Do you know a trainer, facilitator, or consultant — and how do they feel about their job?

Benjamin P. Taylor
3 min readFeb 14, 2022

Do you know someone who does #training, is a facilitator, or a #management #consultant?

Where do they sit on the facilitrainer rainbow — and how do they feel about their #job?

This might seem like a confusing question: let me explain.

I was introduced to the ‘facilitraining rainbow; in 2021 by Kevin Purcell at the power+systems conference in Boston, USA.

The rainbow comes from The Facilitator’s Pocketbook by John Townsend and Paul Donovan, and was originally drawn by Phil Halstone.

Kevin had all the conference participants line up in the ‘rainbow’ format.

At one end, the ‘pure trainers’. Best represented by a kind of roly-poly guy with a big smile and a never-ending stream of ‘dad jokes’. He literally had his course workbooks in boxes in his big American garage, he’d get a call asking for some training, pick up the relevant schedule, load up the car, and set off. In a day or two days or three days, he’d entertain and educate some folks — they would be very appreciative, fill in a form which said he scored 4.6/5, and he would move on.

In the middle, the system facilitators. A bunch of well-presented individuals, they worked with groups and organisations over months, building up to big events where they teased out the bigger potential from the group, they helped them find a better way forward and plan a brighter future. They were doing OK — they had to deal with a lot of complexity, and sometimes the process got aborted halfway through — but they trusted their processes.

At the other end, the embedded transformation folks. These guys were perhaps a little overweight, a little grey, a little jowly. A hind of bloodshot eyes. They were employed by organisations to see through whole system change. To juggle everything need to see through the plans of the facilitators, to make sure the training was put to good use.

They literally had the weight of the world on their shoulders.

For me, it’s a warning. And a choice.

You can turn up and help people, but be free of their entanglements, and go about your very merry way. That’s a worthy and an honest choice — adding value, letting them apply it.

Or you can dive into the deep dark hole with them, on the premise that you’ve been down there before and that, together, you might be able to dig your way out.

The more responsibility you take on for transforming complex systems, the more it is likely to take a toll on you. Important for #systemschange, #systemsconvening and the rest.

What about the trainers, consultants, and transformation people in your life?

Where do they sit — and how do they feel about it?