VIPP means “Visualisation in Participatory Programmes”, a people centred methodology for conducting group events, large and small, derived from over 40 years of experience in education and communication programmes. VIPP is unique in providing a creative combination of different visualised approaches which emphasize the importance of people's participation in solving development problems. Those of us involved in cultural, social and economic development programmes have encountered many group events such as planning workshops, seminars, training sessions, business and organizational meetings that are conducted with formality where participants are required to listen to a long list of presenters or speakers. Very often the protocol of the event is given more importance than the content.
In the last decade, the computerised presentation has taken over in most events and participants are often inundated with many words, graphs and diagrams – often overloading audiences with repetitious information. Discussion of the issues often consists of another series of speeches with little or no feedback. There is usually not enough time for discussion because many of the
presenters exceed their
time. Everyone has experienced such group events and many crave changes. Yet we also know how difficult it is to break away from this approach which is derived from our formal educational systems. It is difficult to achieve group consensus on what the key issues are on a particular subject matter and what new actions should be taken to address such issues. It is especially difficult to do this in a democratic way, respecting all viewpoints while balancing the need for professional or expert input. So, very often participatory sessions are avoided.
Based on a philosophy of trusting in the capacities and creativity of human beings, VIPP combines techniques of visualisation with methods for interactive decision making and learning. VIPP methods democratise interaction between people. Although many people may be familiar with participatory methods, this method is different. At the core of VIPP
is a large number
of visualisation techniques, including multi-coloured cards of different shapes and sizes on which the participants express their main ideas in large enough letters or diagrams to be seen by the whole group. Private note taking is not necessary since all the proceedings are visualised, photographed, and copied for the group as a collective memory.
By this method, everyone takes part in the process, whether it be arriving at a consensus or learning a new concept. Less talkative participants find a means of expression and those who might normally dominate a group usually lose control and are forced to let others have their say. By visualising the group's proceedings and referring to them, the facilitator can reduce repetition and circularity in discussion while revising and clarifying existing ideas, as the need arises, or adding new ideas as the group creates them.