Think-Pair-Square-Share (TPSS) is remarkably simple and is best for groups of 9 or more. Use TPSS when you want to generate ideas or get the group’s responses, and always start with a problem or goal in the form of a question.
When teams are large, it can be difficult to gather and sort through ideas. While the number of individuals presents challenges for hearing everyone’s point of view, having the time to cull the group’s favorite ideas from a large list can also be difficult. If you’re tired of the same old approach to brainstorming and multi-voting, if you want an activity that will be welcomed by all types of thinkers, and if you want everyone to feel included, try Think-Pair-Square-Share (TPSS). Hugh Phillips, president of HP TrainingWorks, Inc., shared this in a session I attended over 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve used it with dozens of groups and found that team members enjoy the process as much as I enjoy facilitating it.
Supplies: You’ll need poster paper and markers for each sub-group, and a sheet of paper and pencil or pen for each individual.
Notice how inclusive this process is. Introverted participants or those who are purposeful, reflective, or analytical thinkers like having the time at the beginning to ideate in a quiet space. Pairing up eases people into social interaction, and the sub-group sharing bonds the small groups. Creating the composite list of the top ideas bonds the entire team in a very democratic way; at that point, the ideas belong to the group, as individuals come to identify less with their own contributions.
Give Think-Pair-Square-Share a try, and let us hear your experiences!
Stace Williams is the Founder/Principal Consultant at InterActive Dynamics, LLC. Her firm is devoted solely to one purpose: Developing Leader Excellence. Stace is a consultant, executive coach, facilitator, and instructional designer who has 3 decades of practice serving organizations on 5 continents. Motivated by her own experience as a failed leader early in her software-development career, Stace brings her passion for leadership and learning to every engagement. You can find her on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/pub/
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