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.
- 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.”)
- Assign one answer or position to one side of the room, and the other position or answer to the other side.
- 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.
- Note or ask participants to note what pattern emerged
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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“.