How Creative Facilitators Can Use Scaling to Measure [Yes! And Blog 165]

 How might you use scaling more creatively?

One Way to Avoid Resistance

Imagine you are a sheep. Your experience is limited to a gambol around fields but now you are in the back of a truck on a glorious autumn day, watching the world zip by at 50 miles per hour (80 KPH). As I overtake your truck on the motorway, the question I want to ask you (as a sheep) is, “On a scale of 1 – 10, where 10 is high, how surreal is this experience for you?”

That question came to mind as I was driving back from Coventry recently, partly because my mind was in that engaged / disengaged state you have when driving and partly because I had been reflecting on a workshop I had participated in the previous day, at our SFCT UK meeting.  In the workshop I asked, “What ways can we use the Solution Focus (SF) scaling tool in workshops?”

Scaling is a way to measure a variety of performance related items like motivation, confidence, understanding, progress, success, etc. Typically SF people use the 1 – 10 scale and I often use the tool with people standing in a line, from 1 – 10; I wanted to explore other ways to use it. Please see Blog 41 and Blog 124 for further explanation of SF and Scaling.

With thanks to Jenny Clarke, John Wheeler, David Shaked and James Lawley for their contributions in the workshop.


With a small group of talented people, we elicited a number of interesting ways to scale, which I share here with you. Apart from the first two (me and Cyriel Kortleven), I don’t know the source of these tools, so I apologise for the lack of attribution.

Circular Scale

In this format I have people stand in a circle where those at “1” and those at “10” stand together and the rest fill the gap. The benefit of this is that people can see and hear each other more easily. Furthermore, unlike a line, there is not a large physical separation between the two ends, a separation that tends to reinforce the “us and them” metaphor.

Understanding Scale

(Cyriel Kortleven, a creative facilitator, showed me this for scaling in training.)you  After you have explained the training topic, mark a scale on the floor to represent 1 to 10.

  • Explain the reason for using the exercise.
  • Ask the group to stand at the “1” end of the scale and you stand at the “10” end.
  • Ask people to move to a number that reflects their understanding of the topic.
  • If all are at 10, there is no issue. If people stand further down the scale, have them ask you questions to clarify the topic and provide an answer to them (or have someone near to 10 give the answer).
  • With more explanation, people should move up the scale. If someone hangs back, ask, “What information do you need to move up?”

Hand Scale

Have people raise their hands so that floor height is “1” and above head height is “10”. You might do this in a circle.

Instant Scaling

If you use line ups, a risk is that people follow a dominant person, e.g. a manager. Instead, have them:

  1. Write their rating on a sheet privately and all display them at the same time, like ice skating judges
  2. Write their rating on a Post-it Note, have them put note on wall and sort them
  3. Rate using their fingers; each person holds up the appropriate number of fingers at the same time (like “rock, paper, scissors”).

Multilevel Scale

Have people:

  1. Stand on stairs
  2. Stand up and down a raked stage.

Metaphorical Scale

Make the scaling metaphorical e.g.:

  1. Learner driver to Formula 1 champion
  2. Stormy to sunny
  3. London to Edinburgh or any other journey
  4. The foothills to the mountain top.
  5. Scale 1 – 12 and use a clock face

Temporal Scale

Scale over time, e.g. from now until 2020 (e.g. “When might we achieve this by?”)

Wheel Scale

Imagine a number of spokes that radiate from a central hub. Each spoke represents the scale (e.g. for a rugby team like the Saracens, you might have four spokes that represent their values: Work-rate, Honesty, Discipline and Humility).

Ways to do this are:

  1. Draw the central hub with the spokes radiating from it on to a large sheet of paper. Have people write their initials or use Post-it Notes to rate along the spoke
  2. Use a coat stand as the hub; run strings from the coat stand to the walls and have people hang a sheet of paper with their rating on it using a clothes peg

Spatial Scale

What if there were no ratings?  Ask the group to stand in a space in the room relative to a fixed point, (e.g. the “point” might be a picture of the “ideal future” or a person)

  • “What does the distance mean?”
  • “What does your relative position to other people mean?”
  • “What might move you nearer to the picture / other people?”

I trust that this variety of ways to scale gives you food for thought. Use your imagination to extend it and please let me know other ideas you might have!


If you tend to use the same scaling tool, try one of the suggestions here as a small step to add variety.

To Close

I would like to think the sheep on that truck were on their way to another farm to graze another field. Even more, I would love to think that they were on the sheep equivalent of a coach trip; twice a year the farmer loads them up and takes them on an excursion to the seaside for a sheep dip, a scenic tour of their ancestral home on the Isle of Sheepey, or perhaps for a spin in his Lamborghini.

Have a pun free week.

John Brooker I Yes! And. Think Innovatively.
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About the Author

John Brooker is a former Senior Vice President and innovator in Visa and is now the MD of Yes! And, where he has worked internationally with multicultural teams since 2001. John has developed his Inn8® Approach to help teams maximise opportunities innovatively. You can listen to clients discuss these approaches at our website, John also has written a book, Innovate to Learn, Don’t Learn to Innovate, available onAmazon now: “Innovate to Learn, Don’t Learn to Innovate.”
John is an Open University MBA and tutored on the Creativity, Innovation and Change course for 14 years. He is President of the international Association for Solution Focus In Organisations.