10 remixable social techniques for better organizing & decision-making!
How do you take democratic decisions in large groups? How do you solve problems together with many people you don’t know? In several workshops we fine tuned principles of decentralized and collaborative organization and decision-making.
Open State uses a growing collection of social tools to help us organize. In the spirit of Open Source we‘ve adopted and remixed hand signals from social movements like Occupy, meeting structures from Agile Software companies, and even been inspired by natural systems. The goals of these social tools are to help us develop shared understanding, make sure quiet voices are heard, and share our collective progress as we learn.
In this little how-to we show you how it works: after reading this you will have learned ten remixable social techniques as a fun and effective alternative to never-ending discussions without results.
1. HANDS UP MOUTHS SHUT
Noticing: yelling or banging an object to get the attention of the crowd causes stress
Solution: when you see someone raise their hand, copy them and stop talking — silence quickly spreads through the group
Noticing: when no one is guiding the meeting it’s easy to get off topic and sometimes difficult to get clear outcomes
Solution: have a person whose only role is to guide the meeting helps the conversation develop more productively
Noticing: taking a role, e.g. that of the facilitator, without having the group’s support/acceptance might cause dissatisfaction and trouble on both sides
Solution: clearly identify the role you would like for yourself and get the group’s affirmation to act on it
4. MEETING PURPOSE
Noticing: starting a meeting with different expectations on what the meeting is about leads to frustration
Solution: ask the question ‘What’s the purpose of this meeting?’ — and get a clear agreement before starting
5. DEEP LISTENING
Noticing: in everyday life we tend to put people and what they say into categories and act on assumptions that simply don’t hold true
Solution: try to hear everyone in the group and use the wisdom of your crowd. Listen attentively and try to keep an open mind and heart about what is being said
Noticing: discussions can take forever and you don’t manage to discuss all the points on your agenda
Solution: identify a timekeeper, set an end time and allocate times to your discussion points accordingly to make sure you cover all important things
Noticing: there are many topics to discuss, but there isn’t enough time to tackle them in one session
Solution: list all the topics, vote which three are the most important ones, process them, and record what needs discussion later on
8. MOOD FEEDBACK
Noticing: in large groups it’s difficult to sense how individuals are feeling or assessing a situation
Solution: ask for a mood feedback with thumbs up/down to express support or dissent. Also, doing a round of single words to capture feedback might be a fast and helpful way to get the big picture
Noticing: in meetings it’s easy to spend all your time discussing problems
Solution: invite everyone to thank one other person for something they did that was helpful
10. CLOSING CEREMONY
Noticing: whole group update meetings can last forever, which can make people unhappy
Solution: invite everyone to agree to close the meeting by doing something together — this clearly ends the meeting
Now you’re set to plan and run through a meeting that gets things done without losing people on the way.
Please feel free to use, remix and adapt any technique learned to your purpose and share your ideas, learnings and feedback.