Szenen Carole Maleh

Large Group Conference Methods

Size – Speed – Effectiveness with up to 1,000 employees

What is a large group conference?

Up to several hundred people gather in one room at a large group conference. Their goal is to develop solutions to cope with an acute corporate situation.

The participants are guided through a structured work process in small groups, which ultimately results in a jointly agreed outcome. Every participant gets involved. Every vote counts. And every answer flows into the result.

Each large group conference follows a script. Every new step builds on the last and the results are merged together. The working method can vary.

change conferens

When does it make sense to hold a large group conference?

  1. Many if not all your employees must be brought along for the coming changes.
  2. Quick solutions are required because the pressure is on.
  3. Action must be taken quickly. The solutions must be realizable immediately.
  4. The impacts of the change must be readily apparent.
  5. The changes must be synchronized in all areas and across all management levels.

Then you need a frame and a structure so that:

  • Several hundred employees are able to work at the same time,
  • sound solutions can be developed quickly and
  • a binding implementation can be initiated.

In these cases, large group conferences offer the greatest benefit.

How does a large group conference work?

  • All relevant stakeholders are gathered in one room.
  • The whole group is divided into small mixed groups.
  • Each group is able to make decisions.
  • Information is provided centrally in the plenary session. This method makes it clear what should be worked on.
  • The groups then work in a goal-oriented manner on specific issues with clear instructions and a clear allocation of roles. The aim is to find solutions and answers to improve the company‚Äôs situation.
  • The results from each small group are presented in the plenary session and then condensed, and finally priorities are determined jointly.
  • These priorities then flow into the small groups for the next step.

What is the benefit of a large group conference?

Fast, high-quality and immediately realizable solutions
  • The high number of participants results in a large number of solutions – even within the short time frame of the conference.
  • Stakeholder participation and the structured work process lead to merged perspectives, which in turn gives rise to high-quality solutions and also avoids repetitive loops.
  • Since managers also take part in the conference, decisions can be made on the spot and implemented immediately after the conference.
Acceptance & sustainability of the results
  • There is a high level of acceptance of the results as well as a commitment to implementing them because employees and managers develop the solutions together.
Responsibility of employees & managers
  • Employees and managers feel equally responsible for the success of the company.

Large group conference methods in comparison

Benefits – Application – Duration

Open Space
Appreciative Inquiry
Real Time Strategic Change
Future Search


  • Immediate solutions in complex and critical situations
  • Engages lots of employees
  • Stronger corporate power
  • More positive thinking and action
  • Employees feel engaged with the management’s intended changes
  • Coordinated orientation of the organization
  • Consensus on the reorientation of the organization
  • 100% commitment
  • Removal of silo mentality


  • Sudden disruptions, production downtimes, accidents, scandals, etc.
  • Reorganization
  • Merger & post-merger integration
  • Implementation of strategy, guidelines, standards, objectives etc.
  • Boosting performance: quality, safety, customer service etc.
  • Boosting performance: quality, safety, customer service,
  • Strengthening the competitive situation
  • Cultural development
  • Strategy development
  • Reorganization
  • Process and structural adjustments
  • Merger & post-merger integration
  • Leadership development
  • Implementation of a new vision, guidelines, objectives
  • Cultural development
  • Development of goals, vision and mission statement
  • Development of a new market strategy
  • Opening of new markets

Duration & participants

  • 0.5 – 2.5 days with between 10 and 1,000 people
  • 2 hours to 2.5 days or several months with the entire organization
  • 1.5 – 2.5 days with at least 50 people
  • 16 hours spread over 2.5 days with between 40 and 72 people

The appropriate method

The following aspects are critical to choosing the right large group conference method:

  1. Precision of results: Is it a big brainstorming on one aspect of change or even on the whole change process, or are precise results needed for a variety of specific questions and issues?
  2. Openness to the result: Is the management open to any kind of result or should it provide a framework in which it is allowed to develop and decide?
  3. Narrow or broad scope of action: Is it about implementing management decisions or is there a lot of room for maneuver in shaping change?
  1. Number of participants: How many employees should attend the large group conference?
  2. Rigid or loose structure: Are the employees already accustomed to working independently and autonomously, have they even worked together in large group conferences before, or is this working method still new to you?

The large group conference method is selected together with the client and the steering team and finally a tailor-made procedure is designed for it.