Process Descriptions, Terms and Definitions

Force Field Analysis

Force Field Analysis was created by Kurt Lewin in the 1940s. Lewin originally used it in his work as a social psychologist. Today, however, it is also used in organizations, when exploring change.

The idea behind Force Field Analysis is that situations are maintained by an equilibrium between forces that drive change and others that resist change. For change to happen, the driving forces must be strengthened or the resisting forces weakened.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, April 9). Force-field analysis. Wikipedia.

Ease and Impact Grid

An ease and impact grid is a prioritising and decision-making tool that assists people to manage their time more efficiently. An organization, team or individual assesses activities or possible solutions based on how easy the task may be and the potential impact or benefits it will have.

De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

The Six Thinking Hats provide a means for groups to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way, and in doing so to think together more effectively. The method can be used for exploring different perspectives towards a complex situation or challenge. Seeing things in various ways is often a good idea in strategy formation or complex decision-making processes.

The coloured hats are used as metaphors for the various states of mind. Switching to a certain type of thinking is symbolized by wearing a coloured hat, literally or metaphorically. These six thinking hats metaphors provide a more complete and comprehensive segregation of the types of thinking than the prejudices that are inherent to the immediate thoughts of people. All these thinking hats help people to think more deeply about a certain topic.

The hats are:

  • White: logic and facts
  • Red: Feelings and emotions
  • Yellow: Opportunities and affordances
  • Black: Threats, difficulties and barriers
  • Green: Creativity
  • Blue: Process or thinking about thinking

Wikipedia contributors. (2021a, April 6). Six Thinking Hats. Wikipedia.

Bono, D. E. (1999). Six Thinking Hats (Revised and Updated ed.). Back Bay Books.

Icebreakers & Energisers

The term ‘icebreaker’ comes from ‘break the ice’, which, in turn, comes from special ships called icebreakers that are designed to break up ice in arctic regions. And just as these ships make it easier for other ships to travel, an icebreaker helps to clear the way for learning to occur by making the learners more comfortable and encouraging conversation. Specifically, an icebreaker is an activity designed to help people to get to know each other and usually involves sharing names and other background information.

Energisers are quick, fun activities to liven up a group. They are particularly useful when groups may be getting sluggish and energy is waning and motivation is decreasing. An energiser will usually involve physical activity, which, in turn, will change the state of the group quickly.

Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry (AI) was developed at Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Organisational Behaviour, starting with a 1987 article by David Cooperrider and Suresh Srivastva. They felt that the overuse of “problem solving” hampered any kind of social improvement, and what was needed were new methods of inquiry that would help generate new ideas and models for how to organize.

AI is based on the assumption that the questions we ask will tend to focus our attention in a particular direction, that organizations evolve in the direction of the questions they most persistently and passionately ask. In the mid-1980s, most methods of assessing and evaluating a situation and then proposing solutions were based on a deficiency model, predominantly asking questions such as “What are the problems?”, “What’s wrong?” or “What needs to be fixed?”. Instead of asking “What’s the problem?”, others couched the question in terms of “challenges”, which still focused on deficiency, on what needs to be fixed or solved. Appreciative Inquiry was the first serious managerial method to refocus attention on what works, the positive core, and on what people really care about. Today, these ways of approaching organisational change are common.

Cooperrider, D. L. (2008). The Appreciative Inquiry Handbook: For Leaders of Change (2nd ed.). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Wikipedia contributors. (2021a, February 15). Appreciative inquiry. Wikipedia. https://

Focused Conversation Method

reprinted with permission of ICA:UK

The book The Art of Focused Conversation: 100 Sample Conversations for the Workplace has a range of useful dialogue guides. Here’s a brief excerpt adapted for brevity (and with permission). Get the book for the full question set:


Let’s talk about this. Shall we have coffee?

Objective Questions

  • What are some of the facts about the decision you’re facing?
  • How would you describe the problem and the situation?
  • What are different aspects of the problem?

Reflective Questions

  • What are the demands and pressures you face on this?
  • What makes it so hard to decide?
  • What is it like being in this situation?

Interpretive Questions

  • What are the options?
  • What values do you want to hold in making this decision?
  • Take the first option. What are the advantages? What is the downside?
  • Take the second option. What would be the advantage?
  • What would be the disadvantage?

Decisional Questions

  • What would be the impact of this decision on your life?
  • What consequences will you need to be prepared for?
  • What will be the first steps in carrying it out?


This has been a very difficult choice to make… […]

Reprinted with permission The Art of Focused Conversation: 100 Ways to Access Wisdom in the Workplace. The Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs, ICA Associates Inc. Toronto. 1999. New Society Press, Gabriola Island.

Agile Design Sprints

A sprint is a short, time-boxed period when a team works to complete a set amount of work. For More details on Agile processes please refer to

The ToP Historical Scan (or Wall of Wonder or Journey Wall)

This method is a powerful tool to enable a group to learn from their diverse perspectives of a shared journey through time, to review the past in order to prepare for the future. It can be used for both small and large groups.

The Technology of Participation (ToP)

ToP is the facilitation approach pioneered and refined by the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) in over 50 years of experience worldwide. This is a proven system of methods and tools that can be adapted and applied to help all sorts of groups accomplish a wide variety of tasks together. The core values of the ToP approach are inclusive participation, teamwork and collaboration, individual and group creativity, ownership and action, and reflection and learning.

Technology of Participation (ToP) is an integrated set of facilitation methods and tools. Facilitators design and lead meetings that enable the members of the group to participate fully and focus solely on the quality and outcomes of their work. ToP was developed by ICA and is used by ICA and ToP facilitators around the world. ICA has been using ToP methods in its work with communities, organizations, companies and networks for over 40 years.

ICA International

Participative Horizon Scanning

“Horizon scanning is a technique for detecting early signs of potentially important developments through a systematic examination of potential threats and opportunities, with emphasis on new technology and its effects on the issue at hand. The method calls for determining what is constant, what changes and what constantly changes. It explores novel and unexpected issues as well as persistent problems and trends, including matters at the margins of current thinking that challenge past assumptions.” – OECD Knowledge Bank.