IAF Methods

Creating Discussion Groups

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
any 12 - 50
A way to simply and quickly organise discussion groups and at the same time ensure diversity in the small groups. This can be used whenever the facilitator has not been able to organise the discussion groups in advance.
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To organise small discussion groups within a larger group and to ensure that you have all categories of participants represented in each group (as far as possible, depending on the number in the group).


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    Setting: None

    Number of participants: 12 - 50

    Pre-Work Required: You will need to decide on the number of discussion groups you want to have. Decide the major categories of diversity which you want to ensure are in each discussion group. Be careful to create categories that are non-controversial or judgemental but clarify the diversity of the group for the particular topic they will discuss: i.e. age group, kind of stakeholder (client, service provider, administration, etc.), role in the organization, etc. 


    Rational Aim: To ensure that you have the diversity of the large group represented within each of the small discussion groups.

    Experiential Aim: To quickly and simply organise discussion groups in such a way that participants are not asked to remember numbers, table locations, etc.



    1. Now we are going to organise our discussion groups. We want to ensure that we have a representative group in each of the smaller groups.

    2. In order to do this we have divided the larger group into the following categories:

    (share the categories)


    1. Now does everyone know which category they fit into?...

    2. All right let's have all the people in the first category (name it).

    3. Please come up here and form a single line. We now want to follow on with all the people in the second category (name it); just follow on from the first category forming a
    single file.

    4. If any of you have a close colleague or friend in the room please change your position so that you stand next to that person.

    5. All right, now I will start at this end counting off table numbers, just go directly to your table as soon as I have told you your number.


    Here are the instructions for the discussion groups...


    1. Explain the categories so that everyone can understand them and decide which one they fit into.

    2. Deal with any persons unsure of their category.

    3. Have them line up along the wall or around the outside of the room so that you can maintain some order. Continue until all the groups are lined up in a single file.

    4. Move down the line counting off people as you go based on the number of discussion groups.

    5. Be ready to tell them what they are to do, how much time they have, etc. 


    Follow-Up Required: None


    Source: Dr. E Hamso at elling.hamso@eventroi.com

    Derived from: The IAF Europe Methods Workbook

    Comments (2) ( 2.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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    • This indeed will ensure diversity in each discussion group: however, naming "categories" of people may create problems if people don't see themselves in a category or resent the way the facilitator sees categories of people. I think there is danger in this time, as people are resisting being labelled.

      over 2 years ago
    • Delete
      over 2 years ago