Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Group Facilitation Trivia

Here are a few group facilitation “trivia” questions. Answers below.

1. The term “brainstorming” refers to:

  1. Any technique used to generate ideas. It’s a generic term.
  2. An idea-generation method, found in a number of studies (as early as 1958) to be less effective than others.
  3. A procedure for generating ideas, developed in the 1940s and described in a book by Alex Osborn in 1953.
  4. All of the above.

2. What was the name of the first liquid-ink marker, and when did it become commercially available?

  1. McCready Marking Pen, patented by Richard L. McCready, 1890
  2. Flair® fiber-tip pens, invented by Yukio Horie, Tokyo Stationery Company, 1962
  3. Magic Marker®, developed by Sidney Rosenthal, 1952
  4. Pen-Brush, marketed by Ferdinand Silcox, 1936.

3. Who first explicated the role of the group facilitator (with or without using that term)?

  1. Emory Stephen Bogardus, in his 1942 pamphlet, Democracy by Discussion
  2. Norman R. F. Maier, in his 1967 journal article, Assets and Liabilities in Group Problem Solving
  3. Michael Doyle and David Straus in their 1976 book, How to Make Meetings Work
  4. Bernard Lubin and William Eddy in their 1987 book chapter, The Development of Small Group Training and Small Group Trainers

4. In the world of group facilitation, what does the acronym “NGT” stand for?

  1. Nascent Gregarious Tendency
  2. Nominal Group Technique
  3. Neo Generative Thinking
  4. Name, Gather, Test

5. When were flip charts invented, and by whom?

  1. Gee, I never thought about it. I just assumed they were always around.
  2. In the 1980s, fulfilling a practical need generated by the Total Quality Management movement.
  3. 1946 by Ron Lippitt and Lee Bradford
  4. Early 1920s by the Dennison Manufacturing Company (later merged with Avery International to form Avery Dennison Corporation)


Here are mine. Let me know if you have better ones!

  1. (d) All of the above. Alex Osborne described his brainstorming method, developed over the preceding decade, in Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Problem Solving, published by Scribner's in 1953. “Brainstorming,” like the trademarked names Jello, Kleenex, BandAid, and Xerox, has come to be used as a generic term. For details regarding choice (b), see Taylor, D. W., C. B. Berry, and C. H. Block (1958). Does group participation when using brainstorming facilitate or inhibit creative thinking. Administrative Science Quarterly 3(1), 23-47.
  2. (c) The Magic Marker was developed by Sidney Rosenthal and marketed commercially beginning in 1952. Richard L. McCready's "Marking Pen Improvements" were patented in 1890 (but I don't think they had much of an impact).
  3. (b) If you have a different answer, please let me know. My nomination is Norman R. F. Maier, who described the role of a "discussion leader" in a “cooperative problem-solving activity” in his 1967 article, "Assets and Liabilities in Group Problem Solving: The Need for an Integrative Function," published in Psychological Review, Volume 74, Number 4, Pages 239-249. His article was reprinted in the premier issue of Group Facilitation: a Research and Applications Journal.
  4. (b) One of the most widely used group facilitation techniques, Nominal Group Technique (NGT) is well documented in Delbecq A. L., VandeVen A. H., and Gustafson D. H., (1975). Group Techniques for Program Planners, Glenview, Illinois: Scott Foresman and Company.
  5. (c) For a more complete story read my blog post below on Information Technology for Groups.


  1. Re: 3. Who first explicated the role of the group facilitator (with or without using that term)?

    If you are not aware of this resource: Parnes, Sidney. A Facilitating Style of Leadership. Buffalo: Bearly Limited, 1985.

  2. Thanks. I know of Sydney Parnes, who along with Alex Osborne (developer of "brainstorming") founded the International Center for Studies in Creativity, in Buffalo, but I wasn't aware of this book.


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