions, or wonder why your decisions or goals fail, this is for you too!


Review posted January 14, 2016


As a trained and experienced facilitator, the book provided me with a practical and useful review of principles, practices and tools. It could be useful for working with your own organization and collaborative projects as well as with outside groups. Could be used as an introduction to Participatory Decision-Making and as a reference book.


Review posted December 20, 2015


I came at this book from a very specific perspective - as a board member of an established nonprofit of thirty plus years with a membership of almost 200 but no staff whatsoever. We are a Master Gardener Association doing a great variety of work in the community. But lacking an executive director we lack the major corrective and evaluator that a board normally has. I found very enticing the claim “Facilitation was an informal, flexible alternative to the constricting format of parliamentary procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order.” I would have loved to hear more about replacing Robert’s with something better. But I could glean from this book perhaps the key points in a replacement for Robert’s: - Full participation. - Mutual understanding. One simple strategy recommendation for achieving mutual understanding was in itself worth the price of this book - that opponents in an argument express their opponent’s position to the point where the opponent is satisfied with that expression of her/his position. - Collaboration, i.e. cooperation toward inclusive solutions rather than competition toward win-lose votes. - Clarity in making a decision. These four rules might be all we need in place of Robert’s. Any direction anyone might give us on this? There were many helpful points, most a reminder of what I should have been remembering in the first place: - the importance of paraphrasing, legitimizing, summarizing. - there are many participation formats in addition to open discussion. - identify all the needs, agree on the problem before coming to grips with solutions. - distinguish between facts and opinions But for me the most useful and important advice was to be clear about the purpose or goal for each item on the agenda. This was something I had not thought about. All in all, even with my limited perspective, this book was quite valuable, especially given how easy and quick it was to read. And it totally reinforced the case that group wisdom is so much more powerful than individual wisdom that the work to achieve it is well worth the effort.


Review posted November 28, 2015


This is a wonderful book to use for group sessions on learning "how" to become more effective as a group and as individuals. I can see myself using this with my students as well as with my staff and other co-workers. This is a book to be referred to and to be kept on hand during all meetings.


Review posted November 13, 2015


This book was informative and gave lot of practical hands on examples

Sandy Braden

Review posted November 3, 2015


This book provided great tools to aid in facilitating and can be used in other settings when decision-making is needed.


Review posted October 29, 2015


It has a lot of practical advice and great tools that I can utilize as a supervisor with my team. I appreciate the way it helps to foster new learning and concepts in myself, in addition to giving me tools I can share and teach others.


Review posted October 27, 2015


I found this book very helpful and a good refresher for facilitation. I particularly liked the section on the fundamentals. Always good to go over the basics from time to time.


Review posted September 29, 2015


This book has a lot of helpful information for community organizers and groups. The only reason it dropped a star is because some of the information is repetitive.

Margaret Tomlinson

Review posted September 22, 2015


This is essentially a textbook for professional "facilitators," consultants who work with groups to help them make decisions in a way that is supposed to make everyone in the group feel included. Much of the material presented is simplistic and repetitive, which made me want to skim. However, the book also includes a lot of facilitator jargon (divergent thinking, convergent thinking, enactment of responsibility) which can make it difficult to digest for readers who aren't familiar with the jargon. There are undoubtedly some good ideas in here, but I was really looking for a book that would help me manage a typical board meeting. To use this book in that way, it's necessary to winnow out the material that is designed for use in a retreat-style facilitator-led decision-making process. I would recommend this book for readers interested in becoming professional facilitators, or for people working with groups that have become dysfunctional and need a major rehabilitation of their decision-making style which the group-members have time to pursue (probably because they are hired employees who will be using paid work-time to pursue the process).

[email protected]

Review posted September 8, 2015


Easy to read and follow directions for facilitating a group discussion. Suggestions for including everyone in the discussion, keeping the meeting moving without taking over, how to generate ideas and bring about decisions. I wanted to see someone conducting a meeting and watch then used the techniques lined out by the author.

[email protected]

Review posted August 24, 2015


Bringing this to our next CHIP tobacco meeting. Thanks.


Review posted August 19, 2015


This book has a lot of great information! Rather than attempt to read it cover-to-cover, I've been dipping into it for tips and ideas on an as-needed basis. What I love about this book it how specific it is. Not only does the author give you the concepts, he also gives you actual phrases you can use during a meeting to inspire participation and manage group dynamics. Recommended!


Review posted July 9, 2015


I really appreciate practical books that jump right into tools that are well thought out and useful. This book doesn't waste your time. It is concise, easy to understand, and every lesson is well illustrated. Highly recommended for new and experienced facilitators alike.


Review posted June 29, 2015


This guide provided excellent, real-world examples for how groups interact with concrete methods for facilitating. I have tried to use some of these techniques with varying success but found that I was more confident in facilitating group discussions and decision-making after reading through this guide. The graphics were extremely helpful! One suggestion I might add would be to have chapter or section about cultural sensitivity for community discussions. Another would be to clarify how the size of a group impacts the facilitator's strategies (e.g. Large community meeting versus a small executive leadership team).


Review posted June 29, 2015


A colleague of mine recommended the "Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making" as a great resource to support my personal development goals. This book did not disappoint. It has been a wonderful resource as I have been facilitating more, and more meetings. The guide has everything from techniques and tools, to thoughtful distinctions on a whole list of concepts. I would highly recommend this resource to anyone who is interested in improving their facilitator skills. As a trainer, I could see this guide being very useful in helping articulating why skills are important and how to demonstrate them.


Review posted June 7, 2015


I am just beginning to explore facilitative decision making and organization. I found this book to be incredibly insightful and detailed. In a manner that allows for multiple learning techniques, utilizing pictures and diagrams helps tremendously. I would recommend this to any person whether beginner or farther in their own journey of facilitation. Thanks!


Review posted June 3, 2015


I think participatory decision making is one of the most difficult tasks any group faces and usually they do it without guidance or critical knowledge. Sam Kaner provides a wide range of techniques, and common but specialized situations, that are useful to all groups attempting to move forward with this type of a decision making process.


Review posted June 1, 2015


I greatly appreciated the useful and easy-to-digest information in Kaner's facilitation guide. I have already used some of the concepts, and have recommended the book to many fellow graduate students and professional contacts. I look forward to using the facilitation tips professionally. I gave it four stars rather than five just because I found some of the language a bit corny - the "groan zone", for example. That said, it is memorable and easy to understand!


Review posted May 3, 2015


This book was well organized and material is immediately applicable to work in facilitation. I definitely recommend this. Principles will be implemented on an ongoing basis when working with councils and boards to implement projects.


Review posted April 18, 2015


Text is large and easy to read. Book is well organized and explains things clearly. Figures help emphasize the point.


Review posted April 7, 2015


This book provides some helpful tools and useful real life advice with detailed examples. I have found it beneficial in facilitating meetings in the workplace.


Review posted April 6, 2015


This is an excellent manual. The authors clearly know and do this work. They write from experience and offer practical, clear and spot-on advice for everything from how to read (and change) a group's energy to how to create an effective agenda to how to take the most useful flipchart notes. A great resource!


Review posted March 31, 2015


Sam Kaner's Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision-Making is the bible of non-judgmental facilitation theory and practice. I had the privilege of taking Sam's the Community at Work Facilitation Workshop in San Francisco two years ago--it was transformative. We, OHSU medical students, have now applied the principles described in this book create participatory spaces for learning in Medical School at OHSU. By applying the principles described in this text, we've created collaborative spaces amidst a medical culture that often favors competition over collaboration. The application of these principles has been transformative for myself and my peers. We hope that introducing medical students to spaces where they feel heard and validated in discussions will translate to future Oregon physicians carrying this learning into their respective medical experiences and leadership. Specifically, we have used pages 42-43 to describe our motivations in using this approach and applied many of the principles in chapters 8 and 9 to creating participatory discussions.


Review posted March 22, 2015


This is an excellent resource book for effective group work in teams, boards, committees, etc. The author offers a simple and yet detailed approach through which to conduct participatory decision-making that will ensure positive results. It lays out the fundamental skills and techniques necessary to bring groups together in cooperative and productive fashion when important decisions must be made with the input of different individuals' ideas.


Review posted March 20, 2015


Excellent tools and graphics!


Review posted January 20, 2015


This book is an essential facilitator's guide for anyone working in groups small or large. It presents logical strategies for facilitating groups and many solutions to common problems. This is a great book for teachers, work group leaders, and managers alike.


Review posted December 31, 2014


The format of this book is very approachable. It is filled with applicable examples and practical tips. I found myself frequently highlighting suggestions that I can use right now. The best take-away for me was the idea that a facilitator does their best when they do not show preference for one communication style over another. Participants are not "called out"," either during or after the event, in an attempt to *correct* their communication style. The facilitator uses techniques from the book to validate all participants and, most importantly, help other participants understand what each other means. The book calls this a core value, "Mutual Understanding." I really like the other core values: Full Participation, Inclusive Solutions, and Shared Responsibility. Each value is defined and explored. If you participate or facilitate *any* collection of people - non-profit, business, hobby, or social group - I believe you will find this book helpful. I intend to use some of the ideas in my interpersonal relationships.