This is a useful way to quickly gather information and conduct discussion on a topic while getting input from all participants. It also helps get input from people in a less verbal way and helps add energy to a meeting by getting people out of their seats.
CONS: doesn’t always worked in tight spaces or places with fixed furniture. Also can cause problems for people with mobility disabilities.
- Tell people that for this part of the meeting, they should move around at any time to show their opinion. They should feel free to move at any time to show any changes in their opinion in the course of the discussion.
- Ask someone to state an opinion on the topic at hand.
- Ask that person to stand in a particular place in the room and ask others to move to stand closer to or farther from that person depending on how much they agree with that opinion.
- Ask someone who is standing still or standing far away from that last opinion to state their opinion.
- Define a location in the room for that opinion (possibly where that person is already standing) and remind people to move as they see fit to represent their opinion in relation to these different options.
- Summarize or ask someone in the group to summarize what pattern emerged.
- Return to step 4 and repeat all following steps as needed.
This process may just highlight different opinions and stances on a topic and can be a useful tool for gathering information and eliciting new information and opinions. However, it can sometimes lead to decision making. As people see the emerging patterns, they may state an opinion or idea which is a modification on other stances which everyone can agree with. Suddenly instead of having 4 different camps across the room, everyone is clustered into one spot: consensus or clarity has emerged!
If trying to create agreement, then modify step 4 and ask for anyone to try to make a statement that they think everyone could agree with and repeat as needed.