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Special - Spatial Planning and Energy for Communities in All Landscapes Town and Country Planning Association European Union

Knowledge Pool

Task forces

Keywords

Group work, strategies for action, process support

Introduction

A Task Force is a temporary group of people formed to carry out a specific mission or project, or to solve a problem that requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Every member has a special knowledge or experiences in a specific topic or places her/his own points of emphasis and shares those with the other members. Every member has to have the possibility to establish direct contact to the other members. 
The group work can be linked with semiautonomous group work. Semiautonomous groups are characterized by their different decision-making powers (variability) depending on their areas of knowledge.

A Task Force can be chaired by a moderator. They can take their work directly to residents through meetings, world cafés, small gatherings, kitchen table discussions, and dialogues.

Applicability

Suitable

  • To work out project contents
  • To develop strategies for action
Expiry of the method
  • Presenting the task (e.g. through presentations of the single members)
  • Discussion (Moderation and recording the results): the moderation’s task is not only to guide the discussion, but to enable the participants’ exchanges. The more the members organize themselves, the better this will be for the group’s development
  • The members decide the method of work recording (e.g. minutes, tape recordings, flipchart notes, visualizations with index cards or only oral summaries through members.
  • Tips for discussion leading
  • Premediate the most important aspects to be addressed
  • Important statements and questions should be summarized once in a while
  • Mark contributions leading away from the topic. Interrupt if necessary!
  • Take every member’s opinion into consideration. Silent ones can be addressed directly: “What is your opinion? – “Do you agree?”
Duration

Short-term (1 day) to long-term (several months)

Participants
  • Civil representatives (especially technically qualified citizens / experts)
  • Political and administrational representatives
  • Number of participants: small group (up to 15 people)
Prerequisite for success
  • Clarifying the task and the central requirements, which derive from the concrete task.
  • Ensuring good working conditions.
  • Clarifying the composition of the group.
  • Defining the initial aim and the means for supporting the process.
  • In processing within the time available it must be produced something useful.
Required materials
  • Facilitator’s toolbox
Principles, relevant parameters to be considered
  • Potential difficulties can occur if group members do not pursue the group’s but his / her personal  targets
  • The method is not representative
  • Sometimes it is neccessary to weigh the methods related to the participants mood for action – for example: the Focus Group method can enable a non-binding, time limited start into the discussion about the common problems and then motivate the group to set up a task force