by Greenblat & Duke, 1981; Spencer 1996

The Snow Card technique is a brainstorming tool that allows group to share individual ideas concerning a question. The ideas are then categorized in themes that help to deepen the analysis. The methods “combines brainstorming – which produces a long list of possible answers to specific questions” (Bryson, M.; 2011). The questions can be related to a SWOT analysis or any questions the group wants to answer. The questions have to be determined before the exercise.

Material needed:

  • Draft paper
  • Pieces of paper that you can stick to a wall – CARDS
  • A wall or blackboard where the pieces of paper will be displayed
  • Pencils 
  • Colored tape 
  • Colored stickers
  • A group of “five to nine person” (Bryson, M.; 2011). 
  • A room with table and seats (one table per group)
  • Camera 


Process:  To answer one question

  1. List questions you want to be answered 
  2. Chose a Facilitator
  3. If you have a large group (more than 12) divide it in sub groups of 5 people.
  4. Invite each group to go to one table 
  5. Ask individuals to list their individual answers for the question on the draft paper. There should not be exchange of idea between individuals.
  6. Ask individuals to select their best 5 or 7 answers and organize them by themes.
  7. Individuals will then write one idea per Card.
  8. Facilitator collects the anonymous Cards and shuffles them.
  9. The group will discuss the theme they found and create Theme Card in a different paper color to differentiate them from regular Cards. One Theme per Theme Card.
  10. The theme cards will be stick to the wall and the colored tape will allow delimitate the theme section.
  11. The facilitator will then enumerate each Card and ask the group to determine under which theme card it should go. New themes can be created at this stage if the group think it is necessary. 
  12. Once the group is satisfied with the repartition of the Cards under card theme they should “discuss, compare and contrast the results” (Bryson, M.; 2011).  
  13. The group should assess the importance of themes and / or cards by displaying a colored stick on important cards. Each individual will be given seven colored stickers that they will use to show their selection.
  14. At the end of the process, the results should be saved in an excel document. The information will be the card information, the themes and the priority level. You can also take pictures of the blackboard during the exercise in order to remember the process. 

This exercise is powerful as it allows people to express themselves without the fear of judgment. It also gives a better idea of what is actually happening in the organization. If you want to answer several questions you have two choices. Your first choice is to start over again for each question. Your second choice will be to assign one question per group. It is much faster but you may miss possible answers.

Source:
Bryson, M. (2011) Strategic Planning for Public and nonprofit Organization: A guide to strengthening and sustaining Organizational Acheivement, 4th Edition, Jossey-Bass