15% Solutions

Action, Closing, Opening

Accepting feedback, Collaboration, Define intentions, Goal setting, Ideation & idea generation, Perspective, Providing feedback

Active listening, Evaluation, Introspection, Self-reflection

Up to 15 min, Up to 30 min

6-15 persons, 16 – 30 persons, More than 30 persons




You can reveal the actions, however small, that everyone can do immediately. At a minimum, these will create momentum, and that may make a BIG difference.

15% Solutions show that there is no reason to wait around, feel powerless, or fearful. They help people pick it up a level. They get individuals and the group to focus on what is within their discretion instead of what they cannot change.

The main goal is to: Discover & Focus on What Each Person Has the Freedom and Resources to Do Now

With a very simple question, you can flip the conversation to what can be done and find solutions to big problems that are often distributed widely in places not known in advance. Shifting a few grains of sand may trigger a landslide and change the whole landscape.

Where you can use this approach?

  • For any problem-solving or planning activity in which you want individuals to take initiative
  • For any challenge that requires many people to change for success to emerge
  • For generating small “chunks” of success that can be combined into a simple prototype that is easy and cheap to test (low-fidelity prototype)

Necessary tools (what you need)

  • Recording device to be agreed prior to the activity


  1. In connection with their personal challenge or their group’s challenge, ask participants, “What is your 15 percent? Where do you have discretion and freedom to act? What can you do without more resources or authority?” When briefing the exercise and assigning the pairs or groups to work together, keep all participants in the main video conference room and explain best practices.
  2. After this step is completed, turn on breakout rooms so each group can work on their tasks.

Make sure that everyone is included and has an equal opportunity to contribute. First each participant works alone, then in pairs or small groups.

  • First alone, each person generates his or her own list of 15% Solutions. 5 min.
  • Individuals share their ideas with a small group (2 to 4 members). 3 min. per person and one person at a time
  • Group members provide a consultation to one another (asking clarifying questions and offering advice). 5 to 7 min. per person and one person at a time

WHY? Purposes

  • Move away from blockage, negativism, and powerlessness
  • Have people discover their individual and collective power
  • Reveal bottom-up solutions
  • Share actionable ideas and help one another
  • Build trust
  • Remember unused capacity and resources (15 percent is always there for the taking)
  • Reduce waste
  • Close the knowing-doing gap
  1. After the group breakout groups are completed and participants return to the main room, debrief the exercise. Remind participants that there is always 15 percent for the taking.

Tips & Tricks

  • Check each item to assure that it is within the discretion of the individual
  • Be ready for BIG things to emerge via the butterfly effect
  • Reinventing the wheel is OK
  • Each 15% Solution adds to understanding of what is possible
  • Clear, common purpose and boundaries will generate coherence among many 15% Solutions
  • Make it a routine to ask for 15% Solutions in meetings (15% Solutions are otherwise commonly unnoticed and overlooked)
  • While introducing the idea, tell a story about a small change made by an individual that sparked a big result
  • When facilitating group discussion, we would recommend that participants use non-verbal means to indicate they would like to speak. You can use tools like Zoom’s nonverbal feedback tools, a reaction emoji, or just have people put their hands up. The facilitator can then invite that person to talk.

The exercise is successfully completed when? Conclusion?