Phillips 66

1. What is the Phillips 66 Method?
The Discussion 66 Method was devised by J. Donald Phillips, past president of
Hillsdale College, Michigan, U.S.A. in order to attempt to overcome some of the
reasons that people are reluctant to express themselves in group situations. It became
knows as the Phillips 66 Method after its creator [1]. The method was later outlined
by D. Keith Denton in his book “The Toolbox for the Mind” [2].
The Phillips 66 Method is a group discussion technique which is used to help
overcome the problem of silence in group situations and to ensure that everyone gets a
chance to contribute to the discussion. The group is divided into sub-groups of six
participants each. These groups each spend six minutes discussing possible solutions
to an identified problem, and then report back to the larger group with a proposed
solution [2].
The Phillips 66 Method is useful for large companies or groups. It is a means to get
feedback from a large number of people on specific issues in a formalised way, and
within a specific time frame. It can be used to evaluate strategy or procedures. It is
often combined with brainstorming techniques and it is particularly suited to helping
larger groups to brainstorm more effectively.
The Phillips 66 Method is beneficial because it gives all participants the space and
freedom to express themselves equally, thus ensuring that as many creative voices as
possible contribute to solving the problem in question. The process can be sometimes
limited by the time constraint, particularly where there are a number of issues arising
and there isn’t sufficient time to discuss all of them.
2. How is it implemented?
The Phillips 66 method is designed for use in large group situations but it can be
modified for use with smaller groups.
Assign an chairperson to manage the overall process
Divide participants into groups, with six participants per group.
o Assign a team-leader in each group to facilitate the discussion
o Assign a note-taker in each group to record the solution devised.
o Assign a time keeper in each group to time the sessions.
State the problem or issue clearly to ensure you arrive at a relevant and
successful solution [3].
o The problem should be concise and to the point without any extra
unnecessary information
o If the problem is too big it should be divided into smaller, more
manageable statements or questions.
o Aim for specific and concise answers
Set the time limit Each team then has six minutes to devise a solution to the
stated problem or issue
o The facilitator is responsible for ensuring that all participants in the
group have the chance to give their opinions, and that the group have
time at the end to sum up and agree a solution. The facilitator is also
responsible for ensuring that there is no censorship and that all
opinions are welcomed.
o The time-keeper is responsible for ensuring that the group keeps to the
time limits set
o The note-taker is responsible for ensuring that the solution is recorded
Final Discussion When the time is up the chairperson will chair a discussion
on the solutions generated. Frequently some similar solutions are produced,
and these can be linked or combined where appropriate [2].
Sample procedure for a Phillips 66 Session
Assign a chairperson
Assign a team leader, a
note taker and a time
keeper in each group
The facilitator chairs the
The time-keeper ensures
that the group keeps to the
time limits set
The note-taker ensures
that the solution is
recorded accurately.
Divide participants into
groups of six persons
State the issue to be discussed
Set the time limit and ensure
each participant knows their
role and responsibilities
Final Discussion
Assess and rate ideas
Buzz Groups
A buzz group is a small discussion group set up specifically to generate ideas and
solve problems, within a specific period of time period. Large groups may be divided
into buzz groups in order to maximise participation. Groups work separately either on
the same theme or on separate themes. Each group appoints a spokesperson to report
the results of the discussion to the larger group [4].
3. What are the Success Factors in the Phillips 66 Method?
The objective of the Phillips 66 method is to help participants overcome any fears
they might have of speaking out in front of a large group. To ensure that the method
is successful it is very important that participants feel free to express themselves, and
feel confident that their ideas and opinions are welcomed and valued.
It can be useful to establish the groups in advance of meeting, if possible. This allows
the following:
Groups can be established which include participants from a range of levels of
experience and backgrounds.
Facilitators can be chosen in advance and given any training they might need
to ensure that they can facilitate the process in an open, supportive and
inclusive way.
It is important to ensure that the problems or issues under discussion are clearly
understood by the participants in the process. It can be useful for the chairperson to
spend a few moments before each session outlining the problem to be discussed and
clarifying any initial queries. This is also an opportunity for the chairperson to
emphasis that all participants’ contributions are welcomed and valued.
4. List of References
[1] Brainstorming and a nation of Spectators – From: Information for Brainstorming
Success. [online]. [Accessed 28th Jan 2008]. Available from World Wide Web:
[2] Group Innovation Tools: Discussion 66 – From: Creativity at work [online].
[Accessed 28th Jan 2008]. Available from World Wide Web:
[3] "Brainstorming." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. [online]. [Accessed 28th Jan
[4] Business Definition for: Buzz Group – From: BNET Business Directory [online].
[Accessed 13th Feb 2008]. Available from World Wide Web:
5. Glossary
Brainstorming: Brainstorming is a group creativity technique designed to generate a
large number of ideas on a specific problem or issue
Buzz Groups: A buzz group is a small discussion group set up specifically to generate
ideas and solve problems, within a specific period of time period.
6. Keywords
Brainstorming, Buzz Group, Creativity Technique, Discussion 66 Method, Group
Discussion Technique, Large Groups, Phillips 66 Method
7. Questions
Describe three situations where the Phillips 66 method could be useful and
outline why.
What are the key success factors in the Phillips 66 method?
In the Phillips 66 method each group must develop: (tick one)
a. One good idea
b. Six ideas
c. Six good ideas
Answer a.
In the Phillips 66 method the note taker must: (tick one)
a. Note all ideas accurately
b. Note only unusual ideas
c. Rank ideas based on own preferences
Answer a.