Solutions Social Deduction (SSD): make learning organizations emerge

SSD (Solutions Social Deduction) is an activity that helps groups become learning organizations.

To do so, it encourages individuals to improve the way the observe the group’s situation and pushes them to find what is good for them as well as the reusable things already working.

SSD step by step:

  • You play the role of the host
  • Ask the members of the group to think of one action they could do, individually, to make the life of the group slightly better. This action must be kept for themselves; it is a secret. It is not necessary a big revolutionary idea they are ask to do realize. Everybody is free to invest as much energy as they want into the activity but everybody MUST do something. then, they communicate this action to you, the host (it can be done, for instance, via a piece of paper with their action and name on it, or via a private message on your favorite messaging app)
  • Ask the group when they want to gather again to get the conclusion of the activity
  • Explain them that during the “conclusion gathering“, everybody will be asked to give their best guess of what the secret improvement actions done by the others were. It is ok to formulate several guesses about one participant’s actions.
  • When they try to guess what others, ask them why they thought it was the improvement action, what good it brought to the group
  • At the end of the first “conclusion gathering“, agree on the schedule for the next session. Even try to make it a recurring event since learning is not a one and done thing. Encourage the participants to try new things every time in order to make the activity funnier (and to explore more improvement paths). For instance, they could do things they always wanted to do but never could.

Optional scoring methods for the conclusion gatherings:

Even if the activity works perfectly without any scoring mechanics, some groups may like to use one. Here are a few suggestions on how to allocate points to the participants during the “Conclusion Gatherings”.

  • You can give the participants points for each correct guess about the action others chose to do at the begenning of an SSD round. I suggest not giving penalties when people make several guesses because we purposely want people to explicit as many beneficial actions as possible
  • And/or you can give the participants points every time someone guessed their action, the one they communicate to the host at the beginning of the activity, well (i.e. their action was so good for the team that it has been noticed easily)
  • You can also ask the participants to vote for the most original and unexpected action (and give extra points to its owner) in order to favor innovation

How does SSD help a group become a learning organization?

Asking people to try to guess what good things the others are trying to bring to the group will help them improve the way they perceive the other members and the group’s situation. Making their “group sensors” better is already a form of learning.

But even stronger than this is the fact that, by explaining why they think an action was good for the group, they are also improving their understanding of what is good for the group. It looks silly said this way but it is nonetheless true: the more you force yourself to detect specific things, the more familiar they become and the more you learn about them. Therefore, it will help the participants focus on these things in the future and it encourages them to do more of the good things they already did in the past (e.g. build on them, do them more frequently or more intensively). This is a fundamental step in making a group a learning organization.
It is also interesting to note that, among the actions they noticed and discussed during the “conclusion gatherings”, some were not specifically made within the SSD context. Some beneficial actions were done naturally and have often been debuted before the SSD officially started. This will build the group’s confidence, their awareness of the strength and the resources they have and, thus, enable their capacity to dare trying… And learn!


Thank you to Shilpi Singhal who helped me tune the steps of this activity

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