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Purpose of Olympic Scoring is to . . .

. . . extract some consensually validated new product, process, or other innovative ideas or concepts while encouraging 100 percent participation.The following is particularly appropriate when facilitating olympic scoring with larger groups of nine or more participants.

Background of Olympic Scoring

In advance, inform all of your participants to bring at least one idea or response to a prepared question. Immediately caapture them during the meeting or workshop. While focused on a central theme (eg, solution to a problem), break down your primary question into small, manageable pieces.

For example, do NOT ask what does the Marketing Plan look like? Understand that “Y” is a function of numerous large “X” and small “x” so ask solid, detailed questions such as: Who should be our target audience for _________?  What should the message for for target audience  _____________ ?

Methodology of Olympic Scoring

Build three sets of flash cards with the numbers one through ten on each set. Consider using 4in * 6in index cards. In the meeting or workshop, consciously or randomly select three class members (“experts”) who will serve as judges rather than content providers.

How to Facilitate Olympic Scoring - Innovative Ideas & Concepts

Olympic Scoring Method

After meeting participants present each idea or concept, the judges flash their scores, with more being better (ie, ten is the best). The facilitator captures the three scores and tabulates them on a large Post-It®. The highest score does not necessarily win, but discussion will be minimized, if not eliminated, around the low scoring options, thus encouraging the group to focus its discussion around the best candidates.

Deliverable from Olympic Scoring

Subsequently or concurrently the facilitator leads discussions about the reason(s) to support the higher scores and captures the reasons and rationale for their decision on large Post-Its. The reasons provide the criteria that can now be used to re-evaluate all the ideas, or to create new ideas, that optimally satisfy the appropriate criteria.

Considerations when Olympic Scoring

Consider prioritizing or weighting the criteria since some will be more important than others. Traditionally the weighting system runs from one to five where more is better. You might use the Scorecard tool to calculate detailed scores or consider using the Perceptual Map tool and arraying your options against the most important criteria.

If you have your participants prepare responses to more than one question, and have additional time, start over again. Consider appointing new judges so that all voices are viewed as equal contributors.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

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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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