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Review: Feedback Frames

These days a trip to the supermarket is not the same unless you get the chance to vote for something.  Alas, not cheaper prices but typically your favourite charitable cause.  The process involves being issued plastic tokens at the checkout, proportional to the amount paid for goods, which can be deposited in buckets against a range of projects.  The premise is simple – the supermarket finances the project with the most votes.  Call it corporate social responsibility.

Feedback Frames work in a similar way – although the idea is that participants are only provided with one token per frame.  The frames are a little bit like a carboard version of the popular board game “Connect-4”.  Not super durable but low-tech and easy to set-up.  Each frame contains a series of slots and drops.  Each drop can represent an opinion (the default set-up is based on a six-point Likert scale between ‘strong agreement’ and ‘strong disagreement’).  Token coins (provided) can be inserted into the slots at the top of each drop which then fall down and accumulate in each lane to represent popularity.

The scale is customisable as it is just a printed template which can be removed and re-inserted.  In-fact, feedback frames have a library of templates and pre-made scales on their website for you to adjust, print-out and use. A big bag of blue tokens is included, other colours can be ordered online.

The drops can be concealed with a paper cover so that voters are not swayed by the popularity of a particular choice in advance of making a decision (“secret voting”).  Handily, printed instructions can be placed on this cover which is easily removed at the end of a process to reveal a final token distribution.

Moreover, each feedback frame is provided with a statement/signature sheet.  This is intended to contain the supporting idea or statement and allows participants to provide additional comments and/or signatures for each vote.

So, what is the use case?  Option appraisal springs to mind but there is such versatility that it’s conceivable you could pose quantitative consultation questions using them.  Or perhaps a method of simple voting for proposed sessions at an unconference.  To date, the most common applications have been in multi-stakeholder workshops, executive strategic planning, public consultation drop-in events, community pop-ups, agile teams, design thinking workshops and even citizen assemblies.

However, Feedback Frames is not flaw-free. The main problem is that you can only fit 24 tokens in any particular drop and the tokens are a bit small and fiddley.  It’s not easy to get the tokens out of the drops either, such as to reset the frame.  The frames to flat-pack nicely after use for multiple assembly and disassembly, although the cardboard stands may get a bit tired over time.

With a bit of adjustment, we think this could be an effective and fun addition for focus groups or meetings.  And at just over £10 a frame (minimum 8 frame) it’s not bad value, either.  If you’d rather look for yourself before trying, we’ll be using a number of the frames at tCI Connect, our annual conference, later this year.

Click here more information on Feedback Frames.

Do you have a new product or service you’d like to showcase to our members?  Drop us a line at:


☎  01767 318350


About the Author

An associate of the Institute for over 10 years, worked in local and central government as well as the European Commission. Fraser won the European award for political technologies in 2005 and is an expert in digital engagement.

Read more about Fraser

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