To sum it up…

Take a look at You Learn Something New Every Day – Gillian’s post By The Numbers: The Power of Math in Group Processes makes an interesting read, and a timely reminder that we’re not always doing a group a favour if we bow to pressure for more plenary sessions.

I’ve also found myself using maths to justify facilitation decisions. I have had meetings of 50+ people suggest a go-round to hear about the various campaigns and projects other people are involved in. These can be very interesting and affirming for groups, but given that people can rarely summarise a project in less than 2 minutes, and some will need significantly longer, well do the maths. Is it realistic to expect people to sit for over an hour and a half? What’s the quality of the listening like for the second half (or more) of the go-round? Do we run out of time with some people yet to speak?

Of course it’s not all about plenary sessions.  I also like the thought of numerically articulating the time that’s being invested in a process. It’s good to make these things explicit.


2 thoughts on “To sum it up…

  1. Agree on the info sharing!

    I’ve recently used two different ways of meeting that need without ‘death by plenary’.

    1. grafitti wall specifically for sharing information on ‘what we’re doing already (or actively planning to do) on XXXX’, with a request that people leave contact details / url so that people can follow up for more info later, and time in the agenda for people to browse the wall.

    2. collaborative context setting – someone from the convening organisation kicked this off with a very short prepared presentation, and then I posed the question in plenary “what else do we need to remind ourselves about, to help us understand the context for today’s discussions?” We had about 20 m for this, and it worked well to give a space to those people desperate to share something they felt to be really important, and for simple information-seeking questions (“whatever happened about Y?”) and agenda-setting points (“we need to bear ZZZ in mind”)



  2. Pingback: Consensus decision-making: the muddle in the middle | rhizome: participation|activism|consensus

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