Participatory workshops are fantastic at generating ideas. The exercises outlined will generate more ideas from more perspectives than you ever thought possible.
The time has now come to start putting a bit of flesh on the bones of some of these suggestions and finding ways of deciding which may be worth pursuing further. As ever the focus is on approaching this task from as many different angles as possible, gathering as many opinions as possible and then reaching consensus on the best way forward.
Whether it’s following a graffiti wall, H-Form, spider diagram or any of the other ‘idea generators’ it can be really useful to gauge quickly the level of support each suggestion has within the room. A quick, easy and energising way of doing this is the bean counter.
The best way of doing this is to give each participant a line of six sticky coloured dots. Then give them five minutes to walk round the room looking at graffiti walls or H-Forms etc and the suggestions they have generated. They can then allocate their six ‘votes’ how they wish by sticking their stickers on the ideas they like most.
At the end of the five minutes you can simply tot up the ideas with the most votes and you have your winners! This works as a great interim step between ideas generation and planning, by whittling down the suggestions to a manageable number.
Make sure you clarify in advance any rules for how each person’s six votes can be cast. Are you going to allow them to divide them as they wish (ranging from one vote each for six ideas, to six votes for one idea) or impose some constraints? We tend to prefer stipulating that three votes must be cast for their favourite choice, two for their second favourite and one for their third choice.
In this way way you minimise the chance of the results being skewed by the choice of one person who decides to put all their eggs in one basket (usually the one they thought of!).
In essence a variation on the matrices exercises covered earlier.
Impact ranking is a great way of finding quick wins, based on comparing options against two criteria. All it involves is the drawing of a four x four square grid on a piece of flip chart paper. Then use a scale of £, ££, £££ down the left hand column to denote the amount of resource a proposed solution is estimated to require (we tend to use ‘resource’ rather than ‘money as this brings into consideration things like staff time and other ‘hidden’ costs).
Across the rows we then use as scale of (insert three smileys ranging from happy to sad) to denote potential benefit. Solutions can then be discussed in turn and then assigned a place in the matrix depending on views about their relative benefit and the level of resource required to achieve them.
You can then focus attention on those anticipated to achieve a high benefit for low resource and possibly agree to discard those in the opposite direction.
Another variation on the use of a matrix approach to options appraisal is to draw a grid with as many columns as ‘ideas’ that have been generated through previous exercises. Then add the same amount of rows as ‘problems/issues’ that have been identified.
You can then discuss each idea in turn and either put a ‘+’ in the column of problems that it will play a positive role in overcoming, a ‘0’ if it will play no role or a ‘-‘ if it could actually make the problem worse. By the end of this exercise you will have gathered an instant picture of where it might be possible to kill two (or more) birds with one stone.
Here’s where you really start to turn ‘great ideas’ into something that you can really progress when you leave the workshop. Draw a grid with seven columns (here we go again!) on a piece of flip chart paper and then add as many rows as you have potential solutions (derived from a previous exercise). Leave the first column empty and then at the top of each of the other columns write the following (bold) headings:
- What (are the tasks required to progress the solution)?
- Why (should we do it)?
- When (will we have it done by)?
- How (are we going to do it)?
- Where (will we do it)?
- Who (is going to do it)?
Then, in the far left column you can take each of your solutions and stick them one per row. You can now start discussing each solution in turn through the prism of the above six questions. You now have a plan of action that can be used to implement the solutions you started with!
So during this collection of exercises we’ve turned an unsorted long list of potential good ideas, to a considered, prioritised shortlist and finally on to the beginnings of a structured implementation plan.