25/10 Crowd Sourcing

What is made possible? You can help a large crowd generate and sort their bold ideas for action in 30 minutes or less! With 25/10 Crowd Sourcing, you can spread innovations “out and up” as everyone notices the patterns in what emerges. Though it is fun, fast, and casual, it is a serious and valid way to generate an uncensored set of bold ideas and then to tap the wisdom of the whole group to identify the top ten. Surprises are frequent!

Five Structural Elements – Min Specs

1. Structuring Invitation

  • Invite participants to think big and bold and discover the most attractive of their ideas together by asking, “If you were ten times bolder, what big idea would you recommend? What first step would you take to get started?”

2. How Space Is Arranged and Materials Needed

  • Open space without chairs or tables
  • Participants will be standing and milling about
  • Index cards, one for each participant

3. How Participation Is Distributed

  • Everyone is included and participates at the same time
  • Everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute

4. How Groups Are Configured

  • Individually to generate bold idea and first step and write on index card
  • Everyone standing to pass cards around
  • Pairs to exchange thoughts
  • Individually to score the card participants have in their hand
  • Whole group for sharing highest final scores and ideas

5. Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation

  • Explain the process. First, every participant writes on an index card his or her bold idea and first step. Then people mill around and cards are passed from person to person. “Mill and Pass only. No reading.” When the bell rings, people stop passing cards and pair up to exchange thoughts on the cards in their hands. [Another good option is to read the card with no talking]. Then participants individually rate the idea/step on their card with a score of 1 to 5 (1 for low and 5 for high) and write it on the back of the card. This is called “Read and Score.” When the bell rings, cards are passed around a second time “Mill and Pass” until the bell rings and the “Read and Score” scoring cycle repeats. This is done for a total of five scoring rounds. At the end of cycle five, participants add the five scores on the back of the last card they are holding. Finally, the ideas with the top ten scores are identified and shared with the whole group. 3 min.
  • Demonstrate one exchange-and-scoring interaction using a sample index card to clarify what is expected during the milling, namely no reading of the cards, only passing the cards from person to person so that each person has one and only one card in hand. The process can be confusing for some people. 2 min.
  • Invite each participant to write a big idea and first step on his or her card. 5 min.
  • Conduct five 3-minute exchange-and-scoring rounds with time for milling (and laughing) in between. 15 min.
  • Ask participants to add the 5 scores on the back of the card they are holding
  • Find the best-scoring ideas with the whole group by conducting a countdown. Ask, “Who has a 25?” Invite each participant, if any, holding a card scored 25 to read out the idea and action step. Continue with “Who has a 24?,” “Who has a 23”…. Stop when the top ten ideas have been identified and shared. 5 min.
  • End by asking, “What caught your attention about 25/10?” 2 min.

WHY? Purposes

  • Develop a group’s ability to quickly tap their own very diverse sources of wisdom
  • Obtain results that are more likely to endure because they were generated transparently from within and without imported advice
  • Spark synergy among diverse views while building coherence
  • Encourage novice innovators to think boldly and come up with practical first steps and testable hypotheses
  • Create an environment in which good ideas and focused experiments can bubble up

Tips and Traps

  • Some of the scoring may be erratic. If a participant at the end of round five has a card with more or less than five scores, ask the participant to calculate the average of the scores and multiply this average by 5.
  • Invite the group to choose one big idea and first-action step and revise it so that it is expressed even more clearly and compellingly
  • Suggest a seriously fun but clear rating scale, for example: 1 = not your cup of tea to 5 = sends me over the moon. The crowd needs to understand and agree with the rating system if it is to be used for decisions.
  • As you start and demonstrate one exchange-and-scoring interaction, take your time and ask for feedback, particularly if it is a large group.
  • To make it hard to peek at scoring from earlier rounds, cover the back of the card with a Post-it note
  • Post all the cards on a wall or on tapestry paper, with the highest-scoring cards on the top

Riffs and Variations

  • Move to developing action plans or to Open Space with your Top 10
  • Give more scoring weight to ideas or experiments with testable hypotheses.  What evidence would show your idea works?  How will you test your idea?
    25/10 Crowdsourcing put into play in Japan.
  • Do a second round of 25/10 Crowd Sourcingthat includes others not in the present group (aka Cloud Sourcing!)
  • Include 25/10 Crowd Sourcing at the beginning and end of a meeting
  • Array your Top 10 in an Agreement-Certainty Matrix or in the Ecocycle
  • Instead of asking for bold ideas, ask, “If you could unmake one decision that is holding you back, what would it be? What is your first step to unmake it?”
  • Instead of bold ideas, ask, “What courageous conversation are you not having? What first step could spark your courage?”
  • Instead of bold ideas, ask, “What do you hope can happen in the future? What practical first step can you take now to tip the balance in this direction?”


  • For prioritizing ideas and galvanizing the community after an Open SpaceTechnology or “Unconference” (participant-driven) meeting
  • For illuminating bold ideas at the start of a conference or task-force meeting
  • For wrapping up an important meeting
  • For a closing circle to share ideas and reinforce bonds among group members. See “Developing Competencies for Physician Education” in Part Three: Stories from the Field.

Attribution: Liberating Structure developed by Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless. Inspired by improvisationalists, including Keith Johnstone.

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