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July 26th, 2016


When a group brainstorming session comes to its natural end, as a facilitator you’re in a very interesting place. Somewhere in your team’s creative outpouring will be the ideas that enable you to meet your project’s objectives. However, the next step of working out where they are critical.

There are lots of different prioritisation techniques for both issues and solutions. Nominal Group Techniques are a great way of moving forward while ensuring everyone in the team gets an equal chance to shape the outcome. Facilitating them couldn’t be easier too, which can be a relief after having to keep up with the hectic pace at which ideas are often generated.

There are different options involving allocating numbers and recording votes in tables, but if you want to keep it simple all you need is some strips of dot stickers and sticky notes or a flip chart.

red dot picWith the issues or solutions on sticky notes or flip chart paper on the walls around the room, you hand each participant the same amount of dots and they apply them to whichever they think is the highest priority. Encourage them to re-familiarise themselves with the content, and clarify with the whole group when necessary. If they wish they can put more than one dot on the same idea, but they are all limited to the same total quantity.

When everyone’s dots are used up, it’s simply a case of listing which ideas got the most votes. If you brainstormed solutions you now have the beginnings of an action plan, or if it was issues you now have agreement on where efforts should be focussed.


Nominal Group Techniques have two big advantages over other prioritisation methods. Firstly, they are much easier to facilitate with a large group because you don’t have to worry about missing anyone’s input and everyone talking at once. Perhaps most importantly though, everyone gets an equal say, any concerns around the “he who shouts loudest” pitfall of many group sessions are eliminated.

You can confidently leave your workshop knowing that you have a genuine group consensus over which direction your work should take.

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