IAF Methods

Stepladder technique

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Discussing problems in groups of four

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Facilitation and structuring of decision making in groups in order to improve their effectiveness and the quality of the decision.


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  • Writing material and sufficient space


Number of participants: 4-25, Four participants (if the group is bigger, it can be divided up into teams of four who are concerned with sub-decisions of the problem at hand)

Types of participants: The method can be used in any educational, business or general institutional context.

Pre-Work Required: The facilitator should be familiar with the method and the problem that the group needs to solve. Advance knowledge about the group can also be helpful.


The procedure consists of three steps:

Step 1 is dividing the team of four into a core team of two people who start discussing the problem at hand. After 10-15 minutes (depending on the complexity of the problem), the group continues with

Step 2 as the third team member joins the core team by presenting his/her ideas regarding the problem. The core team listens and after the presentation, the three participants discuss the problem among themselves. The same procedure is carried out in

Step 3 when the fourth team member joins. He/she joins in, presents his or her perspective of the problem and the group discusses. Now when all members have joined in, the whole team discusses the problem in order to reach a solution together.

The benefits of this technique are that each member is given enough time to think about the problem and to speak his/her mind. By hearing everyone's point and giving it attention in the following up discussion, the group arrives at a joint conclusion which every group member supports.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: A decision to the problem at hand which is supported by the whole group.


Source: Rogelberg & O'Connor

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