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Organic methods

Organic methods are a less structured way of gathering views from people. And you can usually include more people than a focus group. On this page, you'll find different types of organic methods, and things to consider.

What are the benefits of organic methods?

Organic methods allow participants to set their agendas from within the group and take the lead on topics.

These methods can creatively involve people and help processes to evolve organically. They can work well for people who are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with formal group structures.

The World Café

World Café is a flexible format for hosting an event. It facilitates dialogue in larger groups. It's helpful as a starting point for participation, as it gives an idea of what issues need exploring in more depth.

Discussions take place in small groups around tables, set up to resemble a café. Each table focuses on a different topic or set of questions. People are free to discuss these and move to other tables during the event.

To learn more about this method, download our World Café resource or watch the video below.

Open Space

Open Space is a technique for running meetings where the participants create and manage the agenda themselves. Sessions can include 5 to 2000 people or more, as long as you have a big enough venue.

This method is ideal if you want participants to gain ownership of an issue and develop solutions. Participants agree on the areas of discussion that are important to them, and then take responsibility for facilitating the sessions.

Many discussion can take place at once, and you can prioritise items for discussion by the whole group. Open Space meetings can take place over several hours or days.

To learn more, download our OpenSpace resource.

Things to consider with organic methods

  • Do you have the time and resources you will need?
  • Are you able to get input from people who can’t access this type of setting or people who aren’t suited to their informal nature?
  • How will you analyse the findings? Remember – they may be anecdotal.
  • Are you confident that the hosting organisation has the right level of experience to manage the participants and topics without the structure of other methods?


Facilitation Plan

This tool helps ensure your activity/event runs as smoothly as possible. From how you present questions to participants to identifying what resources you will need.

With instructions | Without instructions

Managing Risks

Use this tool so that you can be five steps ahead of yourself and plan any risks that might present themselves.

With instructions | Without instructions

Other ways to get involved

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