One of my specializations is designing and facilitating meetings in which people with diverse interests can tackle complex challenges, like how to aid refugees or how to innovate next-generation solar technology. During these gatherings, people typically generate dozens of ideas. So keeping people curious about each other’s ideas is a key to success for these conversations. And the Proposal Feedback Poster is a tool for stimulating openness and exchange among people with potentially divergent agendas.

Shifting people from binary thinking (e.g., agree vs. disagree, good idea vs. bad idea, realistic vs. impractical) toward a “continuum of support” mindset is one of the best ways to help them find common ground and to collaborate to refine their ideas. I first learned about this idea from author Sam Kaner who calls it “gradients of agreement.” It enables members of a group to express their support for a proposal in degrees, along a scale like this:

Inspired: “Enthusiastically support this”

Like: “Basically, I like this”

Neutral: “I have no opinion”

Concern: “I have concerns”

Oppose: “I do not support this”

Confusion: “I do not understand”

The Proposal Feedback Poster uses the continuum of support to rate each idea and to provide feedback. Here’s how the process works.

1. Give the group a clear question aimed at promoting ideas or solutions to achieve a particular goal (e.g., What will enable us to become the best place to work in the industry?)

2. Individuals or small groups produce proposals ranging in length from one sentence to a single page. Proposals are taped to the designated space on Feedback Posters (one proposal per poster) which line the walls of the room.

3. Participants are asked to mill around, stop at each poster, read the proposal, and to use a marker and post-it notes to weigh-in on the following questions:

* On the scale provided, what is your level of support for this idea?
* What do you like most about this proposal?
* What changes to the proposal would increase your support?

4. Once the group completes this task and the current level of support for each proposal is visible to the group the originators of the proposal take the feedback they have received and refined their idea for a second round.

Click here for a free pdf copy of the Proposal Feedback Poster.

Photo Credit: James Broad