Strategic Planning With Large Groups Using Poll Everywhere

Jan 3, 2013

Collaborative Technology Program Coordinator Jason Gershowitz writes about RESOLVE’s successes using Poll Everywhere technology to get meaningful input from 400 participants in a strategic planning process. His original blog post can be found here.


Strategic Planning With Large Groups Using Poll Everywhere
The Neighbor Dialogue: Engaging 400 Participants in a Meaningful Way for Strategic Planning

How do nearly 400 participants meaningfully contribute to one strategic plan? Not all participants are decision makers, so how can decision makers effectively leverage the experience and ideas of a large group?

Sure, there are a variety of tools that come to mind: individual interviews, surveys, small group discussions, voting, etc. Participation, however, is most valuable when: 1) participants feel their contributions have been heard; and 2) participant contributions actually inform the decision makers. Many established tools don’t always do this.

As RESOLVE’s Collaborative Technology Program Coordinator, it is my job to identify opportunities to enhance decision-making processes using collaborative technology. We don’t come at situations with a one-tool-fits-all approach, but rather a one-approach-fits-all “tool.” Technology is designed for general interactions, and we specialize in evaluating an interaction to select and tailor a technology and engagement process for a specific outcome.

In a 400-participant town hall-style strategic planning process, we tailored Poll Everywhere (PE) to create a Neighbor Dialogue™ – gathering feedback from the large group, providing a space for discussion, and prioritizing that feedback for decision makers. PE allowed each participant to share their sense of the biggest organizational strengths.

  • Using a pre-designed process and Poll Everywhere’s easy “export to word cloud” feature we shared the feedback with the group visually while we crunched statistics.
  • As our facilitation team explained the word cloud results and participants digested the feedback from their fellow respondents, we prepared the next poll, which included the ten most commonly mentioned strengths from the previous poll. Participants used the second poll to select their top strength from the list.
  • Through this iterative method, we were able to identify the large group’s vision of their organization’s top three strengths and then use this input to drive the facilitated discussion forward.

The meeting was very successful, identifying focus areas for subsequent discussions and generating buy-in from the larger community in the strategic planning process. Poll Everywhere enabled our team to collect feedback from 400 people, funnel feedback into priorities, and gather specific ideas about those priorities, while compressing the process into a two-hour high-energy meeting. These participants moved from “being informed” to “informing the process” – or taking part in meaningful engagement.

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