A simple and effective way to create ownership in a group

This is a practical tip for facilitators who want to pass on ownership for change to the group. Why? To strengthen responsibility and motivation for the group’s results and increase the likelihood that they’ll be implemented! And also to allow each and every participant to develop and grow through the experience of participation.

1) Who has the final word?

First things first: I think it’s very important for the person at the top of the organisation to introduce a meeting he’s invited participants to attend. He’s got to let everyone know – authentically – why he’s invited them and what he’s hoping to get out of the dialogue. And it’s also important to have him introduce me as facilitator – actively passing the baton of authority into my external hands.

However, in a participatory process, I like to delegate the final word (we’re talking about 2-3 minutes) of the meeting to one of the participants.


It shouldn’t be a competition, where participants feel they have to show how superior they are. And it shouldn’t be forced on someone through peer-pressure or co-nomination.

It should be fun. And it should be a bit exciting.
I do it according to „luck of the draw“ – somehow a mixture of random selection and a sort of intuitive self-selection („Somehow I knew I’t’d be me“).
And it should be the same procedure each time. This makes participants see it as fair. And that’ll make them agree to play the game.

You pick up the mouth? Your’s is the final word!

I do it like this:
1) everyone selects one of the cards I’ve placed on the floor before the meeting begins, one of which has a mouth printed on it, whereas all the rest show an ear.
2) Suspense.
3) The person with the mouth card is asked to own up!
4) I congratulate them and tell them we’re looking forward to hearing their final word (writing their name in the programme, so no one forgets!)
5) Right at the end, the mouth-card-holder gives the final word.

And that final word will be really really good. There’ll be a very personal note to it. And it’ll usually include a symbolic image. And the group will feel empowered.

The last word of a workshop on Tuesday was given by a participant something along these lines. I enjoyed it so much I’d like to share my recollection of it with you:

„I’ve experienced this meeting – and in fact the whole strategy process – as a hot-air balloon journey. At the beginning, we all packed ourselves and our precious and important belongings into the basket and used the great energy of the group to lift the balloon higher. But it was tough going: pushing that hot-air balloon higher was hard work and soon we started to lose height. So we all started thinking about ridding ourselves of some of the weight we were all carrying around with us. There was some discussion about what to throw out, but after a while we became more and more free and clear on what we needed to keep with us on our journey and what we could get rid of with no real lack of comfort. And I’d like to add that we never thought of resorting to throwing one of us out!
We’re moving fast now in our balloon with seemingly endless energy and I can enjoy the journey. I know exactly where we’re going. I feel safe and in good company. This journey will make a difference.“

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