Training Technique: Combined Ranking

Training Technique: Combined Ranking


When delivering training courses, sometimes you need to get the delegates go through an exercise that involves sorting cards. Card sorting is a training activity where you get the delegates to think about a subject and vote by sorting a number of options. Sometimes they may need to generate these options before sorting them. Usually, the aim is to pick the best option or find a consensus on how to move forward.

Here, you will be introduced to a variation of card sorting that makes the process systematic for a group of delegates and allows them to make a decision collectively.


Use the combined sort technique to rank a number of cards based on a given criterion.

What You Need

  • Blanks cards


  • Distribute the blank cards to delegates.
  • Present the problem and ask them to generate the options using a suitable method based on your training needs and the problem domain. Alternatively, you can provide fixed options so everyone goes thorough the same choices.
  • Ask each person to rank the cards from best to worst.
  • Allocate 2 minutes for this.
  • Divide the delegates to pairs. If you have an odd number of delegates use a group of three.
  • Ask each pair to join and review their rankings. They should now work together to create a new ranked list of all the cards. They can eliminate duplicates to facilitate the process.
  • Allocate 2 minutes for this.
  • Now pair two teams together and ask them to repeat the process by combining their cards and generate a new ranked list.
  • Allocate 2 minutes for this part.
  • Continue until all delegates are involved in the final ranking task.
  • Follow with a discussion about the results.


Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: N rounds * 2 min = 16 minutes for 8 delegates and four rounds.

Group Feedback: 10 minutes


What do you think of the final ranked cards? Is this what you expected? How did the process help generate a consensus? When would you use this card sorting technique? 

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