Standing Line

This tool is really useful for getting people out of “talking head” mode and general increases energy in the room quickly by getting people to walk around. Also, it creates a really fast way to visually “read” what’s going on with an issue without a lot of discussion while simultaneously getting everyone’s input (including those who may not be especially verbal in meetings).

CONS: doesn’t always worked in tight spaces or places with fixed furniture. Also can cause problems for people with mobility disabilities.

  1. Pose a question with two different possible answers (e.g. “Do you support this proposal: yes or no:” or “Do you think chances of this succeeding are: hi or low?” or “What’s a higher priority: economic development or environmental protection?”) or state two opinions or positions (e.g. “We should make membership free: strongly agree or strongly disagree.” or “Some people are racist vs. everyone is racist.”)
  2. Assign one answer or position to one side of the room, and the other position or answer to the other side.
  3. Ask meeting participants to get up and move to stand one one side or the other, or somewhere in the middle to show their opinion.
  4. Note or ask participants to note what pattern emerged
  5. Tell participants that they should feel free to move in real-time to show if they have any changes in opinion during the discussion – it’s important for participants to realize that their “position” on the line is welcome to change.
  6. Ask clarifying questions as needed: for example, for folks standing somewhere in the middle of the line might be asked to explain why they’re standing where they are.
  7. Depending on what’s said or what discussion ensues, it might be necessary to remind participants that they can move to show any changes in their opinion.
  8. If useful or necessary, ask someone to define an answer or opinion which doesn’t fit on the defined line. Then define a new area on the floor to represent this opinion and ask people to move to show their affinity among these three options. Return to step 4 and continue forward as needed. Note that this step basically turns “standing line” into “amoeba discussion“.
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This entry was posted in decision-making, For contentious discussions, Info-gathering, Toolbox. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Standing Line

  1. Pingback: Gradients of Agreement | Detroit Facilitation Guild

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