Converging discussions in SODM

Written on:April 20, 2014
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One of the questions Miguel raised in Incoma was “How can we help debates to converge to thoughts instead of ramifying it forever?”

Convergence of ideas is one of the main chalanges in deliberation. While asking questions and discussing the possible solutions is very natural, concluding which solutions are most valid and which give us the best solutions is much harder.

One of the most helpful solution to conergence, that I found, was given in Kaner et al “Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making” . Kaner suggestes that deliberative discussion should be composed of three phases. A question pahse, a groan phase, and a convergence phase. Every discusion should start with a question, on how to solve a specific issue. In the questions-phase, participents should ask questions and try to answer them. In this phase the discussion disperse and cause the discussion to diffus, yet it also elevate the overall level of mutual understanding of the subject in hand. This phase is usualy very intresting at the beggining, but as the discussion progreses, people will have troble following the debate. Also, the number of open questions will be too great to even try to solve. This will cause people to groan. When groaing it usualy a sign for the moderator “We had enough”. This is the time, when the moderator, should close the session and move to the groan zone.



The groan zone, or as I perfeer to call it “The coffee breake” is very important, because it let people the space and time to consolidate their thoughts, and speak freely with the right people to solve their question. After the break, when people rest and eat enough it is the time to to go to the hard work: to converge their ideas into an agreed solution.

In face to face (FtF) meetings, it is very difficult to converge. Every solution has to be examined separately, giving it the appropriate time to introduction, clarifications criticism and suggestion for adjustments. Thus, convergence phase in FtF is very cumbersome.

This is where SODM platforms like Ekkli and Income can be very helpful. In the following section I will suggest some scenarios to converge ideas on SODM.

First of all, different solutions can be worked-on simultaneously and individually. The visualization of such simu-indiv can be as follows:

We can set a question and a goal of the question in the following manner. Put in the left side, the question, while the goal of the question should be set in the right side. The different answers can be added as “routs” or Course of action (CoA) toward the goal.

SODM; convergence 1

After synthesising (some chat about best solution), it is time to evalute the most coroborated and most agrred solutions. To evalute we can use the next settings:

The field of the question-goal could be filled with infinite answers. When we want to evaluate an answer, we can select it. When this answer is selcted, all other unselected answers should be changed to transparent.

SODM; convergence 22

When the users will press the answer, they will enter into a more subtle evaluation. Inside the answer, users could mark if they agree or disagree, and of course could comment and discuss. The overall agreement should be marked by the colors of the different reasons to select this answer. After the users will finish their evaluation, they can go up a level, by pressing the OK button.

SODM; convergence 3

In this fashion, all solutions can be evaluated asynchronically, and an overall picture of the different solutions can be visible. The different solutions will be marked as green for good ideas, yellow for neutral ideas and red for bad ideas. Their level of opacity will indicate their level of truthiness. For the final selection of the solution, users can select the most good and true solutions, and select from them the best solution.

SODM; convergence 4

What do you think about it? can you suggest other solutions or improve this solution?


Kaner, S., Lind, L., Toldi, C., Fisk, S., & Berger, D. (2007). Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making (2nd ed., p. 363). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved from Kaner 2007.pdf

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