Group Problem-Solving


Creative Dialogue & Design (CDD) is a group dialogue and design process which assists groups, organisations and communities in facilitating dialogue and designing ways to deal with complex and/or conflictual situations.

CDD is based on the principle, that dealing with complex and stressful situations requires exploration of the knowledge held by people familiar with that situation. I guide participants through a dialogue and design process which is flexible and is based on three distinctive stages.

  • Problem-mapping concentrates on developing greater understanding of the problems as perceived by the group’s members. 
  • Vision-mapping assists in formulating a group vision by articulating goals the group members want to reach.
  • Action-planning allows for prioritisation of projects to ensure that resources are expended where they can have the greatest effect.

The design process uses behaviourally sensitive computer assisted technology to support the recording, prioritising, structuring, displaying and reporting of the group’s work. Participants are able to follow the process visually through the display of ideas and structures on a screen and on the wall. The maps created by the group often serve as the basis for planning and policy documents or reports. Visualisation and structuring, combined with careful facilitation of group dialogue, create a safe space in which individuals may feel empowered to speak about sensitive issues and in which a respectful exchange of differing ideas and views can take place.

Triggering Question

Screenshot of the ISM Software used for CDD

Who uses Creative Dialogue and Design (CDD)?

CDD is useful for community groups, businesses, public sector committees, NGOs, education providers, and others. It has been used successfully by citizen groups involved in peace processes, by Native American Tribes for developing economic plans, and by multicultural working groups for engagement and project planning. It has also been used extensively in the corporate sector as a tool for product design, strategic planning, change management and organisational development. 

What are the foundations of CDD?

CDD makes use of a facilitation and design process called Interactive Management (IM). It is based on research into the theory of complex social systems and the work of Prof. John N. Warfield of George Mason University. Originally used as a tool for organisational planning and organisational change, the use of Interactive Management as a dialogue and design process for conflict transformation and peacebuilding was pioneered by Prof. Benjamin Broome of Arizona State University. IM is one of the most thoroughly researched and tested facilitation methods.

How does CDD work?

During problem-mapping and vision-mapping the group members contribute ideas which are entered into a computer software and posted on the wall. These ideas are then clarified in a dialogue process. The most important ideas are selected, categorised and then structured so that the group can build a visual influence map which helps to identify the root causes and effects of problems and core elements of a positive vision for the future. The maps can be incorporated in project reports and vision-statements. In the action-planning stage group members then design projects to address core problem- and vision-elements.

What are the requirements for a CDD session?

Typically CDD is useful for groups ranging from 3 to 20 people. For larger groups it may be necessary to break the groups into smaller sub-groups and to conduct separate CDD processes with the option of comparing results at the end. Problem-mapping or vision-mapping processes can be conducted during an intensive two-day workshop or as part of an ongoing dialogue over a number of weeks or months depending on availability of participants. The action-planning stage takes 4-6 hours. Depending on the needs of a particular group facilitation can include only the problem-mapping or vision-mapping stage or any combination of stages. 

Contact me for more information and an individual consultation on how CDD can help you and your organisation.


Problem-map developed by the participants

© Serge Loode 2015