Exploring what happens in a JOURNEY Making gathering : using group communication software to support brainstorm-type activities
Brainstorming is a technique widely used in organisations to help groups of people share their knowledge of an issue. This research explores what happens during JOURNEY Making gatherings, which are similar to electronic brainstorms. It explores the reaction of participants' to the gatherings and builds a rich picture of how the process of facilitation might be enhanced for participants. The thesis reflects on the development of a new format of gathering which aims to enable participants to consider a wider range of issues when decision making, by breaking bounded vision and encouraging an explosion of views. It gives participants incubation with the problem before stimulating them to consider aspects which they may have previously forgotten about. This technique has been used nine times during four workshops with real-world organisations. This thesis reports on the exploration of five sources of data to enable an Integrative Evaluation of how participants work in gatherings, inclu ding computer logs of the participants' ideas and interviews with participants. Findings indicate that this thesis can make contributions to knowledge on three levels. Firstly, the thesis has implications for practice. Facilitators might benefit from knowing that alternative forms of gathering exist and that findings suggest that participants benefit from them. For example, participants working in the proposed format were found to explore, on average, a wider range of themes in the problem than participants of other gathering formats, and might be able to share more contributions to that diverse range. Also participants have difficulty in accurately identifying causal links in the group map. Secondly, this thesis makes contributions to academic knowledge. For example, the thesis develops innovative techniques for analysing participants' contributions and causal links. Finally, this thesis contributes to future research directions by suggesting six areas for future research into JOURNEY Making and Group Decision Support.