15% Solutions

Discover and focus on what each person has the freedom and resources to do now


This method focuses on drawing out contributions, big and small, that one team member can make, to produce a big breakthrough in an issue or a stagnating problem. The main components at play in this activity are the participant’s personal resources, such as ability and time.

How to use it

  • Progress at times of impasse, negativism, and sense of powerlessness.
  • Discover people’s individual power and collective power.
  • Reveal bottom-up solutions.
  • Remember unused capacity and resources.
  • Reduce waste.
  • Close the gap between knowing and doing.
  • Plan tasks in which individuals are expected to take initiative.
  • Any challenge that requires many people to change to generate success.

How to apply it


Participants are asked, “Where is your 15%?” and “Where do you have discretion and freedom to act?”


At first, the activity is carried out individually by an unlimited number of people then in pairs or small groups. Everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute.

  • 5 minutes: Each participant makes their own list of 15% Solutions.
  • 5 minutes: Each participant shares their ideas with a small group (3-4 members).
  • 5 minutes: Group members provide a consultation (asking clarifying questions and offering advice).

How to adapt it

  • This method is complementary to Troika ConsultingOpen SpaceHelping Heuristics, and Integrated Autonomy.
  • Returning to a group, you can ask, “What have you done with your 15% lately?”
  • Tell a story about a small change made by an individual that sparked a big result (e.g. Rosa Parks not giving up her seat on the bus for a white passenger in Alabama).


  • Check each item to make sure that it is within the discretion of the individual.
  • Reinventing the wheel is OK.
  • Each 15% Solution will add to your understanding of what is possible.
  • Clear and common purposes and boundaries can generate consistency among many 15% Solutions.
  • Make it routine in meetings.


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