35: An Excellent Facilitation Technique For Big Crowds

You are going to facilitate a session. The session has a large number of people attending. You are not confident with your facilitation skills for large meetings. You are not sure how to ask them to come to an agreement on the next steps, what to work on, what, as a team, they need to focus on? If you find yourself in situations like that the 35 retrospective comes in handy.

This is how it works:

  • Distribute blank cards to everyone. 
    • I suggest to use a thick paper card and avoid using sticky notes. I also suggest the card to be colored on one side and white on the other side.
  • Come up with one thing
    • It can be idea, it can be an action item, it is mainly based on what you are looking to get out of the meeting. 
    • You would ask participants to write their idea on one side (e.g. the colored side) of the card.
    • You also need to remind them to only write one thing.
    • The writings need to be readable, this is very important.
    • Everyone should write something, or they are out of the game. This is also important.
  • Get them moving
    • This is the fun part. Now, you would ask everyone to stand up and walk with their cards in their hands.
    • You ask them to face the colored side to the floor.
    • They are going to exchange cards rapidly with other people. 
    • After a while, you would ask everyone to stop and find a partner
  • Scoring begins 
    • At this point you ask the couples to read each card and discuss it. 
    • They are going to score the cards up to 7 points. They are going to spread 7 points among two cards.
    • They can give one card 0 point and 7 points to the other one, or any other combination.
    • By the end of the discussion, they will write the points assigned to each card on the other side (e.g. the non-colored side) of the card.
  • Repeat 5 times
    • You would ask the participants to do this 4 more times, exchange their cards, find a partner and score.
  • Calculation of the points. 
    • After the 5th round, everyone needs to add up the points on the back (e.g. non-colored side) of the card and write it down. 
  • And the winner is ….
    • There is no winner per say1
    • You would ask who has a card with 35 points? If there weren’t any you ask for 34 points? If there weren’t any you would ask for 33? And so on. 
    • The cards with the highest points are the cumulative agreement of priorities based on the people participating. 
35 used in a retrospective
Update: I have found a post on gamestorming defining this exercise from Dave Gray.

1 The winner is of course you, if you insisting of finding the anwer. You managed to facilitate a session with full of energy, good discussions, and an outcome.

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