IAF Methods

Good Manager Workshop

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an example how to facilitate the ToP workshop method

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To demonstrate the method of building a rational thought-thru model and to experience the power of careful thinking.


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  • White board, flipchart, post-its (A4 or 61/2" x 81/2"), tape, markers, etc.



Types of participants: Any who are or have managers



1. We want to do a workshop on the qualities of a good manager.

2. We will to this in 3 major steps. We will brainstorm ideas. We will organize these ideas into a rational form. We will then write sentences about the content of the form.

3. A brainstorm is used to generate ideas beyond those you would normally have if you thought about a subject. Two things are needed: limited time and the need for a lot of items. This forces the subconscious to throw ideas into the conscious mind. I want you to list everything that comes to mind whether it seems related to the topic or not.

4. At any time in the process of doing the workshop you may think of illustrations, board images, stories or examples. You should note them down as they come to mind.

Note: This longer context is not necessary for groups familiar with the method.



1. I want each of you to take a piece of paper number it  1-45. You have 5 minutes to list as many items on the qualities of a good manager as you can. Aim for 45. (This figures depend on how many participants there are, aim for about 100 pieces of information.)

2. (After 5 min.) We are now going to list these qualities on the board. We want to list all of them if we can. I want you to mark the 5 most clear items on your list.
Note: The number of items selected as most clear varies depending on the number of people in the group. You want to get 10 to 20 percent of the data out in this round.

3. Go around the room getting one item per person and putting them on the board. Keep doing this until each of the 5 items are up.

4. I want you to mark the 5 best items on your list not on the board.

5. Go around the room getting all five items from each person.

6. I want you to look at your list an select the 5 most different items.
7. Ask for any one to add items from their list of five items.

8. If there are any more room on the board left ask people for additional items until the board is filled.

Organizing the data

1. We want to organize these items into the major categories.

2. First we will just mark each similar item with a symbol ?, ?, #, $, + etc. Which items seem most related? Mark with a symbol.

3. When we have 5 or 6 symbols out then you can ask for names for the clusters the symbols are marking. What are the triangles about? or What is a holding name we could give them? Put the symbols on a flip chart and put the holding names next to them.

4. Ask if there are different categories that have not been named. Are there any other different categories that go together?

5. When there seem to be no new categories coming out of the group put each unmarked item into categories or create new categories. Let's start with the the left over items. Beginning with the first unmarked item which category does this go with? If there is a lot of disagreement, you can do one of three things. If there is an argument about it going into two different items and you can see a reason for both, mark it with both symbols. If it is unclear what categories it should go in, ask if it goes into a new area using a new symbol. If it is unclear and there are a lot of other items you can leave it to be decided later.


1. When every item is in a category then give clear names. We want to give these names. We will use the form of "adjective noun" to name them. What is this category about? This is the noun, for example: leader, coach, administrator or colleague. What kind of _____ is a good manager? Here you are after an adjective, for example: visionary leader, or inspiring coach etc. Avoid too vague or general name like good leader.

2. Continue to do this until there all categories have names.

3. We will divide into teams one for each of the categories. You will be responsible for writing a clear sentence or two describing this quality. You should use all the information on board marked by the symbols for your category. You may find that new ideas come up as you are working add these to you list. Are there any questions? You have 15 minutes to do this. When you are done please put them on the form at the front of the room. If there are too many categories for the number of teams you may want to give each team 2 or 3 categories.

4. When the teams are finished, do a brief reflection. I would like for each team to read their sentences for each category.

5. If there is time you can ask the following questions.

- What words or phrases did you hear?

- Where did you experience excitement about the sentences?
- For any of the points can you think of an illustration or story that makes the point?


1. We want to reflect a little on the process. What are some of the steps we went through to do this workshop?

2. What seemed to be helpful?

3. What was unhelpful?

4. How could you use this process?


1. We have done a lot of work this morning and we will now go to lunch. Are there any other announcements?


Follow-Up Required: None

Usual or Expected Outcomes: Model of the qualities of a good manager


Source: Jon Jenkins

Derived from: The Institute of Cultural Affairs basic Workshop Method.

History of Development: This was originally developed as a training demonstration for Training of Facilitators program.

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