IAF Methods

Consensus Workshop Method

by for . Last edit was 24 days ago
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This is the generic form of the ToP Workshop Method.

There are two approaches in the use of this method, either with cards on a sticky wall or using a simple brainstorm list on flipchart (suitable for smaller groups and smaller list of ideas)  Either approach can be used with virtual walls or canvases.

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To brainstorm ideas to a topic of concern and to cluster these ideas and put similar items into related categories

The process is widely used to generate consensus on a vision or strategic actions.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • Flipchart
  • or white board or sticky wall
  • or virtual whiteboard platform (like Linoit, Mural or Google Jamboard)
  • markers
  • cards or large sticky notes for board or wall
  • maybe masking tape



Pre-Work Required: Develop a clear statement of the focus question.


1. Clarify the topic of the workshop and ask the focus question

2. Each person brainstorms answers individually, then shares with a small group.

3. Small groups write answers on cards (participants) OR on a flipchart (facilitator)
    recommended: use flipchart with smaller groups and shorter list of brainstorm
    items, use cards for bigger group and larger amount of brainstormed ideas

4. Cluster ideas to answer the focus question

5. Name results, i.e. name the clusters

6. Reflect and resolve



The Workshop Book, by Brian Stanfield, The Institute of Cultural Affairs published by New Society Publishers

Also in Getting to the Bottom of ToP: Foundations of the Methodology of the Technology of Participation, by Wayne and Jo Nelson, published by iUniverse

Derived from:

History of Development: Developed in the mid 1960's and refined over the next 40 plus years across the world.

Alternative names: Basic Workshop Method and ToP Workshop Method

Comments (1) ( 4.5  avg / 2 ratings)

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  • Best use of this method uses symbols to help clustering, so that the group is not sorting ideas into previously identified themes, but is allowing new relationships to emerge from the data

    over 2 years ago