How to Facilitate a Large Group Agreement Quickly
Quick agreement is needed during the visioning exercise that often occurs during the first public meeting of a charrette. Participants are seated in groups of no more than eight people per table. Each table has a facilitator and recorder. During this exercise, each table creates a long list of vision items: statements of what they envision the study area looking and performing like twenty years from the present. Each idea is recorded by simultaneously drawing it on an aerial photograph and recording it on a flip chart. At the end of the visioning exercise, the facilitator asks the table to prioritize their top three vision items to report back to the larger group.
The challenge is to perform this prioritization quickly so as to maximize the time available for group discussion. Using the “green dot/red dot” technique is one effective method to use. The facilitator gives each participant six sticky dots, four green and two red. Each person votes for his or her four favorite vision elements by placing a green dot next to the item on the flip chart. Double voting is not allowed. The red dots are used only for deal breakers. If there are no deal breakers then the red dots are not used. After participants vote, the recorder tallies them up and identifies the top three items. The group must then agree that these are their top items. If there are any red dot items, the author of that item is asked to clarify the point to be sure that everyone understands the intent. If it is still a deal breaker once the intent is clarified and understood, the item is noted in the report-back as an area of disagreement. The red dots are an effective method for identifying issues that potentially could make or break the project.