Change - Strategic Facilitation

by Tony Mann

Spider plotting

The Spider diagram method is a useful way to get a snapshot of a range of factors. It’s more visual than a formal questionnaire or interviews, giving an immediate visual impression of a group's thinking. It can be used as part of any workshop where the group is auditing/scoring such things as factors, issues or potential opportunities.

It can be used to audit factors or to explore needs, plotting geographical or organisational ideas.


  1. Draw a circle on flipchart paper on the floor or the wall. For each factor to audit, draw a line from the centre to the circle, writing the title/name of the factor at the end of each line. Finally, draw spider lines/circles, working from the inside to the outside of the circle (see diagram).
  2. Gather the participants around the model on the floor or on wall. Ask them (all, all to one, group, one to all) to put one dot for each item: if the score is high, the dot should be nearer the outside of the circle; if it’s low, the dot should be close to the centre of the spider (see diagrams).
  3. For an all, cluster the scores on each axis and look for the range.
  4. Present and discuss the result with the group.


You can also do spider diagrams on the floor by drawing the circle and lines with tape, large enough to accommodate the whole group.

  1. Gather the participants around the floor.
  2. Stand in the centre and say, one by one, the factors to score.
  3. Ask the group to stand near the centre if they want to rank the factor as low and to stand near the edge of the circle if they want to score the factor as high.

This is a visual process and allows discussion and reflection on the implication of the scoring. The strategic facilitator can ask people to make comments on why they have scored the factor where they have, or why they stood where they did.


All – using a scatter plot


Exploring needs

You can also use this tool for plotting geographical or organisational ideas. For example, if the group wants to visualise the deployment of a service, they could physically represent this on the floor using a ‘map’.

We have seen this used to help the Scottish Football Association identify where all the top class (youth) football coaches were based. When people stood in a map of the country, it was obvious that their deployment didn’t support the development of the game in rural areas. The group was asked to move to locations where they believed the coaches should be based to reflect a more even distribution. This graphic representation helped the thinking.