IAF Methods Database Newsletter

Dear Colleagues,
Welcome to the August IAF-Methods Database Newsletter! This month’s method is a way of conducting a decision-making process by systematically adding members (and thus perspectives) to the group (or subgroups to the whole body) to build a rich dialogue. I hope it’s helpful (and fun) for your participants!

The IAF Methods Database is looking for Associate Editors!

Help needed ranges from proofreading to adding new methods, assessing existing methods and working with online researchers. If you think you would like to contribute some time to the IAFMD, let us know and we can work together to create your role. You’ll learn a lot, meet nice people and have something special to add to your CV.

Method of the Month

Stepladder Technique


Facilitation and structuring of decision making in groups in order to improve their effectiveness and the quality of the decision.


The facilitator should be familiar with the method and the problem that the group needs to solve. Advance knowledge about the group can also be helpful. The group should have an ideal size of four people. If it exceeds this number, it can be divided up into several teams of four who are concerned with different parts of the problem.


The process consists of three steps:

Step 1 Divide the team of four into a core team of two people who start discussing the problem at hand. After 10-15 minutes (depending on the complexity of the problem) the group continues with:

Step 2 The third team member joins the core team by presenting his/her ideas regarding the problem. The core team listens and after the presentation, the three participants discuss the problem among themselves. The same procedure is carried out in:

Step 3 when the fourth team member joins. He/she joins in, presents his/her perspective on the problem and the group discusses. Now when all members have joined in, the whole team discusses the problem in order to reach a solution together.

The benefits of this technique are that each member is given enough time to think about the problem and the opportunity to speak his/her mind. By hearing everyone’s point and giving it attention in the discussion, the group has the opportunity to arrive at a shared conclusion.

During this past month, I have taken a bit of a holiday and you may have noted that June's survey did not change in July. You can find a new poll if you go to the website today! I hope you like it!