Suzanne Ghais

Program Manager at CDR Associates, Boulder, Colorado

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003

This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

I put a huge emphasis on preparation. I believe that you need to have an in-depth understanding of the people that you're working with and their situation. And then you can design a customized intervention. The example I just gave was not a retreat; it was a facilitation. I view the role of the facilitator as an architect of a custom process. If you were an architect designing a custom home, you would need to know that family. How many kids do they have? What relatives stay with them? Do they like to socialize and have friends over? Do they entertain? Do they cook a lot? Do they like to watch a lot of TV? What do they do? What do they like and what is the environment around them like? What are their neighbors like? Their neighborhood, is it trees or mountains or plains?

You'd have to understand the external environment as well as the internal dynamics and culture of that family. So, when I look at designing an intervention, by the way the terms facilitation and mediation are really very fungible in my view. When I design an intervention whether it's called facilitation, or mediation, or whatever else, I think the most important thing is to get a really in-depth understanding of the situation. More specifically, of the people involved and of the external environment that they're operating in, and then design accordingly.