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Brief Description

A method for prioritization of issues for analysis in a planning or visioning exercise. Participants are encouraged to "vote with their feet" by volunteering firstly to lead a group, and then once group leaders have been identified remaining participants decide which group discussions they wish to join. Any topic for which there are no volunteers for leaders, or for which there are few or no willing participants is not taken forward, since the participants voted with their feet not to prioritize it.


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When to use

A method to when trying to decide which issues are highest priority to address in a workplanning or visioning process, especially if the group finds it hard to agree on which issues to tackle first after trying methods such as dotmocracy.
This is particularly useful when many members of a group insist that all proposed topics for further exploration or detailed planning in a meeting are important and all need to be addressed - but there is insufficient time or too small a group to do so.
In a diverse group with differing opinions it is a good way to identify those topics around which there is common interest and enthusiasm to move forward.

How to use

Once a list of proposed topics is identified, volunteers are requested to lead or facilitate the discussions for each topic. Usually a person can only volunteer to lead one topic. If any of the proposed topic has no "willing" discussion leader then that topic is automatically discarded or put aside for later discussion.

Once you have a list of topics and potential discussion leaders, if there are still too many topics to cover (or if as facilitator you sense that not all of these topics are really considered important by the group) then you ask participants to sort themselves into groups according to which topics they most wish to explore. If any topic has few or no participants then this topic is discarded or put aside for later discussion.

This is similar in approach to open space as a means for addressing issues that people are most willing to address, but is different in that the choice of topics is done after some initial exploration and discussion of current issues. This technique is often used as part of strategic planning processes.

Tips and Lessons Learnt

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Examples & Stories

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Who can tell me more?

  • Ian Thorpe (ithorpe [at] unicef.org)

Related Methods / Tools / Practices


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Page Authors

Ian Thorpe (UNICEF)