The idea behind the FishBowl is quite simple - assemble some chairs (I used 4 chairs for about 12 people) in a semi-circle. These are the fish. Everyone else sits behind the inner circle - these are the observers.
I stood near the FishBowl, encouraged conversation and made sure that the rules were followed. I also took notes using a flip chart.
- Only the 'fish' can speak
- The 'fish' can only speak when exactly one of the fish' seats are empty
- Anyone may come forward and sit in the empty chair at any time
- Discussion then stops until one of the 'fish' relinquishes their seat and returns to an observer seat
- People may move between areas as often as they like
This has a number of effects on the group.
- People realize that they may only have a limited time to speak and will make points quite directly
- The group self-manages people who 'hog' the speaking chairs back into the observer pool
- When people feel passionate about a particular topic they jump into a fish chair
The session went really well - lots of intense passionate debate. I think that this is a really useful technique and a good way to introduce variation into a retrospective. Try it and see how it works for you!