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Comparison of the roles of facilitators and moderators




SDD Co-Laboratory


Enabling citizen participation in the democratic process; obtaining input on citizen views on a specific societal challenge 

Reaching consensus on a roadmap of actions to address/resolve complex societal challenges that generate conflict and disagreement 

Educational objectives


Learn to apply structured problem-solving methodologies to complex, real world challenges; better understanding of own preconceptions and weaknesses (self-trust); and, ability to respect the constraints and vulnerabilities of fellow participants (mutual trust)

Role of organiser 

Moderation and control

Facilitation only

Role of influencers 

(experts/ Officials) 

Provide inputs and influence relations

No role in dialogue process. However one or more experts may be selected to participate as equal members of the dialogue, with no ability to utilise power dynamics, as facilitator will ensure random selection of speakers during dialogue and each will be granted equal “microphone time” 

Selection of participants

Participants selected to ensure valid stakeholder representation relating to views on the subject matter 

Participants selected to ensure valid stakeholder representation across differing ethnic, socio-economic backgrounds, viewpoints, roles, etc

Timing and actions 

Physical participation in a small number of workshops convened over a period of time; 

Virtual participation over 4 weeks with 3 online sessions of 2.0 hours each and individual ‘homework’ activities


No all participants are required to participate in all events 

All participants (up to a maximum of 25) jointly collaborate in a highly structured process, irrespective of their role/position in the University 



Presentations on the topic of the workshops are delivered by experts to the assembled participants; participants can ask questions and require additional inputs and clarifications. Participants discuss issues formally and informally. Possible recommendations are drafted by teams from the organisers and the participants and one or more voting sessions are performed to reach agreement on recommendations to put forward 

A Triggering Question is prepared to focus the dialogue. Each participant contributes 2-3 responses to the TQ. They listen to and discuss the ideas of others. The list of factors produced goes through processes of Clarification, Clustering, then selection of the most important (Voting), which are subsequently “structured” in terms of how they influence each other. The result is an Influence Map (tree) on which the factors at the root are those with the greatest leverage for producing the desired change[1]. With some further processing, involving evaluation of key factors in terms of their potential impact, feasibility, etc, an institutional roadmap for change is produced 

Final Deliverable

Final report of Workshop discussions and recommendations.

Visual Co-Laboratory Report including consensual action maps, roadmaps and other plans, to which all participants are committed



[1] The ‘factors’ that the participants collectively "discover" as the most influential (ending up at the Root of the Tree) are rarely the same as those that the same participants, a few hours earlier (using any classic workshop methodology or even a previous SDD step) voted as the most important. The resulting roadmaps and action plans are not only a group (consensual) product, they are effective in addressing the root challenges and effecting change.