What is going on inside a group? Have we paid attention to all voices, both the quiet and the loud? Is everyone on board or are some lost at sea?
Temperature Check gives an instant visual overview of the thoughts and feelings of every group member around a specific topic, and from here, creates an opening for deeper conversation and understanding. At best, a non-threatening way of addressing the elephant in the room.
Clarity and overview of the individual opinions, feelings and experiences within a group or team. Ensuring all voices are, if not heard, at least seen.
Invite the participants to form a straight line, running through the middle of the space, standing shoulder to shoulder.
Set the space
Explain that the following activity is an exercise to visually hear each other – to finally see the unsaid. Simply to unearth what is. We are not here to solve anything or to reach consensus. Not yet. We are here to uncover all voices, and this is a space to listen to each other both with our ears and our eyes.
Welcome the participants to the Temperature Check: one end of the room is now hot, the other cold.
On the spectrum
With the participants standing in line, it's time for you to read a yes/no statement out loud (see below). The participants are invited to take steps forward or backwards, depending on their position on the statement. If they fully agree, they move to the far 'hot' end of the room, if they totally disagree, they go to the cold one. If lukewarm, they may find their place somewhere along the middle of the spectrum, wherever they see fit.
Invite the participants to take a look around and see how much or little the opinions of the group members vary.
Words to the visual
You might ask one of the participants to put words to the temperature now visible in the room. What do they see? You may also ask a few of the participants to explain their position. Why are you standing where you are standing?
It's a good idea to remind the participants that we are not here to problem-solve or align, but simply to observe.
Ask the participants to get back into the line. Repeat the process with the next statement.
Afterwards, conduct a short conversation about how the experience of witnessing the different opinions within the group has been. Possible debriefing questions:
What did we notice?
Were we surprised?
Was there something we had previously missed?
Where do we go from here?
These can be topics or questions particularly alive in the group. You may craft these yourself or source from the participants beforehand. Provocative or humorous formulations can make voicing one's opinion less daunting!
Examples of statements:
"I feel comfortable voicing my opinion in the working team."
"I believe we're wasting our time in this project and it's doomed to fail."
"If these were the office olympics, ours would win the gold medal for Best Workplace Ever."
When getting into hairy topics, gentle reminders of the purpose go a long way. We are here to uncover what has previously been hidden – NOT to make sense or argue... yet! ;) The Temperature Check can work well as an introductory element into a conflict resolution process, revealing what it is we now have the opportunity to work with together.