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Fling out the Flipchart? – Is "brainstorming" becoming an over-used consultation technique?

Picture the setting!

A motley collection of worthies, no doubt intended to be representative but more likely to be wonderfully atypical and idiosyncratic – are gathered together and earnestly apply themselves to answering the questions posed in the consultation exercise ….! Out comes the faithful flipchart. Let’s brainstorm, says the facilitator….and off we go.

Of course, not all consultations are like this. Many rely upon more structured dialogue methods, but there clearly is a role for less formalised thinking-out-loud opinion-gathering from time to time. It’s a great way to pick up the gut feelings of stakeholders; to generate new ideas and to make connections between one person’s contribution and the others in a group. This is why it is such a favourite of the training course tutor. Faced with a choice of putting the answers to a question on a slide or inviting the audience to suggest the answers, the latter technique wins hands-down; it makes for a far more satisfying and successful learning experience.

 

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About the Author

Rhion Jones is considered a leading authority on Public Engagement and Consultation. A founding Director of the Consultation Institute, he is co-author of “The Art of Consultation” (2009) and “The Politics of Consultation” (2018). He has delivered over 500 training courses and Masterclasses and is a prolific writer on the subject, having written over 350 different Topic papers and over 50 full Briefing Papers for the Institute. Since 2003 over 15,000 person-days of training based on courses he invented have been delivered. Rhion is in demand as an entertaining Keynote Speaker and Special Adviser, particularly on the Law of Consultation, and its implications for Government and other Public Bodies. In 2017, he was awarded the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

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