I recently heard from fellow facilitator, Jimbo Clark, who is again conducting face-to-face meetings in Taiwan using Feedback Frames to recognize group priorities and agreements (see photo above). Most of us are probably not in a place like Taiwan, which has reduced COVID-19 cases to nearly zero. But if you are in a community with active indoor restaurants and shopping, and schools and libraries are open, then you are probably ready to use Feedback Frames, with some precautions.
(If you are still stuck doing only online workshops, I recommend GroupMap.com as a user friendly idea rating tool for virtual meetings.)
The Basics: Wear a Mask. Clean Your Hands. Keep a Safe Distance.
Ensure all participants follow standard virus precautions. Providing masks, convenient hand sanitizer, and physical distancing posters can make this easier. The facilitation team will need to be a good example by following best practices and providing friendly reminders when needed.
Provide Individualized Portions of Tokens
Pre-pour tokens into small cups or bags, one for each participant. This is more sanitary than shared bowls, and if you set them spaced apart, participants will not need to bunch or line up to get their portion.
Space Out Frames
If possible, book a large space for your session and use many tables so that participants can each be at a Feedback Frame while maintaining physical distance from others.
Stagger Turn Taking
If space is tight, limit the number of participants dropping tokens at any one time. You might plan multiple parallel activities so that sub-groups can take turns and rotate through different activity stations around a room, with token dropping being one of them. Alternatively schedule different times for sub-groups to arrive and drop tokens.
Avoid Sharing Pens
Depending on your scenario, you might ask participants to bring their own pen, and/or provide new/clean individual pens for each participant. You might let participants keep them, or ask them to put them in a “used” box when they are done, which can then be set aside for three days or more, allowing any potential virus to die.*
Consider Sanitizing / Set Aside for Three Days
Experts recommend cleaning frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and electronics. In comparison, while many people may drop-tokens in a Feedback Frame, the touching of surfaces is very limited. Rather they are placing a token on the surface, and letting it fall.
Even though the risk from getting COVID-19 from a Feedback Frames surface is very low, it may be reassuring for participants to know that you wipe the token dropping surfaces between back-to-back sessions, or set them aside untouched for three days after a session (the current science says COVID-19 can survive on plastic surfaces up to 2-3 days, and cardboard only 24 hours).
Tokens are generally only touched by one participant per a session, and thus would not be considered “frequently touched.” That said, washing and drying tokens is theoretically possible, although you would need to spread them out on a large towel to dry thoroughly – wet tokens tend to stick and not fall reliably. Alternatively, you can set a batch of used tokens aside for three days to let any potential virus die, before using them again. You would also do the same for the cups or bags used by participants to hold tokens.
Provide a No-Touch Option (Using Paper Forms)
For any participants not comfortable using the tokens, you could provide paper forms on a clipboard where they could write their rating for each idea. They would need to note the frame ID (at the bottom right of each frame), their rating, and any optional comments. The facilitator or assistant could then drop the tokens on their behalf.
Please follow advice provided by your local health authority for staying safe.
If you have thoughts to share about using Feedback Frames during COVID-19, please let me know.