How to run a PRISM session

In this tutorial, I will show you the basics of how to run a PRISM session.

We will look at:
 – Roles and responsibilities
 – Preparatory tasks
 – Stages of a session
 – Important Guidelines

Watch the 6 minute video below.

Most, if not all people! For example, work teams, peers across the same tier, cross- functional inter and transdisciplinary groups at any level within the organisation.

The flexibility within PRISM groups allows individuals to work together by aiding one another with taking on challenges, and solution finding. Individuals can also take themselves through a self-reflective process using the Violet protocol.

A PRISM session can be conducted with two or more people. An ideal group size is between 4 and 6 people which allows both diversity and time for everyone to contribute. Larger groups should be split in smaller sub groups.

Let’s talk about roles and responsibilities.

There are three key roles taken during a PRISM session – That of Facilitator, Seeker and Peers. These roles are chosen by the group for each new session, and often rotate.

FACILITATOR:

The Facilitator has the critical role of guiding the process and keeping participants on track.

  • They keep the group focused on solutions.
  • They ensure that guidelines and processes are followed.
  • They participate as a respondent, just like others.
  • They can start and stop people at any time if appropriate for the sake of keeping everyone on track or to deter un-useful dialogue. 

SEEKER:

The Seeker is the person who seeks feedback, or a resolution to an issue or challenge they are facing.

  • They listen with an open mind to questions, stories and feedback.
  • They follow the Facilitator’s instructions and keep to the guidelines.
  • They explain issues and challenges as clearly as possible.
  • They answer questions as best as possible and keep to the point. 

PEERS:

The Peers are the remaining participants of the group who provide new perspectives and insights.

  • They follow the Facilitator’s instructions and agreed process.
  • They contribute willingly, openly and ethically.
  • They are respectfully honest and fair.
  • They understand they provide valuable feedback.

Here are four things to consider prior to running a PRISM session:

  • Make sure to communicate clearly with the group around meeting time, place and duration.
  • PRISM can be used for a spontaneous huddle with colleagues or part of a regular weekly meeting. The group can meet online or face to face.
  • As a guide, 60 minutes is usually enough to cover two issues, this includes time for short introductions and check in at the start,  and a debrief and close at the end. You could also do a quick 30-minute session on one topic or 90 minutes and focus on three. It’s up to you.
  • It is important to find a safe, private and comfortable space to talk as a group. This could be face to face or online using a tool like Skype or Zoom.

Let’s turn now to the running of a PRISM session.

MEETING PART ONE – getting the group started.

  • Begin with a group check-in once everyone has arrived. For example, ask: “What’s top of mind?” or “Let’s each share something that makes us smile”. Or maybe say a poem or a prayer.
  • Do introductions if there are new peers joining the group.
  • Establish roles for the first set. Decide who will be Facilitator, Seeker and Peer.
  • Remind everyone about the GUIDELINES and seek agreement on them. These include kindness, confidentiality, speaking in ‘I’ statements, listening to learn, mutual respect and building others up.

MEETING PART TWO – the PRISM process.

  • The Facilitator starts by asking the Seeker what the issue is that they bring, and what outcome they would like to see from the session. Deeply personal issues should be avoided.
  • The Seeker explains the issue.
  • The Peers ask clarifying questions of the Seeker to gain greater understanding of the issue.
  • The Facilitator selects a PRISM protocol that is considered appropriate. (The Red PRISM is the most common).
  • When a color has been chosen, the Facilitator reads the instructions for that protocol and everyone follows the process to the conclusion.

MEETING PART THREE  – pathways for action, making commitments and wrapping up.

  • At the end of a set, the Seeker tells the group what learnings they are taking away and what actions they will take.
  • The group may choose to finish or continue on with a new topic.
  • Before finishing, participants discuss the timing of the next PRISM meetup and share some key reflections from the day’s session.
  • Finally, participants thank each other and say goodbye.

And that, in a nutshell, is how a PRISM session runs.

The true effectiveness of PRISM depends on how well groups keep to guidelines, common understandings, ethical considerations and organisational expectations. These are the ground rules which allow for a safe environment for all participants and assist in keeping the process on track.

Here are the top ten:

ONE : Agree to a common understanding that:

  • Participants can learn and are capable of growth.
  • Participants can receive value and are capable of contributing value regardless of experience and designation.
  • Participants are self-directed and therefore can choose to take what is of value to them personally from a PRISM session, and leave the rest.

TWO : Have a group Facilitator:
The facilitator’s role is to guide the process within PRISM, and keep everyone on track.

THREE : Keep to one speaker at a time:
This ensures group members know who they should be listening to.

FOUR : Respect individual differences and perspectives:
All participants bring different perspectives, and therefore offer thoughts and experiences that could be of use to others.
The intention of the group is to foster an environment of mutual respect, understanding and trust.

FIVE : No dialogue between the Seeker and the group unless the process stipulates: This ensures there is listening, and it removes the opportunity for negative comments such as “I’ve done that before with someone else, it won’t work…”

SIX : Keep names and personal information confidential:
This focuses on the solution as opposed to the person and removes the ‘exceptions’ that might otherwise be given to certain persons.
It also does not predetermine failure about a person because they have a ‘history’ and helps keep to the core issue.

SEVEN : Speak in ‘I’ statements:
When speaking, participants should refer to themselves using ‘I’ statements. For example: “There was a time when I felt…” rather than “You should…”. Do not make judgement statements, give advice or make assumptions about the Seeker or others, unless the process requires it. It can feel uncomfortable at times not to jump in however the Facilitator needs to be strict about this!

EIGHT : Increase people’s choices and opportunities:
Provide feedback to others that is generous. It is meant for consideration and another way of dealing with issues, which increases the choices and opportunities available to the Seeker. The Seeker has the freedom to choose what is best for them, and decide what to do.

NINE : Declare conflicts of interest:
Where a participant feels they have a conflict of interest, they can declare it and choose to stay in the process or observe. This keeps communication transparent.

TEN : Be kind to each other:
Build others up and support everyone to be their best selves.
Don’t progress with deeply personal issues.

If you would like more detailed instruction, Wheelhouse Education offers individualized and advanced training for organisations and groups both face to face and online. And, facilitate live PRISM sessions with groups and teams.

Contact for more details. Email: prism@wheelhouseeducation.com