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by Phil Bartle, PhD

Dedicated to Gert Lüdeking

Notes for the Facilitator

Using training as a method of empowerment


Management training (MT) in this module has a special interpretation; it is a methodology for capacity development. For you as a trainer / facilitator, to make use of it, you need to be aware of the peculiarity of MT.

While it is called "training" it goes beyond the common or orthodox meaning of training as skill transfer; it is used as a mechanism for organizing and direct capacity development. That difference is noted below and explained more in other related documents in this series.

While you can use MT for increasing the capacity of groups and organizations (ranging from departments to whole agencies), it is even more valuable when integrated with the kind of community mobilizing and organizing traditionally thought of as "community development."

The centre of MT is found in four key questions, which are introduced here, and reappear often in the training material in this series. As a trainer, you need to be completely familiar with these four questions, and able to detect them at the centre of all planning and management activities.

While often training uses such techniques as lectures, presentations, audio visual aids and demonstrations, these are all characterized by being passive on the part of the trainees; trainees are expected to absorb the material presented by the trainer.

A "participative" approach, in contrast, is one in which the trainees are not merely the empty vessels to be filled with information and skills; they are the participants and decision makers themselves in a process of analysing their own characteristics, and determining needed changes in their own organization in order to more effectively reach the objectives that they themselves set.

The Six Purposes:

Recall the six purposes of MT:
  • awareness raising (there is a problem);
  • information imparting (but there is a solution);
  • skill acquisition (how to solve the problem);
  • encouragement (take courage; do it);
and most importantly,
  • organizing (effective organization) and
  • mobilization (action).

People will attend your training sessions for several reasons. These may include curiosity, an allowance, entertainment, a break from routine monotony. Most expect to be informed; many expect to learn new skills. It will be useful at the introduction to the workshop for you to list those possible motivations that they may have, and ask for some comments from them about why they are attending.

Then go on to list, using the board, the six purposes listed above. They will see them again in some of the handouts; saying the same thing in different ways is encouraged in this kind of work. Let them know that the last two are the most important in this training, but that you will not be doing the organizing or mobilizing; they will. Insist that you will be asking the questions, but that they will be making the decisions as a group. (Review the trainers' notes for the brainstorm session).

The issue here is that the orthodox meaning of "training" is skill transfer, but that this training goes much farther in its purpose.

Two other documents expand on these two important purposes of our training; "Training to Organize," and "Training to Mobilize."

Capacity Development:

Many people assume that capacity development (formerly called "capacity building") only means training, and assume that training only means skill transfer. In this methodology, sixteen elements of capacity have been identified. See "Measuring Progress." They include skill transfer, but also fifteen other elements. One very important element is how well the group, organization or community is organized. How effective is it organized for making decisions, and how effective is it organized for action (reaching its objectives)? Skill transfer is not omitted in this MT methodology; other important elements are added.

Your role as trainer and facilitator is to assist the group of participants to organize. If they are an unorganized collection of individuals, this will be initial organizing. Your work is a little like a trade union organizer.

You ensure that you do not take any office in the organization, but that they as a group form an organization, and assign different roles, responsibilities and titles to different individuals within the organization. Insist that it is they, not you, who must make the decisions, that you are there only to facilitate them in making their own group decisions.

If they are already organized into some structure and process, emphasize question three of the four key questions, and challenge them to make organizational decisions that will effectively make decisions and will effectively undertake actions leading to achieving their objectives.

Management training here is used to facilitate the group in organizing, or organizing more efficiently.

Community Mobilization:

Management training in this methodology includes mobilization. That could be the mobilizing for action of groups, organizations or communities.

When applied to communities, it should be integrated with the more traditional or orthodox community development mobilizing techniques, the mobilization cycle.

While community mobilization has been traditionally associated with rural communities that were small, and relatively homogeneous, they are more difficult to apply in urban, heterogeneous communities, such as the large number of slums that are sprouting up and growing all over the world at a rapid rate. By applying the MT methodology here, these differences in modern community mobilization can more easily be overcome.

When the target group (beneficiaries, participants) are an organization (NGO, CBO, private business, governmental department, UN agency), of course, while there is mobilization for action in MT, it is not community mobilization.

The Four Key Questions:

Before beginning your management training, carefully think about the four key questions.

The four key questions are: (1) "What do we want?" (2) "What do we have?" (3) "How do we use what we have to get what we want?" and (3) "What will happen when we do?" they are repeated in many of the training documents in this series.

Remember that the four questions form a single logical sequence. The first question refers to the identification of the priority problem, and the most important among several problems. Ensure that there is eventually consensus among your participants that the problem chosen is the one most important faced by the group. Some may have to compromise. Ensure that the choice is not dominated by an interest group or faction, but is endorsed by all.

The solution to the priority problem is the "goal," or the answer to question one (what we want). The answer to question two is the initial situation analysis, ensure that both assets and liabilities are considered. Question three, "how?" is the question that leads to organizing and planning steps leading to achieving the objectives of the group. The answer to question four is an estimate or prediction of an impact assessment.

While your participants may not see it as they are busy answering the questions, you need to understand, and to demonstrate to them after they finish, that the answers to the four questions form a logical argument, which is the basic argument of a project design.


It is very important that you do not gather a group of trainees, tell them what they should do, and dictate to them the solutions to their problems.

You help the participants to "own" the solutions; it is important that they identify them, including the answering of the four questions, including the organizing and reorganizing (ie institutional restructuring) that is important for them to become stronger and more effective. Your guidance is best put in the form of asking the questions, then let them come up with the answers.

Do not hesitate to answer their questions, but have a plan in mind about where they should be headed, and ask questions that lead them to going there. Challenge them to justify their decisions, but do not make the decisions for them.

When elements are missing in their choices, point out that they are missing, but let them come up with the ways of filling in the missing pieces. Use facilitative approaches to encourage trainee participation in decision making.

While this is similar to PRA techniques, this is participatory mobilization, not participatory research or assessment; it is intervention, stimulation, encouragement and guidance in participating in making their decisions as a group.


There are three documents on this site which an give you, as trainer, more insight into the principles of management training as applied to the empowerment of communities or organizations.

These are: Chapter Three of Training for Strength, "Management Training to Empower Communities," the Document Two of the CMP Strategy, "The Strategy Sketched as a Whole," and the third document in the CMP Strategy. "The Strategy Explicated in Detail."

If you wish to make your MT most effective, first arm yourself with the principles and methods that are explained in those documents.


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© Copyright 1967, 1987, 2007 Phil Bartle
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Last update: 2012.02.27

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