a magic tool for convergence

i want to share a piece of “magic” process design… it’s probably even a quite powerful tool that i happened to create last friday in a KP lecture with Zaid Hassan (ReosPartners). Let me map it out close to the situation – and i am sure you can abstract it and see the pattern in it.

you have:

  • group of students
  • lecturer who asked what he should talk about to serve the students best
  • a lot of points that has been generated on what he could do
  • a need for convergence and agreement on this points in the room

you do:

  • “systemic voting” (heard from Ronny about it); every person has 10 dislikes and has to distribute them on all the points, max. 3 on one
  • in the break you take the 3-6 emerging winners from that voting (the ones with least dislikes) and write them on a new piece of paper/board
  • you tune into it to see a pattern in them, maybe you can merge some into the category they might be in together
  • you make sure you have 2-4 clear points and your possible merging seams reasonable
  • the group comes back and now you present the winners of the voting and how you merged them
  • either you wait for an unsatisfied comment/question or you add the additional point yourself that is called “Missing” -what is still missing from what’s up here
  • you instruct the group like this; you have 20sec to think who could speak the inquiry around this point in the best way to our lecturer – who should be the voice of our system to formulate this point out
  • on 1-2-3 you make people point on the systems-voice for this point – you count points (ask for “where does it accumulate?”) and let the person (or two with same count of pointers) speak
  • do that again for the other points
  • for the “Missing” category you grab a ball and instruct the group like this; i want to hear 3 voices of the system on what is still missing here – i will throw the ball to someone and this person passes the ball on if he/she doesn’t feel the need to speak as one of the three missing voices. if you get the ball and feel called to speak a missing voice – do so, and pass the ball on afterwards, after three have spoken, back to me.
  • thanks and hand back over to the lecturer


magic convergence in short time. systemic voting builds trust in the winner because it wasn’t voted directly for but emerged somehow.people trust the spokespersons because the whole system empowered them in a way. the serial ball-way of really letting the system work on finding it’s voices is fascinating, in my case one person who obviously was expected to speak a missing piece got the ball three times, a clear message of the system.


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Benjamin Aaron Degenhart

Currently pursuing a Masters in Computational Science and Engineering at TU Munich.

4 thoughts on “a magic tool for convergence”

  1. Yes, ok…..interesting. I like the elimination of the least as opposed to the voting of the best. It takes the personal away from it. The part of most interest to me is your statement that
    the person who was expected to have another piece of information or another idea was passed the ball three times. Do you think this was because the person had displayed what might have been called leadership skills or exceptional thought processes prior to this … or, is there some other explanation?


    1. thank you Susan! yes, my first experience with systemic voting is that it really builds commitment because the “winner” has magically emerged while focusing on something else.
      yeah, it was a fabulous phenomena that i did not foresee. i think it was because earlier in the day this person was speaking up with wishes of a change in direction and so people had in mind that he is representing “one extreme” of the opinion-landscape.


  2. It’s beautiful, thanks Benja, for sharing. And your comment adds even more value to it. Initially I also thought “Why dislikes?”. But then realized that we oftentimes know what we don’t want, and rarely can formulate what we do want. It’s sort of an art, and requires more consciousness. To know what we do want seems to be a key point to move away from industrial deconstruction to building a constructive and generative context for something new to be born.


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