One of the most valuable gifts and responsibilities of facilitation is creating a visible, running record, in real time, of the contributions and decisions the group makes. Given that the average human memory can only recall around seven things at any given time, keeping a visible written record of what is said in a group is an enormous benefit to its progress.
The Scribe Competencies
- Effectively use presentation tools
- Accurately, concisely, and clearly record and organize participant inputs
Group Memory from an Integral Vantage Point
(UL) To Manage Mind Space
- Our memories can only recall around 7 things at any given time.
- Charting frees up our minds to create instead of keeping track.
(UR) To Provide Tangibility
- Provides ongoing record of group work visible to all participants.
- Later transcription serves as an ongoing record.
- Charting all decisions, actions and relevant inputs creates a tangible output and record of the intangible work that was accomplished.
- Builds a product that is created by the group—gives sense of accomplishment
(LR) To Support Process
- Help keep group on the same track
- Encourages equality of participation by recording key data offered by all group members.
- Capturing words and meaning as shared validates individual inputs and perspectives. Get permission to edit.
- Allows group to use ideas for voting, ranking, grouping and synthesis
(LL) To Develop Shared Memory
- Charting is group focused and builds “Shared Group Memory.”
- Information is opening transcribed and agreed upon by group as a whole. Approach differs from individual meetings notes often taken in meetings with selective memory and an individual focus
Risks of not maintaining group memory
- Groups can become confused, particularly during complex problem-solving work.
- Varying interpretations crop up between members.
- Resolution is difficult or poor solutions are begrudgingly agreed upon.
- Stand close; even touch flipcharts when recording group input. Keeps focus on chart and their
- Create a heading at the top of each flip chart that summarizes the agenda item.
- Number each flip chart page before moving on to the next agenda item.
- Mount completed charts on the wall using tape, pins, and clips.
- Remove charts that aren’t necessary for work to be completed to minimize confusion.
- Collect the flipcharts and have them transcribed and distributed to all members. Limit embellishments to the transcription process. The group memory is not intended to be an official meeting record but should be used as “working notes.”
Tips and Tricks
- Character size: One inch per 10 feet distance. Err toward more space, larger characters.
- To keep it level: fold bottom of chart up to line and mark.
- Line thickness: Use point for thin lines and side of marker for thick lines.
- Use colors for accenting different types of input, i.e. Idea vs. action.
- Repeat inputs to give extra time to write.
- Vary visuals: Demonstrate diagrammatic thinking: timelines, mind maps, and visual tools.
- Provide interest in flip charts by circling, swirling, or underlining titles.
- When brainstorming or listing ideas, use bullets. These bullets allow people to quickly see individual ideas. Bullets also help you number ideas once you have a comprehensive list in order to “dot vote”, prioritize, or gain agreement.