Wise Crowds

Wise Crowds

Tap the Wisdom of the Whole Group in Rapid Cycles With Wise Crowds

Wise Crowds is a liberating structure that helps the group develop and generate more flow of ideas in quick fifteen-minute cycles. This activity helps groups build the behavioral repertoire to listen, understand, critique, and expand on ideas.

Wise Crowds make it possible to instantly engage a small or large group of people in helping one another. Individuals, referred to as “clients,” can ask for help and get it in a short time from all the other group members.

Each individual consultation taps the expertise and inventiveness of everyone in the group simultaneously. Individuals gain more clarity and increase their capacity for self-correction and self-understanding. Wise

Additionally, this activity develops people’s ability to ask for help. They deepen research and consulting skills.

Four Structural Elements

1. Structuring Invitation

  • Ask each participant when his or her turn comes to be the “client” to briefly describe his or her challenge and ask others for help.
  • Ask the other participants to act as a group of “consultants” whose task it is to help the “client” clarify his or her challenge and to offer advice or recommendations.

2. How Space Is Arranged and Materials Needed

  • Groups of 4 or 5 chairs arranged around small tables or in circles without tables
  • Paper for participants to take notes

3. How Participation Is Distributed

  • Everyone is included
  • Everyone has an equal amount of time to ask for and get help
  • Everyone has an equal opportunity to offer help
  • Groups of 4 to 5 people
    Mixed groups across functions, levels, and disciplines are ideal
  • The person asking for help, the “client,” turns his or her back on the consultants after the consultation question has been clarified.
See also  Min Specs

4. Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation

Each person requesting a consult (the client) gets fifteen minutes broken down as follows:

  • The client presents the challenge and request for help. 2 min.
  • The consultants ask the client clarifying questions. 3 min.
  • The client turns his or her back to the consultants and gets ready to take notes
  • The consultants ask questions and offer advice, and recommendations, working as a team, while the client has his or her back turned. 8 min.
  • The client provides feedback to the consultants: what was useful and what he or she takes away. 2 min.
Purposes and Objectives
  • Generate results that are enduring because each individual and the group produced them together without “outside expertise”
  • Refine skills in giving, receiving, and asking for help
  • Tap the intelligence of a whole group without time-consuming up and sideways presentations
  • Liberate the wisdom and creativity that exists across disciplines and functional silos
  • Actively build trust through mutual support and peer connections
  • Practice listening without defending
  • Invite a very diverse crowd to help (not only the experts and leaders)
  • See Helping Heuristics for a complete list of unwanted patterns when helping or asking for help.
  • Remind participants to try to stay focused on the client’s direct experience by asking, “What is happening here? How are you experiencing what is happening?”
  • Advise the consultants to take risks while maintaining empathy
  • Avoid having some participants choosing not to be clients: everybody has at least one challenge!
  • If the first round is weak, try a second round
  • For multisite research/learning groups to support and learn from each other
  • To replace progress presentations and reviews
  • For managers trying to solve problems associated with a merger
  • For foundation grantees trying to scale up their socio-tech innovations
  • For getting advice on improving a relationship with one other person
  • For salespeople (distributed over a large geography) getting help with developing and keeping new customers
See also  Draw Your Mood

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