Discovery and Action Dialogue

Duration: 1-2 hours
Difficulty Level: Hard
Group Size: < 20
Level of interaction: High
Multilanguage fit: No
Preparation Time: Medium
Purpose: Information Exchange, Knowledge Construction
Type of Online Events: Hackaton, Webinar, Workshop

Spark, and unleash local solutions to chronic problems

Discovery and Action Dialogue is a method that enables participants to autonomously find new approaches to performing their work routines. This method offers participants access to a new thinking process and equips them with practical problem-solving skills to open up to positive change. Participants work in groups to explore a shared chronic problem or challenge encountered in their daily work and jointly create potential solutions by following a conversational structure under the facilitator’s guidance.

Use this method to:

  • Generate ownership among people doing the work, avoiding someone else’s best practices and strategies.
  • Discover tacit and latent behaviours that are positively divergent.
  • Generate changes that are sustained because they are developed by the people doing the work.
  • Solve local problems locally and globally and transmit momentum across units.
  • Use in a one-on-one conversation about how to approach a challenge.

Steps to apply this method:


  1. Define the purpose of the learning activity and the main topic for the online session.
  2. Identify the problem that participants share and that needs to be discussed during the session. For example, strategies used to improve gender balance in decision making.
  3. Define the number of participants for your session and their characteristics. The more diverse in roles and experience the better.
    • Plan a warming-up activity. For instance, if appropriate, you can use introductions or an anecdote.
  4. Identify an external person who can support you in taking notes during the session.
  5. Define the tool that you will use and familiarize yourself with its functionalities.
    • Design and prepare the online space for participants to join the session.


  1. Brief the participants about the topic to be discussed, and explain the purpose of the learning activity and of the two roles. 
    • The facilitator structures the conversational session. 
    • The note taker silently records key insights and action ideas in writing.
    • Cameras and microphones are enabled for the facilitator, and the participants, and disabled for the note-taker.
  2. Start the learning activity by asking an opening question to the participants. Invite them to contribute by sharing stories from their own context and experience and “sift” for action opportunities. For example, an opening question could be: What can you possibly do to let a gender mainstreaming strategy fail?
    • Allow participants to share their stories until no one has anything else to add.
  3. Continue asking the following questions, one by one.
    • How do you know when [the problem] is present?
    • How do you contribute effectively to [solving the problem]?
    • What prevents you from doing this or taking these actions all the time?
    • Is there anyone you know who is able to frequently [solve the problem, overcome barriers]?
    • Do you have any ideas?
    • What needs to be done to make it happen? Any volunteers?
    • Who else needs to be involved?
  4. Close the session for participants and introduce a short break.
  5. Study the key insights and action ideas noted during the session and quickly debrief with the note taker. 
  6. Open a final discussion with all participants using the notes (consider sharing your screen with the notes).

Depending on the topic, the size of the group, and the time available, the learning activity can be designed using instant messaging tools to answer the questions. Then, powerful stories/behaviours/actions can be selected and shared with the whole group.

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