Today I heard that a Big Talk has taken place in Japan. I felt great pride that this method I devised 30 years ago has now spread right around the world!

There are very few innovations in qualitative method that survive the test of time, but Big Talk has beaten the odds to become an established technique, whether it’s called Big Talk or Large Workshop or Creative Workshop.

The idea was simply that it was possible to engage, probe, do psychological exercises, reflect and create with a large group, not just a small one (usually 8 or less), without losing depth or focus.

And so it has proved. Flat beds on long-haul flights began in a Big Talk, as did BT’s ‘Good to Talk’ campaign. There are too many other innovations or developments to name.

The technique has expanded to online communities, where people have a sustained engagement going much beyond a couple of days.

What is interesting about all these methods is that it is typical that 15-20% of the participants make 80% of the contributions. So the skilful moderator/facilitator must work to expand and maintain engagement. That – in my view – is the main task, rather than thinking up ‘brilliant’ questions or activities!

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