Maximising Participation

Off I went yesterday to an excellent training day organised by the Kinharvie Institute. It was all about how to engage people in large groups and to find ways of helping groups to include as many voices as possible in consultation. Being Kinharvie it was very well organised indeed and there were lots of good ideas to think about.

The morning session was all about using a room as a “world cafe” for consultation – lots of writing and doodling on the tablecloths was encouraged as we worked through a process of getting people to respond to questions asked of the whole group.

In the afternoon we were using open space technology – a particular method of getting a large group of people to talk about the topics that matter to them in smaller sub-groups.

This kind of thing has obvious cross-over potential to church – congregation as well as synods, whole church consultations and provincial conferences. I know that the Diocese of Edinburgh meets around tables when it meets in Synod and that must have changed it completely.

Lots of the large meetings that I go to involve people sitting in rows listening to a single speaker opine from a lectern of power. Its an efficient process but one which rewards the gobby and articulate. (And yes, I am a paid up, card carrying member of the Society for the Gobby and Articulate). This day was about thinking about different ways of doing things so that more voices are heard and very good it was too.

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