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Board Blitz - Get Everyone's Thoughts at Once Exercise

Posted on by Brandon Klein

DESCRIPTION:
This is large group module, where everyone has the same assignment. At the facilitator’s signal, they charge to the WorkWalls, to write and/or diagram their response to a given question (or questions). If properly timed, this process is a high energy release. The classic example of this is “Why It Won’t Work” — participants write out all the reasons that their proposed course of action could fail. (See Why It Won’t Work). Frequently, you organize participants’ responses by templating the WorkWalls (naming major categories for response) prior to the “blitz.”
This format can be applied in any phase of a DesignShop. This can be a very high- powered module. It’s best applied when, in the dynamics of the creative process, there is a pent-up need (or frustration) and the participants want to get a body of information out in front of the group quickly.
MISSION:
To get a range of comments out in front of the group quickly. Sometimes, to get participants to share ideas that are strong but not widely spoken, or to switch focus to a new topic.
TIMING/TIME REQUIREMENTS:
Timing is important here; you have to have energy in the group or build the energy for this one. This is a good form to use once a group has a sense of “team” and commonality; if used before that’s established, it may drag — but it depends on the group and the challenge they’re given. If used before a group has covered new territory, expect the content to be “old thinking” (this is not necessarily bad). Takes typically half an hour to blitz, 15- 30 minutes to “report” (longer if a synthesis conversation is needed).
DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS:
Strengths — Fast. Gets everyone moving. Covers more ground more quickly than a group conversation. Can be a great release of energy. Gets everyone involved. Often “depersonalizes” information, allowing individuals to share comments and criticisms that they might not offer in other settings. Can be physical and fun, as participants allow themselves to work in tight around each other at the WorkWalls. Can result in aha’s! (shared insights). Can reveal patterns in a group’s thinking (mind) that is hard to discern otherwise. Weaknesses — Chaotic (this can be good, but not always). Typically calls for many short responses; this “bias” may mean that the content is less reflective, more “old thinking” (depending on timing). Participants will read each others’ comments during the “blitz.” (If you want them to be more reflective and you don’t want them influencing each other’s answers, consider Take A Panel instead).
Specifications for Success —
1. See note above on timing. If you sense that participants are likely to hold back, either give them a commanding call to action (and make it work), or choose something else. If they hold back, it’ll be an energy drain to the process (and may require you to intervene).
2. Give permission for what you want to happen. If you want candor, say so. 3. ?
SPECIAL MATERIALS REQUIRED: Have a large supply of white board markers out and available.
SPACE REQUIREMENTS: Radiant Room, WorkWalls
FACILITATOR/STAFF ROLES: Facilitate closure and reporting.
REPORTING: Typically, after the first phase calms down, people start scanning and reading and taking in the other comments. You can let this continue, then take it to discussion; or you can do a more formal report, for example, category by category.
VARIATIONS:
• Note that this type of module often generates more information than can be quickly absorbed; often it’s particularly useful to have the knowledge worker staff organize, analyze and re-present the information. • Introduce the process to the group, and have them select the categories; when the group’s satisfied with the categories, commence the blitz.
• Ask participants to put a check mark √ next to a response they agree with, rather than writing on the board a redundant comment.
OTHER REFERENCES: See Why It Won’t Work, Take a Panel.