The Phillips 66 Method

Not everyone gets a chance to contribute to discussions, especially when there are lots of people present.

Sometimes they don’t want to because they feel self-conscious. Not all teachers are super-confident!

So what do you do when people are reluctant to contribute and express themselves in large group situations such as conferences?

Donald Phillips, an adult education tutor at Michigan State College, had an idea and started a group discussion technique  to help overcome the problem of silence in group situations.

He suggested diving a large group up into sub-groups of six participants each and then these groups each spend six minutes (hence Phillips 66) discussing possible solutions to an identified problem, and then report back to the larger group with a proposed solution.

This method is particularly suited to helping larger groups to brainstorm more effectively and gives all participants the space and freedom to express themselves equally, thus ensuring that as many creative voices as possible contribute to solving the problem in question.

Here’s what to do:


Divide participants up into smaller teams and if possible have people sit so that they will not be overheard by others.


The team selects a spokesperson who will record and present the team’s ideas.


Present a problem or an issue for discussion. After a 6 minute discussion, ideas are recorded.


Each team evaluates their ideas, edits and presents them to the conference facilitator which will probably be you!


All ideas are then discussed and can be displayed in poster style around the room.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: