How might we equip facilitators with the skills needed to construct problem-solving networks?

Expanding Our Network Facilitator Training: Pretoria, South Africa


To solve today’s complex global challenges, diverse groups of people must share knowledge and resources to find innovative solutions. How can a group of individuals with vastly different backgrounds and expertise form a shared vision for success?  How can networks align incentives and leverage the skills of each team member?  Whether through structured workshops or ongoing communication with dispersed team members, facilitators help answer these questions and assure that those taking on complex challenges stay on course. Skills for team leadership, workshop facilitation, and group problem solving prove especially important when decisions made on interventions can vastly influence the lives of millions of families.  Yet, in few organizations or classrooms are these skills taught to those who need them.


Heeding calls for African leaders with the skills to facilitate such complex, problem-solving activities, GKI built upon its Facilitator Training program and designed and delivered training to 15 leaders in science, technology, and innovation in South Africa.  The training, which is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, exposed learners to GKI’s four fundamental building blocks of facilitation: defining a shared purpose; guiding and engaging group; learning to adapt; and, capturing and maintaining momentum. Hosted at the South African Government’s Department of Monitoring, Planning, and Evaluation in Pretoria, the training aimed to deepen the skills of the emerging  cadre of facilitators to lead groups through the problem-solving and collaborative innovation process.

GKI’s Facilitator Training program falls under the auspices of GKI’s LINK (Learning and Innovation Network for Knowledge and Solutions) program, an initiative that helps teams of innovators solve agricultural and environmental challenges through international partnerships.  Since 2011, GKI has implemented the LINK Program in partnership with universities and research teams in countries such as Rwanda, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Kenya, and Uganda.

Results / Outcomes

  • Designed and led participants in an integrated training on creative problem solving, and key facilitation skills, a unique and often underrepresented area of innovation capacity building
  • Trained 15 science, technology, and innovation experts on key facilitation skills, such as how to examine complex challenges, explore solutions, and translate them into actionable opportunities
  • Helped participants learn how to create an action plan,  maintain group momentum, and orient these skills within their home institutions and beyond
  • Shared with participants a reusable toolkit on three fundamental tools supporting collaboration and innovation, enabling them to apply these skills on an ongoing basis