GOLDdrop Group Facilitation Software

Introduction

GOLDdrops Facilitator Blank Start.jpg

Workshops with groups of individuals are often held to discover, resolve, share, vote, select, prioritise or to plan matters. When groups of people get together to unpack and resolve topics it invariably results in too much discussion and inefficient use of time. Often workshops outputs are skewed by dominant individuals’ views while many feel that their points of view are never heard. Topics under discussion more often than not have several related points without knowing which ones to focus on. How to prioritise and follow up on these is often unstructured and GOLDdrops aims to resolve these shortcomings.

Importantly, ensuring an accurate and speedy documented record of the workshop is vital to enable a timely follow-up - "strike while the iron is hot".  This often takes several days and may be skewed or have a biaise based on the person collating and interpreting the workshop inputs.  GOLDdrops strives to overcome this.

 

With GOLDdrops each mini session or discussion is saved, based on actual participants inputs and sent to each Participant within hours of the workshop concluding. The Facilitator also takes a screen snap shot of the actual inputs per session, as shown on the screen, and this will link to the summarised text inputs. It is well known that a pictorial visual is effective to reinforce the discussions within a workshop and will help incalcate the workshop experience.

GOLDdrops is best suited for groups from around  8 or so to about 16 Participants and each Participant has the possibility of 1 to 4 separate inputs, that are colour coded and weighted, per topic under discussion. This allows for between 8 to 32 and 16 to 64 individual Participants inputs, depending on how many are in the group. The Facilitator will initially group all like minded inputs under a sub-heading and the first four sub-headings will have attached an aggregated weighting factor. Participants may comment if they think that a particular input has not been placed in the correct sub-grouping or even if it should be entirely separate and the possible start of an entirely new sub-group - other group members would need to concur.

 

Key Attributes

GOLDdrops has several important attributes that strives to achieve : 

  • 100% participation,

  • 100% confidentiality,

  • 100% equality,

  • 100% visibility,

  • 100% focus,

  • 100% objectivity,

  • 100% immediate record, and

  • 100% multi language

 

while at the same time not detracting nor eliminating essential group discussion or debate.

 

GOLDdrops may be used for many types of workshops or group discussions. The most common and obvious include the following types but are not necessarily confined to these :

  • Identifying issues

  • Resolving matters

  • Prioritising issues

  • Action plans

  • Strategic sessions

  • Visioning sessions

  • SWOT analysis

  • Identifying CSFs

  • Brain storming

  • ‘de Bono’ type sessions

  • Voting or nominating

 

There are numerous types of workshops or group sessions that could use GOLDdrops to improve the facilitation process. This should not be interpreted to mean that this system can be used for every single type of workshop. Certain workshops of a technical nature or where Participants are more focused on terminology or are required to create pictorial inputs, may find that GOLDdrops does not meet their full requirements.

Process

The overall workshop is given a name and each session within the workshop starts with a blank canvas and is also given a specific subject or topic name. Depending on the nature of the subject up to four separate inputs may be colour coded for an easy quick visual view and at the same time each input type is allocated a weighting factor from 1 to 4. (These may be either positive or negative.)

 

The Facilitator and each Participant all have their own individual computers which are linked via a network selected from one of many existing types of network setups. The Facilitator sets up the workshop by opening up the Facilitation Program and entering the name of the workshop, name of organisation, place and name of Facilitator. The Participants load the Participators Program and simply register by entering the Facilitator’s computer name. If WI-FI is available this would be the easiest rather than computer cables linking all devices.

 

The Group or Facilitator nominates a topic to be discussed. (Note: in practice topics have often been discussed beforehand and set up by the Facilitator so as to avoid wasting set up time during the workshop.) The topic will appear on each Participant’s screen and for each topic each Participant has the possibility of up to four weighted responses. (Note: these will have been explained at the outset by the Facilitator.) Responses may be positive, negative or equal/neutral and this will be decided by the group before starting or as part of the pre-workshop preparation.

 

Any topic that is selected is very much dependent upon the list of topics nominated and what is the overall objective of the workshop. Frequently there are several matters and in some cases new topics are created as a result of a group discussion - the new topic being a remedial one where the group brian storms to come up with suggestions to resolve an issue raised in the previous session. These all form an integral part in the workshop flow of discussions.

 

The Participants’ responses, which may be prioritised, are only known to them and are sent to the Facilitator in an anonymous manner. The Facilitator acts as a gate keeper for any inappropriate, incorrect or misleading input provided by a Participant. These are "bounced" back by the Facilitator to that Participant with a brief explanatory comment and is only seen by that Participant. The Participant is able to resubmit another input to replace their previous input that was bounced back. The weighted inputs are sorted into meaningful groups by the Facilitator and these can be reviewed by the Participants who now clearly see them displayed up on a screen and are able to discuss the group’s view on the selected topic. See an example below.

 

GOLDdrops Main Features

 

Honeycomb Hexagon Cells Grid

The Facilitator’s blank screen view is shown below before entering basic details about the workshop as alluded to above. Using an overhead projector to display this view on a large screen will assist with focusing the individuals in the group and help to keep the discussion on track. The overall layout, shapes, colours, honeycomb hexagon cells grid are all part and parcel of GOLDdrops and key to the functionality of processing the activities. It is possible to change colours but not the shapes as these are essential as will become self evident. The specific features alluded to will be explained and set out in more detail below.

The right hand side panel provides the Facilitator with a host of options and variations to select from. The combinations are almost endless. Many of these can be set up before the workshop commences and aligned to the topic at hand. A good example is shown below for a SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) discussion - in this case the mere colours convey the message and there is no need to use the weighting option.

GOLDdrops Facilitator Blank Start.jpg

The Participants blank screen view for all intent and purposes is the same as that of the Facilitator's blank screen. The obvious difference being the right hand side panels that are completely different. Participants are only interested in the four hexagon blanks on the right hand side. As soon as the Facilitator sets up the workshop and  the Participants connect with the Facilitator's computer the topic heading will be shown as will the four hexagon options - which are all blank and only colour coded. The Participants merely select each of the four hexagons one at a time and insert a key word or a few key words to convey their message. These are then sent to the Facilitator who then groups all like minded comments from the various Participants without being concerned about the colour of the hexagon as these essentially only relate to the weighting.

GOLDdrops Participators Blank Start.jpg

Honeycomb Hexagon Cells Grid

In the example below, which is for a SWOT analysis, the Participants' right hand side panel shows four coloured hexagons which depict the theme for each SWOT element. These are automatically weighted and therefore de facto equal.

 

The Facilitator will embed each hexagon received in the quadrant related to the colour and sub-group like minded inputs to highlight specific messages within that SWOT quadrant.

GOLDdrops Web Participants Screen EG.jpg

Under STRENGTHS the most positive relate to Management and Staff. Under WEAKNESSES there are two sub-groups concerning Finance / Financial and Cash / Debt / Working Capital. Under OPPORTUNITIES a Growing Market and Weakening Competitors is suggested. While under THREATS these are Political Uncertainty, Unemployment and the Bank RIPO rate that the group have concerns about. Obviously in this example only about two thirds of Participants inputs have been inserted as STRENGTHS has 8 inputs (group consists of 8 individuals) and therefore the other three SWOT attributes still have to be completed to give a more complete balanced view. It must be noted that each Participant is not obligated to provide all four possibilities, merely the ones they feel strongly about. So this is a WIP snap view as an example.

GOLDdrops Web Facilitator Screen EG.jpg

The above is the Facilitator's view which is almost the same as for the Participants but it shows two differences. Under WEAKNESSES there is another input "NO MONEY" and this is correctly grouped with the three other like minded inputs. More interesting is that on the Participant's screen there is a green OPPORTUNITY input for RIPO rate increase which is clearly not correct and was sent back to the Participant by the Facilitator. The Facilitator intermittently updates and refreshes so that the latest version of inputs is also displayed on each Participant's own computer screen.

Below is another example for purposes of selecting an individual - as seen from a Participant's perspective. This could be for an employee staff member to represent and communicate concerns to management. The example below just to select the most popular management member is a most unlikely case but is simply to demonstrate the flexibility of GOLDdrops. In this situation upto 60 staff members are able to vote and simply come in one at a time or in small groups if there are several  computers. Each person simply selects one of the 4 options and types in the name of the person they want to vote for. If there are only say 15 staff members then they will be able to select up to 3 candidates giving each a different weighted vote.

GOLDdrops Web Participant Screen EG 2.jpg

Below is the same session but now shown from the Facilitator's screen. It is patently clear that they are identical in terms of displaying the outcomes. Two candidates, Peter and John have almost an equal weighting of 36% and 35% respectively, so there is a good case for a run-off between the two of them. If deemed unnecessary as an observer I would suggest that Peter is the more favourable selection, not simply due to the very fine margin of 1%, but more importantly that John's voting is more equally split and perceived groupings made up of "them" and "us" - this tends to polarise opinions. While Peter's voting is more evenly spread implying a more encompassing individual as perceived by others.

GOLDdrops Web Facilitator Screen EG 2.jpg

Conclusion

Hopefully the above description and details have provided a useful indication and insight as to how GOLDdrops functions as well as the variety and capability of GOLDdrops. It is important to reiterate that by using GOLDdrops it should in no way diminish any aspects of the workshop process and is not designed to remove the discussions not stifle debate within any workshop group. To the contrary hopefully it adds to this process but with greater focus resulting in more clarity in a more efficient and effective manner. 

Should you want to have further discussions or a demo please contact me and give an idea as to the anticipated situation that you are planning for.