One of the biggest challenges that faces any group of people working together on a piece of media is working out how to go about making decisions together as a group. It is a common experience for groups that start out with the good intention of working collectively to either get bogged down in indecision or splintering into opposing factions in the earliest stages of the production process. Often, simply deciding what topic a group is going to make media about can be the most difficult part. Moving Ahead Together | Collective Topic Selection is a series of ten steps designed to help move a group through a decision process in a way that:

  1. Allows each member of the group to maximise their contribution to shaping the project’s outcome.
  2. Allows each idea to get a fair chance at being realised as a media production.
  3. Encourages critical evaluation of all suggestions in a way that is respectful, constructive, and democratic.
  4. Builds trust, unity, and “buy-in” among the crew before moving into the production process.

In the course of the ten steps in this process, a number of techniques for generating, evaluating, and deciding upon ideas will be featured. In this module they’re used to help in the difficult task of choosing a topic to take on, but these educational techniques can be adapted for any number of other situations in which people want to make collective decisions rather than putting one or a few people in charge of decision-making and having everyone else simply follow instructions. The process is organised into 10 Steps which are outlined in the links below.

Note:

This process is written with a particular type of group in mind, one with a facilitator (or educator, or “leader”), or team of facilitators whose role is to help the group move smoothly through the process, but who do not necessarily participate in the production process themselves. In this case, the facilitator might suggest, clarify, draw attention to certain ideas that are coming from the group, but given their special position of power in being able to direct the flow of conversations and decisions, the facilitator should honour the group’s ownership of the project and not try and impose their own desires and opinions on the process. This is something easier said than done, and is a strong argument for having pair-facilitation wherever possible to allow facilitators someone to check-in with as a sounding board as well as to hold each other accountable to their role in the process. If your group is working without outside facilitation, you might want to consider the option of having a rotating facilitator position for defined periods of time, or swapping out facilitation duties on a meeting-to-meeting basis.

Acknowledgements:

This model was developed by Dan O’Reilly-Rowe, benefits from his collaboration with a number of educators at Global Action Project in New York City, and builds on practices common in many youth media organisations. The model was first recorded and refined as a part of the Youth Media Learning Network Fellowship , 2007-2008.

Storytelling Prompts | Finding Topics to Explore

Morgan Sully, 2010.  Coming up with a worthy topic for a story can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be.  Here’s a few prompts to get you started. Participants Can work for small or large groups.  Not much technology is needed for this activity. Skills/Technique This...