The Incident Method

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Alternative names: 
Learn with/from your peers
Intent or purpose: 
The purpose of this method is to deal with problems together and find new approaches and solutions.
Used as component of: 
This process is used to learn with and from each other in a practice-oriented way and aimed at dealing with complex situations from different perspectives. It is used to prevent "Yes, but..." and situations alike.
Types of Participants: 
Any types of participants can be involved in this process as long as they are interesting in helping others or getting an advice themself.
Recommended size of group: 
Remarks about group size: 
The group for this method should be of a small size of about four to six people.
Optimal amount of time needed: 
Depending on the problem each will take about 30 to 60 minutes to be explored and discussed.
Usual or Expected Outcomes: 
The outcome in this process should be new or improved solutions to the problem stated and a therefore satisfied participant.
Level of participation: 
This procedure demands a higher level of participation as it requieres group work and active thinking.
Ideal Conditions: 
The place used to discuss should be a spot where the group is able to talk freely and undisturbed.
Potential Pitfalls: 
If the participant that stated his/her problem is not open for new solutions the whole process is meaningless.
How is success evaluated: 
The process is successful when the participants feel that they have got some advice or a new perspective on the discussed issue.
Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: 
There needs to be a certain level of trust between the facilitator and the participants as a problem has to be shared.
Level of Difficulty to Facilitate: 
Not set
Facilitator Personality Fit: 
The facilitator only needs to interfere in the process of the discussion does not progress as it should.
Setting and Materials: 
A chart with the procedure and time table should be arranged in order to not lose track of the time.
Resources Needed: 
There are no additional resources needed.
Pre-Work Required: 
There is no work that needs to be done beforehand.

1. One of the participants states a problem or question that he/she has.
2. Now the other participants are allowed and supposed to ask informative questions as to get a better understanding of the situation.
3. After having defined the problem the group can now analyze the problem and its aspects. Here the "problem owner" does not take part, but only listens. The contributing participants should not discuss or argue about their individual input.
4. Each participant then presents one (or more) idea(s) that he/she estimates to be a solution to the problem stated.
5. Now the "problem owner" gets the chance to criticize the different solutions or tell which one he/she considers to work.

The group can (but does not have to) do a second round in which the participants can ask additional, and more precise questions in order to narrow down the problem to its core and therefore find better solutions.

How flexible is the process?: 
The process is very flexible, as it can deal with a wide range of problems.
Follow-Up Required: 
There is no follow-up requiered.
Patrick Boel - May, 2006