Transition Culture

An Evolving Exploration into the Head, Heart and Hands of Energy Descent

Transition Culture has moved

After eight years of frenzied blogging at this site, Transition Culture has moved to its new home. Do come and join us, but feel free to also browse this now-archived site and use the shop. Thanks for all your support, comments and input so far, and see you soon.


4 Apr 2008

12 Tools for Transition: No.11. How to Run a Fishbowl Discussion

fbUse this tool when you want to have a deep exploration of an issue. It allows an open forum while keeping a focused discussion. Use this for groups of minimum 10 – maybe 100, perhaps even more. The question is important – keep it open, non-judgemental and non-directive. Set a time limit – about 1.5 hours is usually plenty. Set up five or six chairs in the centre of the room in a circle, facing inwards towards each other. Arrange further seating around this central circle, also facing inwards. Everyone starts sitting on the outer chairs.

Start off the process with something that focuses people on the topic – an introduction, maybe a visualisation or reflective exercise. When someone from the outer circle/s has something to say they can come and take an empty chair on the inner circle and join the discussion. You may have experts whom you want to stay in the centre throughout, or to start off the discussion. The discussion starts when there are two people in the inner circle.

When all the chairs are occupied someone from the inner circle who feels complete should leave. One chair of the inner circle should be empty most of the time. Only those in the centre can speak, and they speak only to each other. They may refer to what someone said earlier, but not actually say it to them or start a dialogue outside the circle. Allow some time for feedback from everyone present at the end whether they have spoken or not.

By Sophy Banks. Taken from The Transition Handbook, available here.

Comments are now closed on this site, please visit Rob Hopkins' blog at Transition Network to read new posts and take part in discussions.

1 Comment

[…] facilitated the discussion using the “fishbowl” technique. This was ideal as it allowed a focussed discussion to take place on complex issues with […]