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The Purpose of our Bookends Method: Effective facilitators shy away from working lists in a linear fashion. The purpose of using our Bookends Method is to develop a natural habit of squeezing the grey matter towards the middle, rather than wasting too much time on it.

The rationale of our Bookends Method

Groups tend to argue about grey matter that frequently does not affect the decision anyway.  For instance, with PowerBalls, you can envision some participants arguing whether something is more important than moderate yet less important than high.  We know from experience that high criteria drives most decisions, so bookends help us identify the most important stuff quickly.

The Bookends Method 

After you have compiled a list, compare and contrast different items with the simple process as explained below:

Apply our Bookends Method to Avoid Wasting Time

Use the Bookends Method to Avoid Wasting Time with Lists

  • Ask, “Which of these is the most important?” (as defined by the PowerBalls displayed).
  • Next ask, “Which of these is the least important?” 
  • Then return to the next most important
  • And to the next least important

Until the list has been squeezed into the remaining one-third that is moderate.

If comparing or contrasting illustrations, consider asking…

  • Which is most similar?
  • Which is least similar?

Repeat until one-third remain as moderate.

For discussions consider asking . . .

  • What is your greatest strength?
  • What is your greatest weakness?

Repeat until one-third remain as moderate.

Five-Level Numeric Alternative (plus Null) Where More is Better

  1. Low Importance
  2. Moderately Low Importance (if necessary)
  3. Moderate Importance
  4. Moderately High Importance (if necessary)
  5. High Importance

Ø.  NULL or Will NOT have


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Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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