Akkademia di Psicopolis

Large Group Interventions


This page informs you about 'Large Group Interventions'. A Large Group Intervention (LGI) is a name for a broad range of methods that can be used to facilitate and manage organizational change. Characteristic for LGI is that the whole organization (or a representation of the organization) is involved in the change process. Also it is not uncommon for a LGI that other stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, financiers, and governments participate in the process. The number of participants of a LGI can vary from 10 to 3000 participants.

General information about LGI

If you want to read more about LGI's wander around on the following pages:

  • Click here to read an article by Robert H. Rouda. This article discusses the background and theory of large scale organizational change methods. Rouda informs you about the most popular LGI's such as: Interactive Strategic Planning, Future Search, Conference Model and Open Space.

  • Click here to read a chapter by Martin Leith called 'Creating collaborative gatherings using large group interventions'. This chapter, that is part of the 'Gower Handbook of Training and Development' (edited by Anthony Landale, 1999), includes a brief description of the main LGI methods (Future Search, Real Time Strategic Change, Participative Design, Open Space Technology, and Simu Real) and describes the common principles that underpin the methods.

  • Also by Martin Leith: Leith's Guidelines to Large Group Intevention Methods. These guidelines inform you about how to use LGI methods and collective gatherings to address complex strategic issues. For more information by Martin Leith see his homepage and his page on LGI.

  • On this page you can find assembled material by Carter McNamara about LGI.

  • Click here for a critical discussion of Bunker and Alban's book about 'Large Group Interventions'.

  • On this page you can read the article 'Towards a critical perspective of large scale interventions'.

Examples of large group intervention

  1. Future Search (or Search Conferences)

  2. Open Space Technology

  3. Appreciative Inquiry

  4. Real Time Strategic Change

  5. Simu Real

  6. Participative Work Design

Future Search

uture Search is a Large Group Interventions that is developed by Marvin Weisbord and Sandra Janoff. Future Search can be described as an innovative planning conference that helps to transform the capability of organizations for cooperative action in a relatively short time. Future search is - similar to scenario conferences - especially helpful in uncertain, fast-changing situations. Because people build on what they already have, they need no prior training or expertise (http://www.change-management-toolbook.com/FS.html).
Click here for 'A conversation with Marvin Weisbord about Future Search.
For more information about Future Search, its principles, methodology, and applications see Future Search.net.
If you are interested in Future Search you can join the Future Search Network. This network is created for those who want to encourage cooperative planning anywhere in the world.

On the website of Michael Pannwitz, a consultant, you can read more about Future Search and Open Space.
Read more about Future Search? ...Click here.

Open Space

Open Space Technology is a LGI intervention developed by Harrison Owen. At the very least, Open Space is a fast, cheap, and simple way to better, more productive meetings. At a deeper level, it enables people to experience a very different quality of organization in which self-managed work groups are the norm, leadership a constantly shared phenomenon, diversity becomes a resource to be used instead of a problem to be overcome, and personal empowerment a shared experience. It is also fun. In a word, the conditions are set for fundamental organizational change, indeed that change may already have occurred. By the end, groups face an interesting choice. They can do it again, they can do it better, or they can go back to their prior mode of behavior. Open Space is appropriate in situations where a major issue must be resolved, characterized by high levels of complexity, high levels of diversity (in terms of the people involved), the presence of potential or actual conflict, and with a decision time of yesterday. (Source: http://www.globalchicago.net/ost/#anchor318036.
On the website created by Owen, 'The Practice of Peace', you can find more information about Open Space.

Next to Harrison Owen, the following people have experience with Open Space Technology: Other people experienced with Open Space:
Chris Corrigan, Peggy Holman, Michael Pannwitz, Birgitt Williams at Dalar International Consultancy and Martin Leith.

Other places on the internet where you can read and learn more about Open Space are:

To subscribe to the 'Open Space Listserve', click here.

Real Time Strategic Change

Real Time Strategic Change (RTSC) is more than a large group intervention method: it is a principle-based approach to transforming the whole organisation. RTSC begins with contracting and scoping. This is followed by a leadership alignment event which enables the formal and informal leaders of the organisation to understand the RTSC philosophy, agree purpose and outcomes for the change effort and make a commitment to moving forward together. (Source: Chapter by Martin Leighl).

Read more?

  • Managing Change with Large-Scale, Real-Time Interventions, an article by Robert H. Rouda & Mitchell E. Kusy. Click here

  • On this site you can view an outline and summary of the book 'Real Time Strategic Change', by R.W. Jabobs.

  • Click here to view some sheets about Real Time Strategic Change.

  • On this page you can find an article on Real Time Strategic Change and how it can be used for strategy implementation.

Simu Real

Simu Real is a LGI developed by Don Klein. Simu-Real enables members of an organisation to work together on a real organisational task so that they can see the whole organisation in all its complexity, become aware of, and skilled in, dealing with organisational dynamics, and determine what, if anything, needs to be changed. The method is used to help organisations explore differences, solve complex problems, redesign work processes, agree goals and develop plans for realising them. The Simu-Real event takes place in a large room which, when the participants arrive, becomes a microcosm of the organisation in action. The departments or other organisational units are located in different parts of the room according to their place in the actual organisation. This is the ‘Simu’ part of Simu-Real. The ‘Real’ part is the task or project that the organisation will undertake. The task is conceived by a planning committee, whose members are drawn from the organisational units. The committee prepares all aspects of the Simu-Real event including the room layout and the decision making process (Source: Chapter by Martin Leith).

Participative Work Design

Participative Design was developed in 1971 by Fred and Merrelyn Emery. They developed the model as a faster and more acceptable alternative to the Socio-Technical Systems approach, where a multi-functional task force redesigns the organisation, usually taking a whole year to do so. A design created in such a way tends to be flawed, because it is based on an incomplete assessment of reality. Also, workers do not have ownership of the design, and this generates resistance to change. And, perhaps most significantly, the organisation’s underlying power structure remains intact. Whereas STS is based on what the Emerys call the ‘bureaucratic design principle’, Participative Design reflects the ‘democratic design principle’. This says that (1) those who have to do the work are in the best position to design the way in which it is structured, (2) effectiveness is greatly improved when teams take responsibility for controlling their own work, and (3) the organisation increases its flexibility and responsiveness when people are capable of performing multiple functions and tasks. (Source: Chapter by Martin Leith.)

More information about Participative Work Desigh, see:

  • An article about Participative Design by Steve Cabana.

  • An article about Participative Design by Frank Heckman.

Consultancies that work with LGI:

Vaughan Consulting Group
Vaughan Consulting Group helps organizations create strategic visions supported with commitment and passion and help companies create organizational structures that are participative and self-managed. Using cutting-edge large group intervention strategies, such as search conferences and participative design workshops, Vaughan aims to create a sense of community in which employees are highly motivated to achieve a shared vision.
On this website you can also find some general information about large group interventions and an overview of some possible large group methodologies (e.g. search conferences, participative design, open space technology). Click here.

Mediated Solutions Incorporated
MSI has experience managing large group intervention disputes including poisoned work environment and government consultations. For example, in the role as mediation service provider for the Walkerton Compensation Plan, MSI has designed, convened and facilitated various multi-party interventions between employees and management to address poisoned work environments, and sexual harassment situations under the Human Rights Code. These cases involved 25 to 400 employees in private and public professional settings.

The Colosseum mission is to raise the profile and understanding of how leaders and managers can best facilitate the never ending change processes within their organisations. Their expertise is in five main areas: OD, Change management, LGI, Conflict resolution/mediation, Management development and training Colosseum works with LGI and provides some general information about it such as: the purpose of GI, their key assumptions, and their methods.

The PAR group
PAR (Participatory Research) is de naam van een interdisciplinaire groep onderzoekers die zich bezig houdt met strategische probleemoplossing en organisatieverandering. Het gaat daarbij om zogeheten 'messy problems' in organisaties. Problemen die complex zijn, en waarover binnen een (management)team duidelijk verschillen van opvatting bestaan, niet alleen over wat het probleem is, maar ook over de vraag óf er eigenlijk wel een probleem is. Verschillen van perceptie en belangentegenstelling verhinderen een organisatie vaak om een probleem goed in kaart te brengen en tot robuuste oplossingen te geraken. Beslissingen die genomen worden, kunnen dan ook vaak op weinig draagvlak rekenen. De PAR groep heeft een aantal (large group) interventiemethoden tot haar beschikking die juist in deze situaties hun nut kunnen bewijzen.