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How large groups can benefit from digital facilitation

By Ilkka Mäkitalo on Nov 23, 2017 8:36:00 AM

The quality of the dialogue is built or destroyed by the structures and settings of the collaboration.

Think about a team meeting with ten active participants. Let’s say that an average length of every statement of the participants in the discussion is around two minutes. That means, that you might have to wait for 18 minutes for your own turn to talk. How many times does the focus of the discussion change in 18 minutes? Most probably your comment is not relevant anymore.

Even if you change your point of view several times while waiting your turn, you might not be able to participate in the way you wanted. When you're trying to keep your point of view on your mind during the discussions, you might not be the best listener. Most of the energy of yours might go for finding your slot, your turn. 

When we have too many members participating in the discussions, we are losing part of the opinions and perspective because they just don’t fit in the structure of the discussion. 

Another challenge is that in order to create valuable dialogue, the balance between questions and statements, and as Losada uses the terms inquiry and advocacy, should be close to 1:1. When you have to wait for too long for your turn to speak, it easily cuts down the number of questions. When you finally have your turn, you want to say out loud your opinion instead of using your time to make some good questions. That’s human. 

You might recognize the challenge of the balance between the time available and the amount of participants here. The problem is not only in the quality of the dialogue. It is also in decreasing the amount of energy and motivation both in a group and individual level. 

What if you have 50 people in the room? Or 500? Or 5,000? 

We have recognized these challenges. And we have solutions for the team of 10, or 50, 500 or 5000 participants to build up the dialogue together. In these situations, you do need some suitable technology. What is required is a solution that is easy to access and to use. The solution that has compatibility with any device, real-time functionalities, and possibilities to structure the discussions, roles and functionalities in detailed level.

That’s what digital facilitation platform Howspace is all about. The technology does not do it for you alone. You need some facilitation ideas.  

How about letting everyone to participate at the same time? In a silence? In a dialogue. Saying out loud their own ideas, ”listening” and asking questions from the others, liking the best ideas, helping colleagues.

Let’s say that we have 500 people in the room and we’ll spend 10 minutes in silence with Howspace. We have one question for everyone (optionally to be answered in pairs or small groups) like: What are the three best ways we can serve our clients? Everyone takes 2 minutes to write their ideas into Howspace. If it is done by individuals, we have 1500 inputs available. Then we can continue to many different paths: 

  • checking word cloud of the inputs together or individually or in small groups
  • checking word trees of the most interesting words
  • liking or rating the ideas and then sorting them by likes or ratings
  • commenting on top ideas as individuals, pairs or groups
  • using sense-making to analyze either all the ideas or the top-ranked ones
  • building some polls needed for prioritizing and making decisions.

In 10 minutes you can create an awesome process. From ideas to decisions. And it does not even have to happen in the same place. You can have participants from all over the world. Or it does not have to happen in 10 minutes. It can be done within 24 hours or a week. Whenever people have time to participate. This kind of process can be done with 500, 5000 or 50 000 participants. 

In case you have a huge organization, you can also utilize organization structure filtering, algorithms and ”voice of a team” features to recognize the differences between locations and departments in your organization. 

You don’t have to speak aloud to be heard. You can get visual summaries of qualitative data. You can prioritize ideas and make a decision in real time. 

What happens in such a process:

  • A huge amount of energy is created in a short time.
  • Participants feel heard and appreciated.
  • Level of engagement changes dramatically.
  • Ideas are developed forward.
  • Work of the management is much easier.
  • Customers will feel the difference immediately.

Are you interested in the various ways that Howspace can help you? Start a free trial and plan your next development and learning process with Howspace. No strings attached, no credit card needed.