IAF Methods

Reviewing with ropes

by for . Last edit was about 2 years ago
any any

This method is used to intuitively evaluate the progress of a group or the individuals within an activity.

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The goal of this process is to get an intuitive evaluation of how the participants, individually or as a group, succeed with a certain activity.


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  • A piece of rope for each participant
  • Paper and pencil to draw a rope is an alternative.



Setting: Needed is a room big enough for everyone to place a rope, and one rope per person, or alternatively, if there is not enough space, one piece of paper and a pencil, so that the participants can draw their rope.

Number of participants: any

Types of participants: Any types of participants can be involved in this process.

Time needed: The amount of time needed is very different, depending on the size of the group, and on the depth of the review.

Ideal conditions: The room needs to be big enough to give all the participants the opportunity to place their rope on the floor, and move forward.

Pre-Work Required: Prepare ropes -- one per participant -- decide how long the ropes need to be for the specific exercise you are using

Facilitator personality fit: The facilitator does not need any particular characteristics, as he/she only needs to supervise the group.


This method offers a number of variations, of which the two most common ones will be described here. For more variations, please see the original homepage.

Objective line.

This method is recommended for reviewing processes of an individual against a goal.
a first preparation step, each individual places his/her rope on the ground in front of them, in a straight line. The near point represents their starting point, being the Now, and the far end depicts their goal for the next activity, for a program, or anything similar.
Now the facilitator asks each person to walk along their line, towards the future, pausing every now and then for thoughts of what might happen, and how that might make them feel. When everybody has finished the "journey" they are asked to find a partner in order to talk about their journey and goal, one after the other.
After this first "active previewing" part, the planned activity, program etc. can start, and as soon as participants have made progress (at the end of the activity, or in between) they can return to their objective lines. Here they can, with or without the partner measure their progress by choosing where to stand on the line. This is a self-assessment that is instantly visible for themselves and others. The facilitator can now ask questions in order to help people reflect on their position, or to notice others'. Now the facilitator can either encourage a group discussion, or initiate a talk to a partner.


This method is recommended for reviewing progress against a group-related goal.
For this variation of the "Objective line", each rope is placed on the ground in a way that it makes the spokes of a wheel.
The outer ends of the ropes are the starting points for the individuals, and the center represents the (group) goal. With this method listening to others, or supporting them, talking, providing leadership, clear thinking, or many similar things can be evaluated.
The facilitator should draw attention to the fact that every participant should decide on their own position, without getting influenced from others. As soon as everybody is in position, participants can exchange opinions about the positions of others. Mostly this leads to positive feedback, as others invite individuals to come closer to the center, but it might also lead to criticism when asking someone to move away from the center. The facilitator should establish if this is wanted/allowed beforehand.

Alternative: The spokes can be imaginary. Start off with everyone standing in a circle facing the centre. Ask them to imagine they are each standing half way along a spoke that leads into the centre of the circle.


Follow-Up Required: There is no follow-up required.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: At the end, both, the facilitator and the participants will have evaluated their process in an activity, and are now able to use these results, for example to improve.

How success is evaluated: The process can be considered successful when the participants realize what they have achieved, and are able to evaluate the result, so as to e.g. improve their skills for another activity.


Source: Roger Greenaway


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  • Uses visual and kinesthetic techniques to intuitively evaluate a situation -- good to use techniques other than just words

    over 3 years ago