Isaac Asimov on why you need a faciliator

I'm reluctant to tell people that I facilitate important meeting and conversations.

Maybe it's because the word "facilitation" sounds so weak and passive. Or maybe because I've been in too many sessions with an unskilled facilitator who saw his role as adhering to the agenda rather than asking good questions and helping people have the REAL conversation about issues at hand.

in 1959 Isaac Asimov wrote an essay exploring how people get creative ideas, recently republished in the MIT Technology Review. In it he explains the value of a facilitator:

I do not think that cerebration sessions can be left unguided. There must be someone in charge who plays a role equivalent to that of a psychoanalyst. A psychoanalyst, as I understand it, by asking the right questions (and except for that interfering as little as possible), gets the patient himself to discuss his past life in such a way as to elicit new understanding of it in his own eyes.

In the same way, a session-arbiter will have to sit there, stirring up the animals, asking the shrewd question, making the necessary comment, bringing them gently back to the point.
— Isaac Asimov

I'm not sure session-arbiter captures the value, either. But, oh, the description certainly does.

Why go it alone when an experienced guide can help your group more easily explore issues and possibilities?