Engaging in large group dialogue

Imagine hundreds of people thinking and acting together about the important questions facing your organization. People start in small groups, leaning in to listen and engage in conversation.  The conversation moves to the larger group and the dialogue continues. Amazing ideas are generated and assessed.

The wisdom is in the room.

The research is in.  People who engage in thinking about the future are more committed to making that future healthcare div cafehappen.  Even if their ideas aren’t the ones selected.

The genius of effective large group dialogue techniques is that they allow for the diversity and intimacy of small groups and the mixing of ideas and emerging consensus of the large group.  Here are some large group dialogue techniques that we have used:


Open Space Technology

Purpose:  To generate and explore issues and topics of importance
Founder:   Owen Harrison
Numbers:   50-500+
Format:     Participants generate topics and people self-select where they want to go for self-facilitated discussions
Resource: Open Space Technology User’s Guide.

world-caféWorld Café

Purpose:    To explore critical questions and find common ground
Source:     Juanita Brown and David Isaacs
Numbers:    60-500+ people
Format:       Small (4-5 people) in self-facilitated groups rotate through three rounds and explore questions and generate ideas
Resource:    World Café workbook

Appreciative Inquiry

Purpose:     To discover the best in people and their organizations in order to facilitate change
Source:       David Cooperrider and Diana Whitney
Numbers:     50- 1,000+ people representating the whole system
Format:         Starting with appreciative interviews, Discover “what is”, Dream “what might be”, Design “what should be” and Do “what needs to be done”
Resource:     Free excerpt from practitioner’s guide


Peggy Holman and Tom Devane, The Change Handbook: Group Methods for Shaping the Future (1999, Berrett-Koehler Publishers).

Contact us for a discussion about engaging in powerful conversations.