The moving discussion - practical case

Card's author : Gatien Bataille
Card's type of licence : Creative Commons BY-SA
Testimonies :



The goal is to present a set of situations to participants and offer two working hypotheses relating to the situations presented. Participants will have to choose one of the hypotheses and argue their choice to convince others to join them.


  • 1. the facilitator presents a situation
  • 2. He/she suggests two hypotheses to the group relating to the situation he or she has presented
  • 3. He/she asks the group to choose one and move to their right if they choose one hypothesis and to move to their left if they chose the second hypothesis.
  • 4. each group must provide reasons for their choice to try an convince the other group to join them in their choice.
  • 5. When the groups have been "stabilised", the facilitator explains the next situation and the whole process starts again.

A facilitator of a moving discussion should

  • 1. write down 5 or 6 situations and two clear and opposing hypotheses for each of the situations for the group to choose from.
  • 2. introduce the situations as clearly and concisely as possible.
  • 3. ensure that the discussion doesn't turn into a squabble and allow that there is a balanced explanation of reasons.
  • 4. move on to the next situation once the groups have been "stabilised".

An example of a moving discussion during a training course

Situation 1
The councillor suggests creating a body of participation and consultation with the population in your town for environmental issues. The construction of a wind farm seems a good topic for him, plus it is a topic of today!
He comes up with a budget (not huge but sufficient) to create this participation body. You have several weeks to organise a first session (this leaves you time to organise it without too much of a hurry).

  • You agree to the idea without hesitation, a great idea! At last you will be able to create the participation body you had been dreaming of
  • You have some doubts as to whether it is a good idea and the right time to do it

Situation 2
After taking up the idea suggested by the local councillor, you announce the first participatory meeting wide and large. However, you are not that enthusiastic. Normally, around 10-15 people go to these meetings, 30 at the most…
You are nicely surprised when, on the evening of the meeting, you see more than 100 people arriving. You have to quickly go and find extra chairs, but there is room for everyone.
The meeting facilitator is a little overwhelmed.

  • You forget about going around the table, since there are far too many people there…We will decide how to collect the participant's information later on
  • You go around the table, "adapting" the round slightly because you don't want to eat up too much time from the agenda

Situation 3
Despite the number of people there and the exchanges, you manage to draft fairly complete minutes of the meeting. Then you distribute them to the people who left their contact information at the meeting.
Others who were not able to be at the meeting ask you for a copy of the minutes.

  • You send them a copy for their information
  • You send them a copy and invite them to make contributions and comments

Situation 4
After some sessions, the group becomes considerably smaller: at least a third of those who registered no longer reacts to the emails and does not go to the meetings. You try re-launching the meetings by email asking people to become involved but without much success.
  • After two more emails without reply, you decide to stop sending the minutes "for nothing" to those who have not replied to your last 5 emails
  • You say to yourself that there's no harm in sending it to all, and keep all of them on your mailing list

Situation 5
Facilitation takes time. Your local councillor is satisfied with your work but asks you to participate in a call to contributions to raise some money. This would be a nice contribution to the communal budget and would allow your post as the network facilitator to continue a little longer.
  • You find several funding possibilities here and there, some of which are in line with the network's dynamics. You start preparing all the required documentation…you need the money!
  • You fear changing the group's dynamic. You ask your local councillor for time to consider other funding options.

Situation 6
The network has gradually created a structure. With not much it has achieved quite a lot. These achievements make you proud and have contributed to making you visible in the region. But then all of a sudden you hear that some network members who are also members of other close networks are telling of your network's achievements.
  • You are not very pleased with this situation and decide to tackle the issue frankly at the next meeting
  • You are pleased with this and hope this exchange will also happen in the opposite sense

Situation 7
Your councillor is generous. He has decided to give you a grant for a communications tool that is ready to use and is ideal for managing the network. It has it all; it is the latest on the market! This will allow you to centralise your data and make the network more "professional".
  • Great, at last the tool is complete! This will considerably change the working habits and could bring those who are less technologically aware onboard. What a great step forwards for the organisation!
  • You thank the councillor for the grant. You promise to take a look at it all and to discuss it with the network to decide whether it is adopted (or not)