The New Volunteerism Project

The Archival Collection of
Ivan Henry Scheier

Section VIII

The Minimax Set

June 1999

The page #'s refer to the pages of the "New Volunteerism  Project: The Ivan Scheier Archival Collection."
Five bound volumes placed in the Reference collection of the
Dayton Memorial Library at Regis University
Table of Contents Page #
Introductory Notes
The Original MINIMAX Method @ 1-26
(Co-MINIMAX I) @ 27-31
(? Co-MINIMAX II) @ 32
(The Central Network Pool) @ 33-38
(** The Glad Gift Game) 39-42
1– Brackets indicate a variation of the preceding method, though distinct and might be equally significant.
2 – Asterisks indicate the method is considered ready to use:
blank means not ready; and
? -- means maybe in-between, I’m uncertain.

@ -- permission for use-with-acknowledgment
-- Appropriate permission must be secured from the publisher for re-publication

 Introductory Notes – The MINIMAX Set
Ivan Scheier
June, 1999

From about 1975 to 1985, a major area of concentration for me was networking, which I defined as the facilitation of win-win interactions among people or groups. Two entire sections are devoted to this subject:

The Network Initiation Packet (Section IX), describes eight or ten methods or devices for triggering networks in the first place.

The present MINIMAX Set packet is built around a single relatively sophisticated method starting, maintaining and nourishing networks. The core of this packet is MINIMAX, designed primarily for establishing networks among individuals. This is by far the most popular and widely used of the methods I’ve developed. Along with MINIMAX, the packet also contains three significant variations of the original method. The Table of Contents for this section therefore becomes:

– "The Original MINIMAX Method" with a transition to the three variation at page 29. (pages 2-26)

-- "Co-MINIMAX I and  MINIMAX II" especially designed for networking between groups or organizations. (Pages 28-32)

-- "The Central Network Pool" concentrates on interaction with a central resource bank rather than more directly among individuals or groups. (33-38)

-- "The Glad Gift Game" is an attempt to simplify the original method by focusing much more on what people have to give rather than on needs along with gifts. (Pages 39-42)

The four above are distinct procedurally but share a common orientation usually referred to as the MINIMAX Principle: "Make the MINIMUM difference in what People want to do, and can do, which has the MAXIMUM positive effect on other people (individuals or groups)" MINimum-MAXimum or MINIMAX.

All four of the methods have been published previously, but only The Glad Gift Game is still in print. Also, the four have never been published together with comment and analysis on their inter-relationships. Finally, a fair amount of rewriting and refining has been done here on Co-MINIMAX and The Central Network Pool.

Please Note:

Some familiarity with the Original MINIMAX process is desirable before considering any of its three variations. If you are not thoroughly versed in MINIMAX through practice over the years, this familiarity can be gained by reading Part I which follows immediately here.

Everyone of the four publications listed on the previous page is long out of print.   The same is true of the chapter composing the preceding section.  Only a few very minor changes were necessary in thus text, which suggests that the method, originating about 1970, had "settled down" by 1981, some seventeen or eighteen years ago.  That is understandable - MINIMAX has been among the most frequently and widely used of all my methods, so there was ample opportunity to refine it on the basis of experiential feedback.  As for intended usage, MINIMAX like all my methods, was first developed and applied with volunteers and volunteer programs, in mind, so most of the examples given are from that framework.  Clearly, however, people who receive money for their work and/or have less than perfect free choice about it, have needs and glad gifts much as do volunteers.  (For examples see the list of glad gifts on pages 42-44).  And the use of MINIMAX as an icebreaker or team-builder (see page 40)   is equally useful for paid staff in a agency, club members, etc.

While, as noted, the original version of MINIMAX appears to have crystallized, several somewhat newer variations of it have evolved to address challenges the original methods does not deal with.  These presently less refined variations will compose the remainder of this packet.  The variations are:

Part I: The Original MINIMAX Method

This section is primarily a reprint of Chapter Four from my 1981 book entitled The New People Approach Handbook. (Section X) The book was published by Yellowfire Press, Boulder, Colorado and is now out of print.

I was surprised how well the method appears to have "settled down" by 1981 and therefore have decided to use the above mentioned chapter virtually verbatim as an effective representation for the future of the MINIMAX method. Occasional specific updating comments are identified as "1999" and are usually in the left hand margin of the text. The most pertinent general comments are:

A "glad give," more recently called a "glad gift," is something fairly specific a person (or group) likes to do and can do pretty well, which has clear potential for having positive effects on other individuals or groups. This glad gift is a core element in my development of methods and further discussions of its use will be found throughout this collection, especially in "The Window of Work," "The Work Assignment Grid," and "Need Overlap Analysis in Helping (NOAH)." (All in Section VI)

"MINI-MAX as used in the quoted chapter, is today more likely to be written as MINIMAX (without the hyphen).

The examples are drawn largely from volunteer programs which was my concentration back in 1981. I can only hope their broader application is obvious, e.g. translating "volunteer" to "participant," "member" or just "person" and embodying examples from everyday life in addition to agency programs.

Part II: The MINIMAX  I and II Method

MiniMax I       MiniMax II

The original MiniMax (previous section) was designed for individuals as participants. For groups, programs, or organizations as participants, a Co -MiniMax process was developed as a variation of the original methods. Both methods are equally applicable for any composition of the participating groups: unpaid, paid or bartering; voluntary or outside-presurred, etc.

The earliest version of Co-MiniMax is reproduced below as Chapter 7, pages 36-39 of "The Bridge: A Guide for Networkers" with co-author Susan Dryovage, published in 1981 by Yellowfire Press, Boulder, Colo., now out of print. This version, pretty well crystallized by 1981, followed closely, the format of the original MiniMax in translating from individuals to groups participants.

Designated Co-MiniMax I, it was never widely used. The reason for this are suggested at the end of this section in the full clarity of hindsight. Co-MiniMax II, very recently developed is then proposed as an improvement more likely to be used in the real world.

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Ivan Scheier
607 Marr
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, 87901
Tel (505) 894-1340

For comments and editing suggestions please contact Mary Lou McNatt