This paper provides an empirical study based on action research in which expert and novice facilitators in facilitated modelling workshops are compared. There is limited empirical research analysing the differences between expert and novice facilitators. Aiming to address this gap we study the behaviour of one expert and two novice facilitators during a Viable System Model workshop. The findings suggest common facilitation patterns in the behaviour of experts and novices. This contrasts literature claiming that experts and novices behave and use their available knowledge differently, and empirically supports the claim that facilitation skills can be taught to participants to enable them to self-facilitate workshops. Differences were also found, which led to the introduction of a new dimension—‘internal versus external’ facilitation. The implications of our findings for effective training and facilitation strategies in contexts in which external, expert facilitation is not always possible are also discussed, and limitations of this study are provided.