Brainstorming: Structured Group Decision Making

Submitted by Dr Phil Bartle on April 30, 2003 - 12:00am.

These guidelines will help you to lead a group to making decisions by consensus. The technique can be used in a community meeting, in a meeting of the executive of a community based organization, among managers of an NGO, in a Governmental ministry or a UN agency management meeting, five to two hundred participants.

While you need good leadership qualities to conduct the session, and must be very firm in ensuring that the format and ground rules of the session are followed, you will be ensuring that the decisions are seen to be that of the group, not imposed upon them by yourself. You facilitate creative group decision-making.

The Purpose of Brainstorming

The purpose of a brainstorming session is to work as a group to define a problem, and find, through a participatory intervention, the best group decision for a plan of action to solve it.

Requirements

  • A problem to solve; 
  • A group with potential to work as a team. This works with a small management or operational team of five to ten people, all the way up in size to a village meeting of a few hundred people; 
  • A board, large sheets of paper, or something that can be seen easily by all, and some large marker pens to write on it; and 
  • A facilitator (you). Someone who's task is to draw out the suggestions from the participants, not to impose her or his own opinions, while still using leadership skills to maintain the order and purpose of the session.

The Ground Rules

  • The facilitator leads each session; 
  • The facilitator calls for suggestions from the participants;
  • No criticism (of anyone's suggestion) by anyone is allowed; and 
  • All suggestions should be recorded on the board (even the crazy ones).

The Procedure

1. Define the problem: 

  • Ask for suggestions as to what is the most important problem; 
  • No criticism (of anyone's suggestion) by anyone is allowed; 
  • Write all the suggested problems on the board; 
  • Group together any problems that are similar or related; then 
  • Rearrange them and list them in priority (most important ones at the top).

2. Generate the Goal: 

  • Reverse the definition of the problem (it's solution); 
  • The solution to the problem defined above is the goal; 
  • Define the goal as the solution to the problem;
  • Write the goal on the board; then 
  • Remind the group that the goal is the one that they selected.

3. Define the Objective: 

  • Explain the difference between a goal and an objective (The facilitator should know this: an objective is measurable, finite, and has a completion date); 
  • Ask the group to suggest objectives; 
  • Write all the suggested objectives on the board; 
  • No criticism (of anyone's suggestion) by anyone is allowed; 
  • Group together any objectives that are similar or related; 
  • Rearrange them and list them in priority (most important at top); then 
  • Remind the group that they generated the top objective(s).

4. Identify resources and constraints: 

  • Ask the group to suggest resources and constraints; 
  • Write all the suggested resources and constraints on the board; 
  • No criticism (of anyone's suggestion) by anyone is allowed; 
  • Group together any resources that are similar or related. 
  • Rearrange them and list them in priority (most important at top). 
  • Remind the group that they, not you, generated the list; 
  • Group together any constraints that are similar or related. 
  • Rearrange them and list them in priority (most important at top); then 
  • Remind the group that they generated the arrangement of the list.

5. Identify a strategy: 

  • Ask the group to suggest strategies; 
  • Write all the suggested strategies on the board; 
  • No criticism (of anyone's suggestion) by anyone is allowed; 
  • Group together any strategies that are similar or related; 
  • Rearrange them and list them in priority (most important at top); 
  • Remind the group that they generated the list; 
  • Choose the strategy that remains at the top of the list.

6. Summarize on the board the group decisions:

  • the problem; 
  • the goal; 
  • the objectives; 
  • the resources; 
  • the constraints; and 
  • the strategy;

Inform the group that they have produced a Plan of Action. If some one would write down what was decided in each of the above categories, they would have the essence of a standard planning document. Let them know that they have produced it as a team, and that they "own" the plan.

 

Phil Bartle is a community trainer based in Canada. He has previously worked as a programme manager and technical adviser with UN agencies and NGOs in Africa and Asia. This article is one of 200 training modules available from Phil's website: Community Self-Management, Empowerment and Development

Have your say...

What is your experience of leading groups to making decisions by consensus?  Have you any suggestions or lessons learned to share? Email exchange@aidworkers.net or join the discussion online at Aid Workers Forum.

AID WORKERS FORUM is our place to ask questions and find answers.

This week's featured topics:

Livestock/Pastoral Development 
http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/141/373.html

Appreciative Inquiry 
http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/141/10237.html

Development Work in a Conflict Zone 
http://oldforum.aidworkers.net/messages/141/445.html

 

Newsletter Articles: AWX Article
Submitted by mitridiy on May 31, 2010 - 1:11pm.

You got yourself a pretty damn good and sufficient pice of work down here... This post teachd me a lot ! I don't even have enough words on my mind to express how much thankful I am to to you for that "Brainstorming: Structured Group Decision Making" :)
-------
This is my own thesis, keep your hands away !!!!

Submitted by umakant on February 2, 2011 - 1:47pm.

SEO Tips : Starwebworld, is an Search Engine Optimization (SEO) blog. This is providing the latest SEO tips and News.

Best SEO Company India : Starwebworld, is an Search Engine Optimization (SEO) blog. This is providing the latest SEO tips and News.

SEO Tips : Starwebworld, is an Search Engine Optimization (SEO) blog. This is providing the latest SEO tips and News.

Submitted by umakant on June 6, 2011 - 11:22am.

SEO Forum: Webmaster Forum, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) forum, Online Internet Marketing forum and web design Forum

Submitted by insec on October 5, 2012 - 2:00am.

Very interesting meeting agenda in relation to decições consensus. I believe this will facilitate the making of the NGO.

I has Real State to apartaments and house to sale.
Aluguel Riviera | Notícias | Imoveis Riviera | Apartamentos em Santos

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.