Unconference Methods: Spectrogram

The Spectorgram is fun opinion surfacing method that I learned from attending Penguin Day lead by Allen Gunn director of Aspiration.

The spectrogram is a way to surface opinions in a group and spark dialogue on critical issues. The goal of this is to support sharing of a range of point of views to understand where people are coming from.
It is a fun and interactive process that I first saw used at an event called Penguin Day. You as the leader think of somewhat ‘controversial statement’ that you know people will have opinions about. This should not be something everyone agrees or disagrees with but something with some friendly contention in the community. There is a masking tape spectrogram on the floor with a middle marked. One end will be for ‘agree’ the other end for ‘disagree./; The middle is neutral or don’t know. Read the question out and invite the community spread itself out physically along the line. Then you will go around and interview people about why they are standing where they are on the line. You can do in a room with a working sound system and microphones room or just with a ‘pretend’ microphone. You can both select people at random or go to those who are really passionate about where they are standing. Interview people across the whole spectrum and don’t play favorites – this is not about your opinion it is about letting the group reflect.
This is a good exercise todo at the opening of a day or after lunch. It gets everyone moving and engaged.
How to find the right kind of statement. There are always a range of opinions in a community – This works best if you don’t pick most contentious ones that people violently disagree (other forms of dialogue are likely better to deal with highly contentious issues). It should be Y somewhat ‘controversial statement’ that you know people will have opinions about.
An examples from the Penguin Day (focused on Open Source in the nonprofit sector)
“Nonprofits should only use open source software”
You can either think of these ideas yourself or invite others to come up with ideas about what to do.
Introducing the exercise:
You can introduce this exercise by getting two people to play along with you when you ask a question like the weather here is great here. So if it is raining for example – one person goes to the agree side and says – “i just love the rain because it makes the air so clean. one goes to the disagree side and says “I cant stand the rain – it makes my socks wet” This simple exercise helps orient everyone to how it works.

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