If we’ve talked at all about group facilitation in the past year, you have heard me extol the virtues of Liberating Structures. This is a tremendous resource for anyone who is interesting in structuring conversations with groups that are inclusive and vibrant.
At the Kanuga CoP gathering in October, I adapted and used one of the structures to great effect. The title of the exercise is 25/10 Crowd Sourcing . The goal of this exercise was to brainstorm and sift through the values and priorities that each member of the community brought to the gathering, that they might ground and guide the CoP during the uncertainty of transition.
First, I distributed index cards to all 100 people gathered, and asked them to answer three questions:
- What is one thing that you have in your professional relationships that you want more of?
- What is one thing you’re missing in your professional relationships that you desire?
- What is one thing you can do to make either of these happen?
Next, I invited participants to spend 2 minutes to “Mix and Switch:” circulate throughout the room, greet their colleagues, and trade index cards (without reading!) with each person they encountered. At the end of the two minutes, participants read the card in their hand and rated the contents from 1-5. One meant “this doesn’t resonate with me at all,” and five meant “this person read my mind…I could have written exactly this!” Participants wrote their rating on the back of the card.
We repeated the Mix and Switch and card rating four more times. At the end of the 12 or 13 minutes, I gathered the cards. While others presented to the group, I did some quick math to total the ratings for each card. The maximum possible points was 25, minimum was 5. I then returned to the group and shared with them all the cards that had 22+ points. (This number was somewhat arbitrary – it allowed me to share some of the higher-rated ideas in the time that was allotted.) All participants heard the ideas that had risen to the top of the heap, based on their feedback. I then gave the whole stack of cards to the planning team so that they could hear the values that emerged from the crowd gathered.
On the whole, this exercise worked well for this group. Despite some initial groans at the mention of a participatory activity, energy was high, and participants were willing to engage.
- relatively fast way to ensure that all ideas are heard/considered by at least 5 others
- at the beginning of an event, encouraged social connections among participants
- quick rating decisions may mean a rather superficial engagement
- encouraged participants to introduce themselves to someone they didn’t know during the Mix and Switch.
- the possibilities are endless for the questions that participants can be asked. LS’s original exercise asks, “If you were ten times bolder, what big idea would you recommend? What first step would you take to get started?”
- next time, I will ask participants to do the math after the final rating. Many hands make light the work.