Large group moderation

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Large group moderation is a socio-psychological method to control large planning and decision-making groups of 50 to 200 (or even up to 1000) participants in a large meeting room ( moderation ) in such a way that they achieve realizable results in a short time, typically two to three days come. Areas of application are, for example, companies, organizations, administrations, cities and municipalities or citizen participation.


In the 1980s, organizational development knew how to deal with changes in large organizations. “Making those affected become involved” has long been known as an indispensable condition. There was a wide range of instruments to initiate and support such processes. One worked with groups of 60 to 100 executives with indirect and direct participation of employees. The implementation in larger companies made difficulties, changes took too long due to the limited number of participants or were watered down over the many levels. Large group moderation helps here. Embedded in organizational development processes, jointly supported changes can also be efficiently implemented in large companies or municipalities ( public participation ).

Working with large groups

The entire organization (or a representative cross-section of all employees) is brought into one room as a large group. They meet in order to jointly determine concrete tasks within a limited period of time and to work out results together.


Goals can be: large-scale change, rapid results, continuous improvement , finding visions, setting strategies and goals, determining values, shaping culture, collecting ideas and implementing them in programs, shaping the future - and making those affected into participants.


Core elements of the large group moderation are: Mobilize the energies of many, network abilities and skills in a profitable way ( synergy ), self-control and learning autonomy , self-responsibility , work from the bottom up ( bottom-up )

The moderator (usually a team) accompanies, supports and methodically promotes the process. An organization team takes care of the distribution of space, technology and material, food and drinks, and helps with the visualization and collection of the results.

Future conference

The future conference was developed by Marvin Weisbord and published in 1982.

Future conferences last three days and are suitable for 32 to 72 participants. The aim is to plan a common future. The focus is on finding common ground and shaping the future, which is why the future conference is also suitable for groups with competing interests or a conflicted past.

It has a fixed process: looking back at the past, analyzing external trends, evaluating the current situation in the company, developing common visions, working out commonalities and planning specific measures. Work is carried out at tables of eight in homogeneous and mixed groups (functions, hierarchical levels, also representatives of external groups) and in the plenum. Measures are only planned when agreement is reached on the desired future.

Open space

Open Space was developed by Harrison Owen in the early 1980s.

Open-space conferences last two to three days and are suitable for 70 to 1000 participants. They are very open in terms of content and form: the participants submit their own topics to the plenary and create a working group for them. Possible projects are developed here. The results are collected at the end. It is important to have a steering committee that takes care of the subsequent implementation. Open Space can produce an incredible variety of concrete measures in a short time.

The law of two feet is famous as an expression of freedom and personal responsibility: the participant only stays in a group as long as he deems it sensible; and the term bumblebees and butterflies as an expression of different levels of participation: some tend to deepen a topic and others build a bridge through frequent group changes.

RTSC conference

The RTSC (Real Time Strategic Change) conference was developed by Paul Tolchinsky and Kathleen Dannemiller.

RTSC conferences last three days and are suitable for up to 2200 participants. The aim is to initiate strategic change at all levels and in all areas at the same time. The strategic goals are already given. RTSC conferences are always integrated into organizational development processes.

The conference is organized more top-down and is prepared by a team of the planned participants. The key is the opening, where the participants are shaken up and motivated by top management. The work takes place at eight-max-mix tables, with employees who are as colorful as possible who, as representative cells (so-called fractals), overcome the organizational boundaries. This is where the strategy is checked and improved. In a night meeting, the results are coordinated with the management and on the third day the implementation is planned jointly and company-wide. Management has a huge impact on the results.

World cafe

see World-Café

Appreciative Inquiry Summit

The Appreciative Inquiry Summit (English, about: Summit for understanding questioning , abbreviated: AI Summit) was developed by David Copperrider and Diana Whitney . It is suitable for large groups (50 to approx. 2000 participants).

This method aims to replace the classic deficit-oriented logic of repair by a resource-oriented logic of growth and to stimulate a change in the organizational culture. Therefore, AI Summits are often used in the restructuring of large companies and after mergers.

The process goal is defined in the run-up to the conference. On the first day the available resources are explored, the second day is devoted to inventing (the future) and developing (new situations), on the third day implementation activities are to be developed.

Themed improvisation

Topic-oriented improvisation (TOI) is a theater method that allows viewers , actors and a moderator to work on a common topic or concern.

Inspired by improvisational theater , forum theater and psychodrama , this form of theater or large group moderation emerged at the end of the 1990s, in which specially trained actors improvise scenes on a topic relevant to the audience and work on them by the audience. The process is controlled by a moderator. The audience in particular, but also the actors and the moderator, can interrupt and change the scenes at any time. There is no fourth wall as in naturalistic theater formats or in seminar role play . At any time it is possible to question the role figures or to make their inner workings visible through theatrical representations (introspection). The close contact and the numerous interactions of the actors and the moderation with the audience create a quasi-reality that can contain many perspectives that go beyond the previous view of the audience. A work assignment to the audience to deal with alternative instructions for the identification figure creates the basis for the final theater laboratory.


See also under the articles of the respective methods.

  • Hannes Hinnen, Paul Krummenacher: Large group interventions. Schäffer-Poeschel, Stuttgart 2012.
  • Roswita Königswieser, Marion Keil (ed.): The fire of large groups. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 3-7910-3043-4 .
  • Matthias zur Bonsen: Simultaneous Change. Rapid change in large groups. In: organizational development. 4/1995, pp. 30–43, (full text)
  • Ulrich Martin Drescher : Large forms of moderation. In: Sabina Bolender (Ed.): Management trainer . Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main / New York 1998.
  • Josef W. Seifert : The moderation of large groups. In: Journal for systems thinking and decision-making in management. Editor: Falko EP Wilms, Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences, 4th year 2/2005, wvb, Berlin, full text (PDF)
  • Ruth Seliger: Introduction to Large Group Methods. Carl Auer Compact, Heidelberg 2008.
  • Peter Flume, Friederike Tilemann, Reinhold Wehner (eds.): Interactive corporate theater. Belz 2002, ISBN 3-407-36385-0 .
  • Rudolf Attems, Markus Hauser, Christoph Mandl and others: With dialogues for successful strategies. In: Harvard Business Manager. 1/2003, Hamburg 2003.
  • Peggy Holman, Tom Devane, Steven Cady: The Change Handbook. Mcgraw-Hill Professional 2007, ISBN 978-1-57675-379-8 .
  • Hermann Will, Ulrich Wünsch, Susanne Polewsky: Info , learning and change events: Book of ideas for events . Beltz-Verlag, Weinheim 2009, ISBN 978-3-407-36464-7 .