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Content neutrality describes the single most important trait of an effective facilitator.

As a YMCA-certified SCUBA diver, we heard “take only photographs and leave only bubbles.”  Likewise, an effective facilitator should take only participant input and leave only a thorough trail of documentation and rationale. You will find this premise emphasized in the 27th verse of the Wisdom of the Tao written 2,500 years ago. While varying translations and transliterations exist, we’ve borrowed one version of the 27th verse below:

A knower of the truth

travels without leaving a trace,

speaks without causing harm,

gives without keeping an account.

The door that shuts, though having no lock,

will not open.

The knot he ties, though using no cord,

cannot be undone.

Content Neutrality — Take Only Photographs, Leave Only Bubbles

The Traveler

Be wise and help all being impartially,

abandoning none.

Waste no opportunities.

This is called following the light.

What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher?

What is a bad man but a good man’s job?

If the teacher is not respected

and the student is not cared for,

confusion will arise, however clever one is.

This is the great secret.

The Role of Contextual Master

The role of facilitator is captured by both the knower and the teacher, of context. The shut door represents preventing scope creep.  The tied knot represents connection and consensus. Meaning, not one’s “favorite” necessarily, but at a high enough standard that participants will support it professionally and not lose any sleep over it personally. Helping all suggests the innovative potential that exists by embracing heterogeneity.  Wasting no opportunities implies thorough listening and documentation.

Above all, to be wise is to be impartial—this is the great secret.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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