Managing Big Groups Interactively

A post in one of my lists asked for ideas about running large groups, but did not share anything about specific desired outcomes, just that the group was more than 100 people.

So, I posted up these general ideas around what are a zillion possibilities.

..

We have been doing large group interactive team building events for 20 years, so there are a lot of ways to make this work.



I focus on doing fun things, with direct links to business improvement. It is about engaging people in the process and giving them a sense of ownership that makes these events stick in their minds and generate the possibility for actual behavior change down the road.



large group teambuilding fun
Giving people the chance to participate is engaging

People do want to interact and share their ideas, rather than casually watch some powerpoint presentation while processing their email on their cell phones (if they can get away with it). I have seen very senior executives sitting at a front table actually processing their US Post Office mail while “attending” to someone on their staff’s presentation (really!).

Without knowing anything about desired outcomes, let me make a few general suggestions.



– Round tables of 6 – anything other than that will sub-optimize results. More people = less interaction and an increased likelihood that one person will dominate a discussion. Square tables unconsciously generate seat dominance for a few people — you cannot get around it.



– Interactivity and tabletop discussion as part of the design.

- Capturing ideas on paper and posting on the walls. With large groups, it is hard to allow much “shout out” and you just capture a tiny bit of the discussed content. Paper postings allow more information to be shared and later captured.

– Forced Browsing of all ideas by all people — we use “Dot-Voting” whereby each person gets 3 or 4 colored dots that they need to use to vote on best ideas. They cannot vote on their own work…



…and frameworks like that. I will commonly facilitate sessions of 150 to 200 people and have done these same things with groups as large as 600.



Mostly, I use my Square Wheels® cartoon illustrations and my team building games like “The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine” for generating active involvement.



Remember the simple concept that, “Nobody ever washes a rental car,” and that creating a sense of ownership involvement is a critical component of a successful interactive program.


Do you have any ideas you can contribute to this question?

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