Tools: Back to the future.

  • Time needed: 30-90 minutes, depending on the level of research.
  • Participants: 4-8 people per group, depending on the complexity of the topic.

Emotions are a significant driver of decision making.  One often makes decisions with the heart and justifies them with them mind.  Even if decisions seem illogical, they are likely to be based on what people see or have seen.  It is Plato’s allegory of the cave* – what you see (or have seen) is what you know. When dealing with groups, often there are very core issues that are capable of bringing people together and building trust, irrespective of  one’s world-view.

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A simple but highly effective way of looking at the heart of a problem is by asking people of their dream, their positive experiences and explore their fears.   We do this through creating a quadrant of positive/negative and  future/past.  The result is four quadrants: fears, hopes, nostalgia and trauma. OSMOS back to the future

In practice

There are a multitude of ways that this can be done within the context of a group.  Firstly draw the quadrant onto a board which is clearly visible by all the group.   It is useful to note names of those that mentioned each topic so then it is easier to trace the discussion.

  • Option 1 – ordered:   Move in a circle, one person to the next, asking them to describe aspects of the four quadrants.  Either add the comments to the quadrant as they are being described or do it once all of the group has had a chance to discuss.  Group in themes at the end of the discussion.
  • Option 2 – freestyle:  Allow the group to discuss freely amongst themselves one corner at a time.  The moderator should take notes and add them to the quadrant as they are mentioned.  This is very useful in groups that know each other well and there is already a strong group dynamic.
  • Option 3 – in private:  Get each group member to write down elements of the four quadrants on paper (post-its).  Then allow the group to lay them out on the quadrant in groups.  Use this as the basis for a discussion on refining what they mean for the group.