Some of the most useful work in creating organisations like development trusts is done in small groups with as facilitator - not in committee meetings. Workshops are appropriate, for example, to brainstorm and prioritise project ideas, and to work through basic values and principles for a trust.

Workshops in the start up process

During the start up process you might consider:

If in each instance these workshops are run with a particular interest group it is possible to see the different pictures of the future emerging - and where these visions do or do not overlap.

The workshops will both provide valuable material for a vision and draft business plan, and also identify people who may become committed members of a steering group.

When the different interest groups do come together, perhaps in a seminar, they will all have some common framework for discussion, even if they disagree on priorities.

Running workshops

Charles Ritchie of the Community Operation Research Unit provides these general guidelines for running workshop sessions.

  1. Outline, explain and get agreement on what is going to happen in the session
  2. Stick to agreed timetable - keep an eye on the clock
  3. If you intend to use flipcharts or hand out material, check on literacy. Working in pairs or small groups can help to overcome these problems.
  4. Check for colour blindness
  5. Have space to display flipcharts
  6. Have space to let groups work separately
  7. Have a flip chart stand or flat walls to allow flipcharts to be written on
  8. Always have a range of coloured pens, blu-tack, post-its, flipchart paper, coloured stickers/stars
  9. Post-its can be very useful to allow ideas to be moved around or clustered on a flipchart/wall ... or even to be thrown away
  10. Write clearly - check everyone can see/read
  11. Encourage others to write on the flipcharts - but don't force them
  12. Talk loud enough - check everyone can hear
  13. Encourage work in small group (3-5), even if there is a lot of talking and input in the whole group sessions
  14. Listen to what people are saying - in groups and in plenary
  15. Check out understanding before writing on flipcharts
  16. Be happy to make mistakes and admit them
  17. Don't establish yourself as the expert
  18. Ask naive questions

Look out for the possibilities for short role plays (using objects) to explore statements or situations

© David Wilcox Tel +44 (0)1273 677377. Fax: +44 (0)1273 677379. These information sheets may be freely distributed with this attribution, but not republished as a whole.
Partnerships Online : The Guide to Development Trusts and Partnerships: other sheets