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Ritual Dissent

Test and enhance proposals, stories or ideas by subjecting them to challenges or positive alternatives.

Profile image of Dave Snowden
2007 • 20 min read
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Harvesting Wisdom


Ritual dissent is a workshop technique designed to overcome taboos against publicly critiquing idea so the presenter can hear candid, useful feedback. During the workshop, the idea presenter shares his or her idea with a group that listens silently throughout the presentation; dialogue or questions allowed. Then, the presenter turns his or her back to the listeners, symbolizing having "left the room" and listens in while the group discusses either what they didn't like (ritual dissent) or what they liked (ritual assent) about the idea they heard. Large groups may break into several tables of "listeners", and presenters will then move from table to table to repeat their presentation. Between rounds, presenters are encouraged to consider the feedback they've heard so far and use it to improve their presentation in subsequent rounds.

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