15% Solutions

15% Solutions
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15% Solutions is about changing the landscape by moving a few grains of sand

15% Solutions is an engaging and practical liberating structure designed to spark big change by starting small. It’s always easy to get lost in over-the-top, ambitious ideas that get stuck in the reality of the job.

You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a big difference.

15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.

With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.

Four Structural Elements

1. Structuring Invitation

  • In connection with their personal challenge or their group’s challenge, ask, “What is your 15 percent? Where do you have discretion and freedom to act? What can you do without more resources or authority?”

2. How Space Is Arranged and Materials Needed

  • Unlimited number of groups.
  • Chairs for people to sit in groups of 2-4; no tables required.

3. How Participation Is Distributed

  • Everyone is included
  • Everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute
  • First alone, then in pairs or small groups
See also  Heard, Seen, Respected

4. Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation

  • First alone, each person generates his or her own list of 15% Solutions. 5 min.
  • Individuals share their ideas with a small group (2 to 4 members). 3 min. per person and one person at a time
  • Group members provide a consultation to one another (asking clarifying questions and offering advice). 5 to 7 min. per person and one person at a time
Purposes and Objectives
  • Move away from blockage, negativism, and powerlessness
  • Have people discover their individual and collective power
  • Reveal bottom-up solutions
  • Share actionable ideas and help one another
  • Build trust
  • Remember unused capacity and resources (15 percent is always there for the taking)
  • Reduce waste
  • Close the knowing-doing gap
Tips
  • You can make individual 15% Solutions transparent on stickies and collect them on a location that the team frequently visits
  • Emphasize that 15% Solutions isn’t about coming up with the most brilliant, creative or intelligent solutions. Sometimes it’s all about finding the first step that feels doable and safe. It’s a great way to build confidence
  • 15% Solutions can be used on a purely personal level just fine. They work best when groups of individuals can work together to identify contributions to common, shared purposes or challenges
  • Be ready for BIG things to emerge via the butterfly effect
  • Reinventing the wheel is OK
  • Each 15% Solution adds to understanding of what is possible
  • Clear, common purpose and boundaries will generate coherence among many 15% Solutions
  • Make it a routine to ask for 15% Solutions in meetings (15% Solutions are otherwise commonly unnoticed and overlooked)
See also  Friendly Flyers
Example
  • For any problem-solving or planning activity in which you want individuals to take initiative
  • For inclusion in the conveners report in Open Space sessions
  • For any challenge that requires many people to change for success to emerge
  • For generating small “chunks” of success that can be combine

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