Legends : Role Playing Exercise

Posted on by Brandon Klein

This is an exercise in “coming from the future” and solving a problem by assuming a successful result. Participants are asked to project themselves 10 years into the future, and, looking back, tell how the group’s mission was accomplished, despite all obstacles. Each DesignTeam is encouraged to think of their presentation in terms of myth — not myth as falsehood or lack of clear understanding of the truth, but myth in terms of the cultural values and organizational learnings that are passed from one generation to another through the rite of storytelling. Thus, participants are encouraged to describe the heroes and heroines, the dragons slain, the riddles solved, the acts of cleverness or resourcefulness or daring that led to the successful outcome. Sometimes the scene is set for the participants’ presentations: they are to be part of an award dinner or retirement party or 10-year reunion of the team that made it happen. This is a fun exercise that usually elicits a lot of creativity.

To use humor and role-playing to draw out possible solutions to the issues under consideration; to have participants “take on” the assumption that a solution is attainable, and envision the new conditions that result.

This is a Scan module. In the “classic 3- day DesignShop,” this module follows scenario and syntopical reading, and is thus the first module that specifically invites participants to present their “answers” to the issues under consideration (which it does in a playful or light way). Coming early in the afternoon, it is carried out as two quick rounds of design and report; in this way, ideas that are strong in one round are subsequently picked up and used by other teams. (For example, 45 minutes design, 30 minutes report, 45 minutes design, 30 minutes report; with movement time, a 3-hour module). This module can also be employed later in Scan (for example, following other DesignTeam work) and as a single cycle of design-and-present. This format allows the teams to go deeper in developing their material and props, allowing a more theatrical, staged presentation. (Again, about 3 hours: 2 hours in teams, 1 hour reports).

Strengths — Through humor, ideas are often broached that could not be shared in other ways. The core strategies of a solution often come out in this module (though participants may not see it or take it seriously until later). This module is creative, fun, usually very high energy. Supports team work/play. Weaknesses — May not fit shorter events or if the project parameters are narrow (e.g., an “engineering-level” event).

Specifications for Success —
• Precede this module with other Scan activities; use it once the group is working together.
• If necessary, remind the group that this is still Scan, i.e., don’t censor your ideas, push out the “envelope” of possible solutions, have fun and play with it.
• Use music to “set the stage” for legends reports.

SPECIAL MATERIALS REQUIRED: Paper, pens, construction paper, foam core, other materials to make props. Music support to “set the stage.”

SPACE REQUIREMENTS: Stage area if available.

FACILITATOR/STAFF ROLES: Standard. Consider wall scribing if short report format is used. Consider music, lights, other atmospherics, as appropriate.

Team reports.

• Three short DesignTeam rounds: final round in terms of newspaper “headlines” that convey the essential story (for example, each team presents 10 headlines with their respective dates).
• Sometimes teams video their presentation. Can be very effective.


Also see Skits exercise.