5 tools to help you check the alignment of your group
When running a workshop, how do we know we have true agreement on a shared model?
Superficial agreement will kill your session and undermine your objectives and so we suggest you explore questions and concerns instead.
Taking time to explore alignment will help build ownership of the ideas being discussed. The curiosity and honesty that follow provide a boost of energy that often spurs participants towards a meaningful outcome.
After someone has told the story of a shared model, you might ask - "based on the story that has just been told, do you have any questions or concerns about the model?"This question directs all listeners to one interpretation and is simple to answer.
Here are five tools to get your group to express their thoughts:
1) Scales of agreement
Using the method cards here set out a scale of agreement on a table or the floor. Invite the group to work in silence and ask people to decide where they are in relation the model. Ask each person to write on the gridcard the position they take, along with a question or comment that relates to their level of agreement. When the writing is done, have each person read their card aloud and place it in the relevant place on the scale. The clusters illustrate the collective view of the group whilst the grid cards record each persons true thoughts: this method was adapted from an idea created by facilitation guru and author Sam Kaner.
2) Thumb voting
Ask participants to give a simple thumbs up, thumbs down, or somewhere in between to indicate if they have any questions or concerns. Thumbs up is no concerns, whilst thumbs down is major concerns. The most useful data comes from the people who’s thumbs are somewhere between horizontal and vertical (or 9:00-11:00 on a clock face). In turn, invite people to voice these slight reservations and ask them to identify how they could be addressed. This is a really quick and easy way to understand the alignment within a group.
3) Using 'traffic light' bricks
Get participants to select a red, amber and green brick and then use these like traffic-lights to indicate their level of reservation with what has been said. This simple method of assessing the reservations in your group is quick and leaves a visual record of the questions an individual has: this method was created by Anna-Lyse Raoul during our January 2018 training.
4) Using physical space
It can be interesting to use physical space as a literal expression of alignment around an idea. Use opposite walls to represent differing perspectives - perhaps no reservations vs major reservations. Ask participants to stand in the space which represents their view. This physical clustering helps people identify which colleagues are most closely aligned, and can be a good way of changing the energy if a group is waining: this method was introduced to us by Emma Owen during a July 2018 training.
5) Using bricks as scale
Rather usefully, a 1-10 stud brick can be used as a numeric scale of alignment - simply place a second piece at the point on the 10 stud scale that represents your view (1 being no alignment, 10 being complete alignment). This method has the advantage of creating a lasting record of what was said. Useful for returning to after a break, or capturing in photographs.
Used well, these tools have the power to unlock honest and meaningful dialogue and will result in greater clarity and ownership of the final idea.
We hope you enjoy them - Good luck!
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