Saturday 6 February 2016

A Fun Piece of Technology

This week I was running an event with a large group, looking at whether a values-led strategy was a good idea. That included lots of other questions, of course, such as what we mean by values, and what we mean by values-led, and so on.

As well as the usual business of plenary sessions with questions, and syndicate work on case studies, we were keen to do some more participative work in plenary sessions, so we decided to experiment with Poll Everywhere.

This is a web-based solution that allows you to pose questions, and everyone to contribute their thinking, which is automatically, and immediately, displayed on the screen in your conference room. People contribute by logging into the site on their smartphone, tablet or laptop, which then displays the poll question and the options for answers.

So we were able to poll people on arrival, about whether they thought a values-led strategy was a good idea, with the options of Yes, No, and Don’t Know. The Yeses were the largest group, followed by the Don’t Knows.

We then asked why it might be a good idea, and offered a list of options for people to choose from. Likewise, we asked why it might not be a good idea, and again offered a list of options for people to choose from. Finally (in this opening session) we asked them what values they would like to see lead the organisation, and they could write whatever they wanted – the results being displayed as a word-cloud, developing in real time.  That of course meant that people were able to respond to what others were writing: once someone had written ‘Integrity’ many others did so too, so the word grew and grew on the screen.

Later in the day, we also used it to collect answers to a case study, which was read out in plenary; and at the end of the day, we polled them again about whether they thought a values-led strategy was a good idea. The Yeses were a significant majority, having gone up, whilst Don't Knows had gone down, and the Noes had also increased. All of which was interesting feedback both for us and for participants about how views had shifted during the day.

So it was a lot of fun. Participants visibly enjoyed the opportunity to take part in this way (and of course it is particularly good for those who don’t like speaking in front of groups). But it was fun with a purpose. It enabled both us and the participants to get a real sense of where the weight of opinion lay, in a very short space of time, and also how that shifted over time. 

At the end of the day, we were able to pull off a report, with graphics of all the votes and the numbers behind them. All in all, a very good package, at a reasonable cost (I think we paid $199 for a month's package, to enable us to build the questions, try them out and so on. Cheaper packages are available for smaller groups, and you can try it for free).

I will certainly be using it again; and judging from the comments on the day, so will many of those who attended the event.

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