Cornell UniversityThe Nature Conservancy

Process Facilitators

Small Group Facilitation, Photo by Deb Nystrom (CC BY 2.0)A skilled facilitator is an invaluable asset to a community working through each phase of the CBDM process. Facilitators play key roles in involving community members, creating learning opportunities for the community, and developing processes the community will use for decision making. A facilitator can help the community carefully define their problem, establish collective goals, and select action alternatives that have broad community support.

Process facilitators are generally selected by local leaders and may come from within or from outside the local community. Communities seek facilitation assistance from a range of sources, including their state wildlife management agency, Cooperative Extension system, professional consultants, or respected local leaders. Sometimes, the facilitator needed at one phase of the process may be different than at another. Process facilitators:

  • help create adequate knowledge among stakeholders
  • help foster partnerships and information networks
  • help create decision-making processes that are regarded as fair and credible among stakeholders
  • facilitate discussion that leads to a common community purpose


Phase 1: Problem Definition

  • Helping to design a stakeholder involvement process.
  • Helping to involve or recruit community members with multiple perspectives in the process.
  • Setting and enforcing ground rules for process participants.
  • Helping community residents to articulate a clear problem statement.
  • Helping community residents to articulate their goals and objectives related to deer management.
  • Helping community residents fully articulate the problem statement and establish their community goals and objectives before discussing potential management alternatives.
  • Involving content experts to provide information/education on topics such as deer natural history, local deer-related impacts, and deer management activities affecting that community.

Phase 2: Decision-making

  • Soliciting community viewpoints on management alternatives from multiple perspectives.
  • Helping participants process information and make decision recommendations.
  • Leading discussion on acceptable measurements for assessing progress toward community goals for deer management.
  • Helping decision makers stick to a timeline established by formal community leaders
  • Involving content experts to provide information/education on deer management alternatives and their potential consequences.
  • Helping community residents gain an understanding of how well various management alternatives are likely to work, and the feasibility of each alternative in their community, based on the best-available information.
  • Facilitating discussion to evaluate possible consequences of various management alternatives (e.g., costs and benefits; identifying stakeholders who would gain benefits or incur costs).
  • Advise committee members regarding how they will communicate results to municipal or elected leaders.

Phase 4: Evaluation and Adaptation

  • Leading discussion about the outcomes of assessment and evaluation.
  • Leading discussion about whether selected management actions should be continued unchanged, be modified, or be discontinued.
  • Advise committee members regarding how they will communicate decision results to community members or leaders.

Common Questions

Please see our resources tab for a variety of educational resources that may be helpful to you. You will even find some pre-made PowerPoint presentations that you may use and alter for educational purposes. You may also find it helpful to contact your county's Cooperative Extension office for additional educational resources. 

No, not necessarily. It is important that facilitators be perceived as unbiased by stakeholders, and sometimes being viewed as not having a stake in deer management may be a benefit to facilitation. However, a facilitator does need to have some knowledge about the issue, especially given that part of their role is to help create knowledge among stakeholders. What is especially important is that facilitators are able to effectively help foster partnerships and information networks, create decision-making processes that are regarded as fair and credible among stakeholders, and facilitate discussion that leads to a common community purpose.

The best practices outlined on this site have provided you with some actions that can help create a context that fosters success (stakeholder involvement,  informative communication, education and learning). Also, keep in mind that "success" may be hard to define, and setting goals that you are able to monitor and evaluate is an important component for tracking progress. Decker et al (2004) also suggest the following components of a successful process:

  • A structured process for making community decisions that includes multiple, diverse perspectives
  • Shared understandings about desired goals and a desire for achieving generally acceptable solutions
  • An understanding that this will be an ongoing process. CBDM is not usually a one-off task and often requires a long time-horizon
  • A commitment to evaluation of the decision-making process and the subsequent management program is also critical so adjustments and modifications to a program can be made as needed

Browsing our library of cases may be helpful to you in finding communities that may be similar to your own, in order to get a sense of how those communities’ processes progressed. However, keep in mind that what worked in one community, no matter how similar it seems to your own, is not guaranteed to work in yours.