June 12, 2018


Andrew Bergen

Ownership Linkage: The Interview Matrix

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in some large group sessions where the facilitator was able to gather a significant amount of information from each of the people involved. The method used was called an Interview Matrix. As I thought about this method of information gathering, it occurred to me that a board might use this approach to interact with a large number of people to gather their perspectives on Ends related questions. In fact, the numbers don’t have to be all that large. An Interview Matrix activity works for groups of 16 or more.

Not all boards have the opportunity to meet with a large number of their owners, but I can certainly see this type of activity working for any board that has many owners attending an annual event – Annual General Meetings for a membership association, for example.

A full description of how to use an Interview Matrix can be found here: https://prezi.com/09fxyfa9bk-e/four-interview-matrix/. This link can also be used as a presentation to give instructions to your participants. In short, the method works like this:

  1. You divide the participants into four groups. You can do this by having individuals select playing cards and assigning them to the group as indicated by the suit on the card.
  2. Each individual in the group is given a sheet with a question to ask others. For example, all people in the “hearts” group would be given the same question to ask individuals of the other three suits. For Ownership Linkage, these should be Ends-related questions (not means).
  3. The facilitator keeps track of time and has people move through six rounds of interviews. First, hearts will interview spades; diamonds will interview clubs (for example). So, each person with a “heart” will have to find an individual with a “spade” and spend six minutes interviewing them on their question – and record their responses
  4. Then, after six minutes, the rounds shift and then spades might interview diamonds, and clubs interview hearts (for example). Full instructions are simplified on the link provided above.
  5. When the six rounds of interviews are complete, each “suit” gathers back at their assigned station and they discuss and record all the information they heard from their interviewees. At this point, they should also include their own responses to the question as well. At these stations, the board could assign a board member to be the facilitator and record the conversation.

The benefits to this method are: a) the board can gather a large amount of owner perspectives in a relatively short period of time (the whole method takes about 75 minutes) and b) each individual involved would have given their perspective on each of the questions the board has asked, ensuring broad engagement.

There are many methods for gathering ownership input. If you have a large event with owners in the future, consider the Interview Matrix.




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