In this special guest blog, Lynne Kolze shares her perceptions of using Ketso. Lynne runs Deliberate Democracy, a group that engages in civic governance and civic engagement training, consulting and coaching in Minneapolis-Saint Paul, USA.

Every now and then, you run across something that you can tell is a labour of love. I recently had the opportunity to see and experience the brilliant ‘workshop in a bag’, called ‘Ketso’. Ketso is a hands-on workshop tool that encourages participants to experience community problem-solving in a way that encourages their intellect, as well as their sense of play.

If you have experience in the world of public facilitation, community organising, process design, or collaborative decision making, you know that the skills needed to create good public process are not easy to find. As a result, group decision-making processes can fail to produce good, collaborative decisions quickly, inclusively, and consistently.

Guidelines for Engagement

Over the years, I have seen many group decision-making processes get bogged down, turn people off, leave key stakeholders out, or fail to organise ideas and decisions in a way that gets to the root causes of a problem quickly. Ketso can help to resolve these struggles by helping to get groups beyond old ways of thinking and creating, and in a way that is tactile, energising, visual and engaging.

One kit includes materials to run a workshop for up to 24 people. One can use the kit in flexible ways, combining it with your own resources and ideas. The creators of Ketso, however, advise that users adhere to a few core guidelines that they developed from decades of research in community engagement:

1) Start with defining the positives, not the problems you have.
2) Ask different kinds of questions, one at a time in sequence, to get at an issue from a variety of angles.
3) Provide people time on their own to develop their own ideas before sharing them with the group.

“I could see that Ketso would likely allow workshop participants to explore the gifts, opportunities and challenges of working as an active citizen or civic leader in their community.”

Several years ago, I was looking for something new and engaging to incorporate into the civic engagement projects I was working on in watersheds in Minnesota. I happened upon the Ketso website and could immediately see its potential for group processes. Only recently, however, have I had an opportunity to try it myself.

Contemplation, Honesty and Bonding

I have incorporated the Ketso kit into an active citizenship workshop I created for my business, Deliberate Democracy. My business exists to teach and coach people in their efforts to become active citizens and civic leaders in their jurisdiction of choice (business, government, community, non-profit), and to create civic processes that can help to renew democracy in the places where they spend their time.

I could see that Ketso would likely allow workshop participants to explore the gifts, opportunities and challenges of working as an active citizen or civic leader in their community. Not only could they think about these ideas on their own, but they could create synergies by sharing them with like-minded citizens that want to make a difference in small or more significant ways.

My hunch was correct, as I found Ketso to create: 1) a safe space for quiet contemplation, 2) time to share honest conversation and feedback, 3) a place to where people can have their say regarding the issues they care about, as well as a place to bond and find hope with other citizens who care.

Ketso is used widely around the world to help people engage effectively in discussions, decisions and in taking action. If you would like to experience the difference a Ketso kit can make for your organisation, please do contact our team or check out our website.