In my opinion, there is no definitive definition of facilitation. Its definition depends on context: situation, group and requirements. This is true for every concept, but because facilitation is about the creation of meaning – once you know the meaning of you situation, you can decide to act (or not) -, it is double so. On the other hand, here is what I’ve written in our book:
Facilitation Processes or skills by which a (independent outside) party supports → meeting(s) of participants to move toward improvement or resolution of a → problem. Usually more than two parties are involved.
Facilitation can operate at many levels, from providing → meeting space to active intervention as a → mediator, → moderator, → chair, → coach, counselor, → MC, manager, teacher or → trainer.
Supporting parties to set ground rules and designing agendas for meetings, promoting better communication between parties, and analysis of the situation and possible outcomes—in general, helping the participants keep on track and working toward their mutual goals. It may also mean helping them set those goals.
It is procedural assistance provided to enable → participants to → communicate more effectively and move towards agreement.
If you want to know more, please buy our book or download the Glossary of terms on facilitation.