Clap to the Right or Left & Move Right to Left-Front to Back

Posted on by Brandon Klein

PASS THE CLAP - Simple energizing exercise. 

1- Everyone stand in a circle

2- You essentially pass one clap to the next person

3- After people go around the first time slowly, try it again the other direction

4- Then speed things up

5- Finally introduce clapping both directions- aka - as one clapis being passed around - as it reaches the midpoint, start one the other direction. 

6- Fast paced video of it in action coming soon


BtoF&LtoR: Simple energizing exercise to move around the room: 

One of the simplest exercises around. After a group has been sitting for a while- simply ask the folks on the right side of the room to move to the left and the left to the right. Front to back, back to front. Have each person introduce themselves to one person they don't know along the way! 


Teach art (quickly) before asking participants to apply it...

Posted on by David Roberts

Many of us run individual perspectives activities designed to allow participants to communicate their thoughts and feelings in a different way. Specifically, we are moving them away from black text in bullet points and toward the use of strategic models that communicate more effectively.

There's a recent learning Aaron Williamson, Doug Cheek and I stumbled on when we were in a time-crunched sitation. We wanted to change the introduction to an individual perspectives activity:

  1. Work with a graphic facilitator to teach graphic recording, and go back-and-forth with a scribe about what they think about when they draw a model (Aaron Williamson, a Canadian by background, explained the sport of curling using a real-time model) (3 min)
  2. Write up and explain the 4 elements of strategic modeling (or some similar perspective on what the basics are) - Actors, Annotations, Relationships, and Frame (2 min)
  3. Have participants run a quick practice with using paper and pen under their chair. In two recent events of approximately 20 participants we had them do "Draw the process of making toast", then "Draw how you get dressed in the morning" (2 minutes to draw, 90 sec to share with neighbor, 90 sec to debrief)

Then move into an individual activity that asks them to put their perspective onto flip chart paper or a white board - typiclally this activity asks for their point of view on problem they are trying to solve or what strategy they are clarifying.

Doug, Aaron, and I did this on two recent short events with a biotech company and were blown away by how much faster and better their models were after just one practice session. And it doesn't take ANY extra time.

If you have time, you should do a more indepth training or explanation up front. I know a lot of us are working on what that experiential training for non-artists is. Very cool stuff.

The key is that everyone gets in a quick rep without the pressure of putting up their perspective, as a model for all to see, on something important. This practice rep greatly mitigates a big pressure element of individual perspectives: can I actually draw a model successfully.

The 10 minutes you lose in the build up you get back because they can do their models and perspectives in 15 min, not 25.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Exercise

Posted on by Jonah Evans

Looking for ways to get your team to understand the importance of details, instructions, and following a process? One of the best exercises to do this is call the PB&J Exercise.

Follow these links (downloadable PPT) for the instructions and process flow guidelines.

Finally, teams turn in their completed process flows of list of instructions and as one whole group, a "chef" tries to create the sandwich while the facilitator reads the instructions from the worst teams flow/instructions. Laughs all around, but a very powerful point.

Inventions: Photo Guide Setup

Posted on by Robin Brooking

Inventions. A corner stone module of DesignShops. Here is a photo guide for the Map Layout, Tools Table and Materials Table.

And don't forget to read about how to write the assignment and deliver the module: Inventions Collaboration Exercise

Download all the assignments, photo guides, rules etc. from one zip file!

And below is the most comprehensive shopping list ever created! (compliments of Nicole Brandon)

Or download the one zip files with the list and comments for use.



Inventions Inventory List 2011      



(1)  Oval aluminum pan

(1)  Rectangular aluminum pan

(1)  100 Ft all purpose clothesline

(2)  Rainbow colored rope

(1)  Green and white wide rope

(1)  Yellow wide rope

(1)  Black wide rope

(1)  Package of nylon rope 14.6 x 3.2

(9)  Red and white rope strands

(1)  Mason line

(1)  Package of clothes line

(3)  Rolls of heavy duty twine

(1)  Orange heavy chain

(1)  Medium wt silver chain

(1)  Lt wt silver chain

(1)  Heavy wt silver chain

(1)  Heavy wt white chain

(1)  Pkg 4 plastic spring clamps

(1)  Bag color plastic clamps

(2)  Ace bandages

(2)  Metal reflector plates

(1)  Salad tongs

(2)  Shoe horns

(1)  Curvy cutter

(1)  Square tray

(2)  Silver gardening buckets

(1)  Wicker basket

(7)  Pipe connectors – PVC pipes, drain traps

(14) Dryer ventilation…Flexible

(2)  Mouse Traps



(2)  72 inch

(2)  Long Green

(2)  Medium

(1)  Short





(4)  Large Wheels

(4)  Medium Wheels

(4)  Small Wheels

(4)  Extra Small Wheels

(4)  Independent Medium Wheels no attachment

(2) Packages of Model Wheels

(2) Micro Rollers



(4)  Small baseballs - TOYS

(1)  Small soccer ball - TOYS

(1)  Small space ball - TOYS

(12) Ping Pong balls - TOYS

(1)  Zoom ball - TOYS

(7)  Large bouncy ball - TOYS

(1) Baby plastic boulder - TOYS

(12) Multi Color bouncy balls - TOYS

(8)  Small bouncy balls - TOYS



Things That Make Noise

(6)  Alarm clocks – (3) white – (3) blue - Batteries for alarm clocks

(3)  Wind chimes - TOYS

(2)  Noisy putty - TOYS

(2)  Egg Rattles – TOYS

(1)  Green Rattle – TOYS

(1)  Tambourine – TOYS

(2)  Whistles – TOYS

(1)  Kazoo – TOYS

(1)  Mini trombone – TOYS

(1)  Mini noise knocker – TOYS

(1)  Hand Clapper - TOYS

(1)  Clicker Gun – TOYS

(1)  Star Wars wand – Lights and Sound - TOYS

(3) New Years Noise Makers





(1)  Large Tonka Truck - TOYS

(1)  Medium Toy Truck - TOYS

(1)  Baby truck - TOYS

(1)  Airplane truck - TOYS

(1)  Little People dump truck - TOYS

(1)  Set of Tower Blocks - TOYS

(1)  Wand - TOYS

(2)  Flying Discs - TOYS

(15) Plastic Sandbox Shovels – (1) Red sand box bucket no handle - TOYS

(4)  Beach buckets - (1) Small Batman bucket - TOYS

(2)  Plastic red fire fighter hats – TOYS

(1)  Large bag wind up toys and toys for trucks - TOYS

(2)  Jump ropes - TOYS

(1)  Set mini car racers- TOYS

(1)  Slinky - TOYS

(1)  Large bag of balloons - TOYS




(1)  Box of wood shims

(1)  Package of composite shims

(6)  Bandanas / Handkerchiefs

(1)  Package of rubber weather seal

(1)  Toilet plunger 




(11) Pair Gloves – (1) spare pair in ziploc bag – okay to use – located in Box 1

(6)  Cans of Tennis Balls

(6)  Judges aprons

(1)  Sheriff Apron




(7)  Saws

(2)  Safety goggles for sawing

(2)  Pair of safety gloves for work station

(1) Safety helmet for work station

(4)  Pliers

(2)  Wire cutters

(1)  Hole punch for wood

(3)  Paper hole punchers

(6)  Tape measures – assorted sizes

(10) Rulers

(1)  Mallet

(6)  Hammers

(7)  Large screwdrivers

(1)  Medium screwdriver

(3)  Mini screwdriver

(1)  Set of mini files w detachable handle

(8)  Large files

(1) Small brush file

(2)  Box cutters

(6) Staplers and staples

(4)  Staple removers

(6)  Pair of scissors





(1)  Trash Bags – 42 Gallon

(1)  Trash Bags – 32 Gallon Lawn and Leaf

(1) Trash Bags – Open bag of Lawn and Leaf Bags

(1)  Trash Bag – 33 Gallon – Hefty Cinch Sac

(2)  Trash Bags – 100 Tall Kitchen Bags

(1)  Trash Bags – 50 Gallon - trash bags – more bags in box 5 assorted sizes

(1)  Box of hefty 30 bags – 39 Gallon




(12)  Aluminum Foil

(5)  Plastic wrap

(1)  Open plastic wrap

(4)  Boxes of pleated sandwich bags

(1)  Open box of sandwich bags




(5)  Sewing kits

(2)  Packages of safety pins

(2)  Boxes of 100 push pins each

(2)  Boxes of straight pins (2) packages of straight pins

(1)  Package of elastic cords

(1)  Bag of assorted Velcro



(2)  Packages of 120 paper clips each

(2)  Large bags of rubber bands – assorted size and color

(4)  Rolls of banner paper



(6)  Packages of jumbo craft sticks

(6)  Packages of twist ties – all sizes

(2)  Bag of cotton balls

(2)  Bags of brightly colored pipe cleaners



(1)  Large package of mixed household hardware

(1)  Packet of mixed screws

(1)  Large package of mixed hardware, hooks, ect

(1)  Wire, nail and brad assortment

(1)  Cabinet and wood mixed box

(2)  Packages of wood Madera flat brass

(1)  Box of extended wood screws

(1)  Box of exterior wood screws

(3)  Knobs

(9)  Springs

(1)  Large box of mixed hardware, brads, hooks, handles, ect




(1)  Large krazy glue (2) mini krazy glues

(7)  Tubes super glue

(7)  Glue sticks

(1)  Quick dry gorilla glue

(2)  Elmer’s white glue

(2)  Wood glues

(1)  Large super glue




(4)  Rolls of magic scotch tape

(2)  Rolls of masking tape

(1)  Large roll of double sided tape - tape – more in supplies box 6 – various kinds

(8)  Rolls of duck tape

(4)  Rolls of transparent tape




Tips for Designing Large Events

Posted on by Gordon Eby

In February 2010 Capgemini engaged with a pharmaceutical company to help organize their entire US sales force to prepare for the launch of a new drug. The final participant count for the session was 2,500 people and the facilitation team consisted of 77 knowledge workers and 22 facilitators. Here are a few things we learned about facilitating mega-events.


Parallel is the way to go. Divide the group into logical chunks and run each one independently in parallel. This gives each group the ability to adjust the time they need to do their work. Too much structure will ensure things get out of whack.


Self-capture when possible. The cost of properly supporting this many people is very daunting for the consumer, so in order to keep the costs down we had to limit the facilitation team in each room to one facilitator, one PF and two KWs. This worked because we had the participants do as much of the capture of their own sales plans as possible.


Keep it simple and centralized. One of the most memorable aspects of this session was the complete implosion of an online tool that had been developed by a third-party vendor. Capgemini’s response and subsequent implementation of a simple Excel back-up plan really saved the day in this instance. This reminds us all to keep it simple, especially when dealing with large groups. In addition, another thing that helped us manage such a large group was to centrally project all assignments and inputs and have the facilitator manage communicating them to the groups in each room.


Know your partners and over-communicate with them. Mega-events come with many cooks in the kitchen, and working well with the event planners and production companies that are involved is very important. Capgemini’s role in the planning of this event became providing structured communication and planning among the vendors in order to ensure the session was successful.


Leave lots of time for questions. Quadruple the amount of time you think you’ll need to answer the questions the facilitation team will have. We are all very inquisitive people by nature and are used to having a high-level of knowledge about the events that we do. When the information is concentrated in just a couple of ‘lead’ people there needs to be a lot of time set aside to go over in detail the proceedings and procedures for the event. It’s only fair to the  teams in each room to spend a lot of time on this.


I hope this was interesting. As you no doubt noticed there is nothing earth-shatteringly brilliant here. Facilitating huge events is more about getting the balance or formula right. I would love to hear about any tips and tricks that others have used to facilitate mega-events.

Cartoons for Better Collaboration

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Scribing/visual facilitation/graphic recording is one of the best ways to create group synergies, common understandings, visuals for clarity and progression forward.

A slight tangent on graphic facilitation is the pure-play use of cartoons. Jesse van Vraagje is one of the most experienced cartoonists in Europe as well as on the of best real time cartoon makers during collaborative events.

Watch this video of him creating cartoons during a synthesis conversation:

Cartoons for Collaboration from Brandon Klein on Vimeo.

NPR, Android, A Scribe of Our Own

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Heather Willems and Nora Herting run Imagethink. They would never brag about this here, but I think it is pretty impressive, and only represents a piece of what they have been working on.

Heather scribed in the new TV Commercial for NPR that advertises for their new Google Android Application. Here's the video:

NPR Android app promo from Small Mammal on Vimeo.

Whiteyboard, Like IdeaPaint, But Portable & Inexpensive

Posted on by Ben Cikanek

IdeaPaint might be one of the best inventions for "meeting spaces" (conference rooms.) But there is a new small player on the market: Whiteyboard. As the founders put it:

"WhiteyBoard was born in 2010 to attack one major problem; Heavy, Expensive Dry Erase Boards. With our team of chemists, we came up with an ultra inexpensive white board that sticks on to any wall, weighs less than 2 pounds and gets you working in seconds. No installation, no heavy lifting, no breaking the bank. WhiteyBoard is already being used in hundreds of offices, classrooms, and kids rooms around the US."

Watch it in action below. Then buy some.

Building a Bigger Better Breakout with Kinetic Energies Walls

Posted on by Andy Lloyd

Kinetic Energies Wall Solution is used often in mobile collaborative events. It is an excellent solution for many of us. If you rent directly from Kinetic, it comes in large card board boxes that need to be stored during the session. Don't know if this is a brand new concept but during my last event the team created more space to collaborate and bigger breakouts to fit the conference center tables.

It's an easy cost effective way to increase the useable space in a session and add a richness to the breakout. The only downside is the dividers aren't very mobile, so you'll need to think through transistions if you need a wide open space for any of your modules.

Supplies Needed –  The wall shipping boxes, clear packing tape, a roll of butcher paper, some heavy duty foam core, and a few nice green plants.

Uses – Break out plaques, Assignment posting, extra writing space, and a great sound barrier between breakouts.

Here are a few pictures of the solution:



Let's Not Be In Replica Mode

Posted on by Victoria Garza

Having just finished a collaboration event in Chicago, IL for XYZ--I'm strikingly reminded what's really important in collaboration design and execution, and how little patience I have for the small crap.
With a classic three-day design (ala ABC Company style, but with JKL Company) and a seasoned facilitator--I'm always wondering what we can do differently. If you can always plug and play it, then maybe there is something lacking....hmmm.
Some random notes:
-  The right supplies matter (unless you change the scope)
-  The right technology matters (unless you change the scope)
-  "Classic" can be meaningful or a frustrating waste of time and effort (again, depending on the scope)
-  Innovation requires changing your thoughts (and the scope)...
Do you get the trend here? I'm tired of being a robot dressed up like a consultant expected to do what we did a decade ago when the future of collaboration seems to be changing. Does anyone else feel it? iPAD's in breakouts is amazing! Times are changing fast. Hoping to inspire a discussion of what collaboration work is and what it can do--both now and in the future.

Circle Up: iPads, Marshmallow Module and More

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Robert Beals, Robin Brooking, Drew Dernavich, Jonah Evans, Rob Evans, Brandon Klein & Ryan Romsey (aka The Reverand)


iPad Experience Notes (8 iPads were put in each breakout for the duration of the event): 

- Unless seamlessly linked to all event pieces, it would have been a failure
- The way the iPad is introduced by facilitator is very important; think 'business tool' not 'toy' or 'check my email-cool'. Krew also needs  to participants toward appropriate use
- Still has limitations. For example, it can't play video of session recordings (regardless of format.) Don't post video until after session
- No need for breakout books or input printings. Participants can see it all on the iPad
- At least one iPad per breakout is ideal
- Forces 'journal' to be real time. All capture processes and methodologies need to be rethought. AKA every report out tile/wall/input etc. needs to be on the iPad by the time the participants re-enter their break outs
- Nomenclature/naming conventions of all files (tiles, walls, assignments,inputs...) need to be rethought. Everything has to be 100% understandable by the client. Think not by Mod but by Time and Experience
- System settings, apps, etc. need to be locked down/turned off- Many, many other uses are possible. For example survey of participants,direct response... we only just tapped the possibilities on this first event.
- Many potential pitfalls along the way!- How do you plan for technology obsolescence as Apple/others introduce new technology?


Marshmallow Exercise (New Module):

First a quick summary:"The Marshmallow Challenge is a remarkably fun and instructive design exercise that encourages teams to experience simple but profound lessons in collaboration, innovation and creativity. The task is simple: in eighteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top."Here are the instructions. And here is a ready to use DesignShop style Assignment (MS Word Doc- just add a header.) View the TED talk about it here:


- "Great" collaboration exercise
- Showing TED talk after participant debrief was fantastic. Everyone was glued to the TV and it closed out the module perfectly
- You can think of it as 'Inventions' for a 1/2 day event
- Buy proper 3M tape, anything else doesn't hold the structures together(participants that got generic tape called it 'Halliburton Tape')
- Create a hypertile scorecard to measure each teams height. Raises intensity of game
- Publish the time left on a screen so people can check in on exactly the amount of time they have left
- Don't stop teams from spying on each other. One team finished with 8minutes to spare, looked at other teams, started over and ended up winning the game
- Have a prize at the end. Winning team each got $100 gift certificates and were also asked to lead a team to take the event output forward!


General Circle Up Notes:
- Client was 'stunned' even the few E&Y folks who are familiar with DesignShops (Rob won a bottle of Scotch for doing the FRO in <1 hour)
- Communication between roles wasn't great. With 9 breakouts and a couple <15 minute transitions, things got a little dicey. Client didn't notice, but clearer command chain would have helped
- Inputs were continually handed off. With hundreds of inputs, one point of reference throughout would have made a big difference
- Everyone on the team is highly experienced. How do we make room for training new/less experienced people on the fundamentals of our job, especially as tech and input/output change dramatically?
- One person from krew joined a day late. This should never be done
- Hypertiles should be in the space (like lost-and-found) "Can you get me a hypertile?" is a silly request for participants to make!
- Have client provide "shadow" employees
- Krew Skype call before event to share complexities and get everyone prepared would be a great 'best practice'

Jonah: Bathroom break took 2:12
Brandon: Bathroom break took 2:51
Beers consumed: 14


A Guide To Better Panel Discussions

Posted on by Brandon Klein

To discuss panels and content or have panels discuss?

To incorporate the audience or let them incorporate their Blackberry's? Welcome to the Panel Discussion 2.0 guide.


Panel discussions have remained largely unchanged. Familiar scene: People sitting, twiddling their thumbs, waiting for the part of the agenda where they can ask their question or meet the person that drew them to the discussion in the first place. Thumbs were eventually traded in for PDA's. And now, participants actually carry on a separate panel discussions themselves without the panelists through Twitter (using # tags) or Google Wave (article about recent conference where all participants were given Google Wave accounts to discuss and collaborate around the conference).  

The first task of a successful panel discussion is knowing when you should change the format. Below are some great guides if you want to play it safe. Read on if you would like to be a part of Panel Discussions 2.0!

12 Guidelines for Great Panel Discussions by Scott Kirsner
How to Be a Great Moderator and How to Kick Butt on a Panel, by Guy Kawasaki
10 Rules for Being a Great Panel Moderator, by Paul Kedrosky
Panels, in moderation, by Sarah Weinman
How to Moderate a Lively Panel Discussion (PDF), interview with Steve Adubato
10 Commandments of Panel Discussion by Doug Johnson

You can even read a whole book about panel discussions on Google Reader: Panel Discussions: design in sequential art storytelling


1.) Define the objectives 

- Defining objectives is not fully realized when you decide on a topic, select a location and determine who the speakers are. The more time you put into specifically defining the purpose, outputs, and the discussions you want participants to continue long after the panel has ended, the more your attendees will get out of it. The days of sit, get and forget are over.  
- Sponsors should be selected to align with overall objectives and included in discussions finalizing the takeaways of the session
- Display the objectives to all the sponsors and continually refine them up until the day of the event.  

2.) What TWO people does everyone have to hear? 
- Chances are, every person attending the meeting/conference is there to hear one person talk (possibly two). 
- Understanding that people will likely leave after participating in the portion of the session that drew them in, it's important to know who everyone wants to hear and break up the schedule accordingly. Have one keynote speaker in the morning and one in the afternoon. Make the rest of the day interactive with the remaining speakers/presenters and relevant expert attendees.  

3.) What FORMAT should I use now that there is so much more 'interactive' time? 
- First, don't be afraid. Everyone goes to countless meetings and conferences. They all expect to sit in a crowded room and look at slides all day. They don't want to, but they are all conditioned to accept the status quo. If you change the format and do it right, there will never, ever be a complaint. Especially since you will be enabling them to spend more time with the person they came there to see. 
- Second, divide up the day. Don't just use one format. If your meeting is a day or a week, 500 or 15 people, change the format throughout the day. It will refresh and energize everyone. 

Here are some options:

- There is a strong compulsion by every event organizer that everyone must sit together to see the content or PowerPoint presentations. This is simply not true. Not everyone needs to see every presentation.
- More importantly, most people just want to take part in a couple of conversations.
- Even more importantly, most people want to be able to ask questions of the presenter to truly delve into the topic.
- Therefore, divide the presenters/speakers into different breakout areas or rooms.
- Then do 2-4 rounds of the same presentation in each area. The visitors/participants then choose which presenter they want to see.
- Put an equal number of chairs in each presenters area. If the room is full, the participants must find another room to visit. They can return to the one they want in the next round.
- Presenters will initially complain that they have to give the same presentation over and over. GUARANTEED; they will never bring this up again. Because they become 'conversations' and not presentations, the presenters get just as much out of the conversation as the participants. The presenters also refine their presentation each time so that they can hit the key points of their presentation in the first few minutes and then have an increasingly more valuable conversation for the rest of their 'presentation' time.
- After each session is over, bring everyone together back in the main presentation area. Have a brief discussion of learnings.
- After 15 years of doing this, not once has anyone ever said- "Oh, I wish we had just sat for 2.5 hours and listened to PowerPoint instead."
- Here is an example assignment to get people moving around to the different presentations/conversations.
- If content is necessary for the presentation/discussion, make sure that it is large, easily read and very concise. Use the picture below as a reference for a 'good' amount of content for 20-30 minutes of discussion.  

- By creating a panel at the front of a room, especially with a table in front of them, it creates a barrier. It may not be a big barrier, but it is a clear delineation of space and differentiator of the 'panelists' versus the 'participants'.
- This barrier can be over come by creating a 'fishbowl'. Although many people think initially think it is strange because some of the panelists have their back to participants, in the end it is much more personable.
- On average, each person is sitting 1/3 closer to the speakers.
- The panelists have a real and much more candid conversation with the other panelists or moderator, because they are actually facing each other and not feigning a conversation positioned along a line/table at the front of the room.
- Because of the more intimate situation, speakers/panelists are much more open to questions and usually answer in a more natural, honest fashion.
- Put the panelists on raised cocktail chairs with one mini-table between each one. The audience will literally feel like they get to listen in on the best cocktail networking discussion.   


- Named after the famed John Kotter; have the attendees break up into groups of 3 or 4.  
- The small groups then discuss what they just heard, what they want to hear, what questions they desire, a reflection etc. 
- For maximum effectiveness, each small group should be given a clip-board with an assignment on it that tells them exactly what to do. 

- Perhaps a little taboo, but once people get their meals, they sit at a table and chit chat. Why not get them to constructively engage over a few bites?
- There are countless activities they can do over lunch, or better yet, they just continue their last breakout work.
- If you are serving a buffet lunch, make it have two sides- the line will go twice as quickly. 
- If there is any work that can be displayed during lunch, put it up, it is the easiest conversation starter. 
- Serve boxed lunches so people can eat on their laps.
- Don't use metal cutlery if work continues over lunch, the clanking is to distracting.  

- Chances are the environment isn't very exciting. You are lucky if it is.
- Does it have air walls? What is the hotel policy for using pins to put up flip charts or photos?
- Does it have windows or walls where you can put up cling sheets and write on them. Use cling sheets (Sam's Club link.)
- Do you have a photographer and color printer. People won't look at printed content, brochures or sales material, but they will look at pictures of each other next to the material, which might inspire them to look at the documents you want them to.
Sita Magnuson scribing on Cling Paper on a window 

5.) Interactive Breaks 

- By far the simplest morning exercise that is mildly creative, but hugely informative, is the Business Card Assignment. You simply hand people a 1-page piece of paper with half of it asking for them to draw a self portrait, and the other half, their Name, Title and one or two questions that would bring something interesting about their background out and perhaps their vision of the work that is being addressed on the day.
- This filled in piece of paper then serves several purposes. If people share their e-mail address, than it acts as a contact database for participants to share digits and work together in the future. If put up on the walls near the coffee machine or breakouts/content, it serves as a discussion ice breaker. It enables information that normally wouldn't be shared to come out, creating richer, more meaningful conversations.  
- Click here to download a PowerPoint template that you can use to create your own Business Card Assignment. 
- There are plenty more options for morning breaks. The Collaboration King team is working on a Mind Map of Activity Possibilities, much like our Mind Map of Collaboration Companies.  

6.) The use/non-use of breakouts
- Although it is inconceivable to consider a days meeting, conference, forum, event of any sort with out some sort of small group activity, sometimes it isn't appropriate. 
- It is only inappropriate if it is less than 3 hours. Long term research show that the smaller the individual group connections, the greater the benefit for all participants in the long run. A speech or keynote or panel discussion rarely makes a sale or changes anything. A group of 8 or a connection between 3-4 people in a small break-out can make a lasting difference. 
- Even if the discussion is less than 3 hours, consider using the Kotter Groups as listed above to create some more dialogue.  

7.) Being prepared
- This should be obvious, but if you aren't prepared, just fake it.
- Keeping people, speakers etc. on time gives the sense of organization.
- Have consistent color or artistic design on every piece of material participants see or touch.
- Have signs pointing out the critical information. Contact numbers, bathrooms, escapes...  

8.) Name tags
- Every panel discussion of any size almost always requires name tags. But, 99% of name tags are drastically wrong.
- Make people's first names- HUGE. They should be the width of the whole tag. There is nothing worse than meeting someone for the first, second, or especially 10th time and have to stare at their chest to remember their name! If a persons title or company is important, make that bigger as well. 
- Use colors- a different name tag for the different types of people in attendance. One for support staff, one for people from Company X and one for Company Y. 
- BUT Don't use colors- if you are trying to break down barriers, don't put up a visible color separating people that you ultimately want to work together happily.  

9.) Be Visual
- Use a Graphic Facilitator. If you don't already know what this is, read the Collaboration King write-up. It is invaluable to any panel discussion, and you will receive as many compliments about the scribe as you will about the panelists. 
- Use a photographer. People love to see themselves.  "In any business, sex sells. In our business pictures of people working is sex. 80% of people won't look at your panels/flip chart/notes/PowerPoint output etc. but if they think their photo is going to be online, you can bet they will look at your work." Isa Olmstead
- Use a printer. Use the walls. Anything that is created visually during the panel discussion- immediately put it up around the space that you are in. This real-time interaction will impress any crowd and add to their overall experience of the day. 

10.) Don't hide from technology
- Unless you are going to buy a cell phone jamming device, don't even try. 
- If you have a relatively small group, it is partially possible to remove technology interferance. Use a back of closet Shoe Hanger ($15,holds 20 phones) to have people store their phones in. Or use a Metal Detector ($600 and portable) 
-  You must have the main sponsor/organizer/president etc. turn his/her devices off in front of the crowd to set a pattern that technology hinders collaboration.  

11.) Embrace technology
- If you are going to allow technology, embrace and introduce it before it has the chance to consume you. Use Twitter # Tags. Blog Progress. Incorporate pictures where possible.
- Use Google Wave to document the conference and interact with participants as the session develops. Here is an example of it in use at a conference
- Use text message and Twitter voting technology to incorporate real-time feedback like Poll Everywhere.   

12.) Actionable Output and Deliverables
- If you have incorporated technology into your panel/discussion/event your output should be pretty easy. Packaging it and delivering it in a useful manner is the difficult part.
- It is an incredible waste of follow up connections, feedback and future opportunities to not stay in touch with your participants by sharing the work that they produced back with them.
- When you make the material available, make it collaborative and connectable to audience members going forward. See our list of collaborative software if you need ideas on what to share your work with.  

The Next Development of Capture Deliverables

Posted on by Ben Cikanek

Photo by jc/pics

Once upon a time, knowledge collaboration took the form of hand written notes carried in 20lb bags on the backs of Pony Express riders.

Once upon a time, knowledge workers didn't have any technology except a desktop computer with Microsoft Works or Corel DRAW.

Fast forward to today, and somehow, knowledge working has become akin to technology slavery. We focus on technology improvements and short term client requests instead of delivering a better client experience.

We need to re-shift our deliverables focus to be client centered, not tool centered. 

We focus on products and technologies like Pixid Whiteboard to make our job better or easier. We jump at the latest digital camera that will enable less blur, we look to new programs or Dreamweaver Extensions like Project VII to make our 'journals' or websites prettier or have less clicks.

We even go so far as to think someday we will have a whiteboard in every breakout that you can just press a button and the image will be delivered to the radiant room and a printer and everyone's PDA. 

All of this is non-sense. It completely misses the point. We are delivering knowledge work to facilitate the clients objectives. We need to make this as easy and seamless as possible, and increasingly today, as economic as possible. 

Here are my thoughts, experiences with a variety of Capture Deliverables:

1- The long tail of capture

It would have been incredibly entertaining if a client asked us to 'shoot a wall' 10 years ago. For the sake of security (fear), and because of client knowledge, it is becoming more standard to shoot every wall that any person writes on in any place in the environment. I only have the analytics on journal usage over the last 2 years, but they tell a pretty compelling story: walls are downloaded .001% of the time (people photos represent over 90% of all activity). Essentially, the long tail of capture in case a client needs a wall is almost completely a waste of time on all but 1 in 1,000 events. Yes, that 1 event has happened to me, but more time was spent trying to find the exact wall than what could have been solved by having a 5 minutes conversation with the client. Once again, making the case for shooting every wall for every module virtually worthless. I agree it gives the client a sense of comfort, but perhaps and at best, these walls should be burned to a DVD and never enter an actual capture deliverable. They just confuse the output. 

2- The digitization of output

Once upon a time, we would transcribe walls onto paper and then pass it out. Once upon a time, the back of the napkin yielded magic. Now we just snap a photo and are done. The ironic part is that we don't utilize this simplification of data. Check out the video above. Two programs automate production and actually make the output more useable.

a.) JotNot is an App for the iPhone and iPod touch that whiteboards photos. No hiding behind a camera, connecting it to a computer and then following all the other steps.

b.) Evernote translates all text on any whiteboard or flip chart or napkin into searchable text. Yes, searchable, printable, useable whiteboards. 

c.) There are lots of other programs out there aimed directly at what you are trying to do. I list these because they work on mobile devices and on regular Mac's or PC's. 

d.) For the sake of argument (I only use this with some clients...) why do we as facilitators need to do the capture at all? Almost every participant has a camera on them. Put an e-mail address at the top of every breakout. Have them snap a picture and e-mail it to whoever is managing all the content. Better yet, have them e-mail it to one of the applications above. They all provide e-mail addresses to input data. They even offer multiple addresses for each breakout room. Self organizing deliverables. Not bad! If you don't want to use a specific program, the biggest Wiki/Blog programs offer e-mail addresses for content submission... Wikispaces, Wetpaint, Wordpress, Blogger etc. Flickr is also great for this! There are literally hundreds of options/Apps/programs- explore what is best for your specific clients. 

3- Bank online, why not deliverables? 

The idea that content is not secure online and should therefore be delivered on discs is so ludicrous, it is hard to imagine anyone with a straight face could make that argument anymore (I know, they do, but merely out of fear). Ironically, 20% of new laptops don't even have a CD/DVD drive. 

So how do you deliver your output online? There are countless companies out there right now working to make this as simple as possible for you. They are simple, incredibly fast and requires no manual-rework. NOTE: The most important factor to consider when choosing and online service is the manual labor involved. If you ever have to resize an image, create a different display format, offer any instructions to the client, than the program is WRONG. Everything should be automated. I strongly encourage use of programs that have open API's so that other programs can build off of them. For example works with everyone from LinkedIn to Picnik. Please see the list of software that you might find helpful in choosing an application that will work for you. I have lists of dozens of others. If you would like to see it, please send me an e-mail. 

4- The automation of previously manual work (hint: OUTSOURCING) 

I recognize that this is a little controversial, but much of knowledge work is actually just data entry. There is no reason or justification for skilled employees to get their day rate for this type of work. It should be outsourced. If walls or templates or tiles need to be typed in, simply make the photos accessible to your team in the developing world working for $4 to $12 an hour depending on the skill level of work required. There is already an article on Collaboration King about how to utilize this. See Hiring from Beyond Your Desk: ODesk. If you need personal references and aren't comfortable hiring directly online, I am always happy to recommend who I use. Here is a link to do a search to find your first virtual employee/solution:

The On Demand Global Workforce - oDesk

5- The shift back to knowledge work

- Almost every camera on the market has the ability to print directly to the printer in your environment. Why are we quadrupling knowledge working time by thinking everything needs to be wired.  

- Why are we spending hours making name tags and team lists. Several programs automate this. Check out the seating chart function on (registration required) RegOnline offers countless services for every sized event. 

- Why do we spend hours designing graphics when we could be helping teams achieve their purpose for being there with you in the first place. Here are auto graphic generators. And why not crowdsource themes and full design documents (my favorite is CrowdSpring

- Why don't we focus on simplicity and client ease of use. The relatively Adobe Acrobat (PDF 9) will create a journal or website or interactive document with a simple drag and drop. 

- There are lots of companies that make products directed just at us. From fully electronic white boards to facilitator kits in a box. These are definitely more than just gimmicks, and as much as I want to be John King on CNN with my own personal touch wall, it is mere fantasy for our work in the next several years. Don't even try! 

- If you still hold strong to building a CD/DVD/Wiki/HTML based journal, why not have it created automatically? DIMIN is a PC program that will do what would take you an entire event to do in Dreamweaver... in 5 minutes. It works off the folder structure you create to store all the same materials you would store for a Dreamweaver/Wiki/Website journal. You can then customize the look and feel to make it look more like a traditional journal. If anyone is interested, the programmer for this application would happily take donations to customize the software to work more closely with event journals. 


In closing, and most importantly, create the most appropriate deliverable for exactly what the client needs. Most of the time, clients have very sophisticated content and collaboration management software that you can input the event materials so that the clients will use the output more often and hire you again.

WD-40 White Board Ghost Remover - Collaborative Equipment #001

Posted on by Tom Kehner


Tired of doing graphic scribing and synthesis on white boards that have ugly “marker ghosts” from years of poor care?  Tried everything under the sun to remove those ghosts, only to make them worse and/or permanently damage the writing surface?  Help has arrived!  Look no further than WD40 (, the world’s most versatile product with more than 2000 uses.  That’s right ... Its a squeak fixer, a rust inhibitor, a grease & grime cleaner, and a white board marker ghost remover.  Just lightly coat the problem area on your white board surface and immediately wipe clean with a soft cloth.  Follow up a few minutes later with your normal white board cleaner to finish the job, and then stand back and admire your ghost free writing surface.

And if you ever wondered what's inside WD-40, there is a great article about it in Wired Magazine

Mission Statements: Automatic or Inspirational

Posted on by Bill Burck

Strategy Collaboration sessions usually meet all of Stephen R. Covey's requirements for creating empowering Mission Statements:

- Enough People
- Fully informed
- Interacting freely and synergistic ally
- In an environment of high trust

He says all company's Mission Statements will contain the same basic principles and values which cover the four dimensions and needs of life:
- Physical/economic
- Mental
- Emotional
- Spiritual

As Nancy Lublin points out in Fast Company:

"Mission statements are like corporate Hallmark cards. Often written in a bland cursive font and plastered conspicuously at headquarters, these aspiring epigrams are pretty words in Air Supply -- like rhythm. Sometimes they're created at a retreat in the woods, between the trust fall and the passing of the speaking stick. Vigorous fights over semantics last for hours, even months. Then you end up with some variation of the jargony quasi-poetry above.

The phrase "big hairy audacious goal" (or BHAG) was first proposed by James Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book Built to Last. They say a BHAG is "clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort, often creating immense team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal .... A BHAG should not be a sure bet ... but the organization must believe 'we can do it anyway.'

Microsoft came up with probably the most well-known BHAG, "A computer on every desk and in every home, all running Microsoft software." Amazon has a great one for its Kindle, too: "Every book ever printed, in any language, all available in less than 60 seconds."

Both statements do something crucial: They quantify the goal. Microsoft doesn't just want to sell software -- it wants its software on every computer, in every home. Amazon doesn't just want you to buy a book; it wants to help you do so in under one minute.

Most companies aren't so successful at laying out their goals (or, obviously, at execution). And in my experience, not-for-profits are especially awful at creating BHAGs with clear targets, preferring warm, fuzzy words that have all the gloss of inspiration and none of the soul and drive of the real thing." 


Almost all large, strategy collaborative sessions end with a Mission Statement created by the clients. These are often rushed and adapted post-session by the clients even though they meet many of Dr. Coveys requirements. 

Here is an assignment to get you clients thinking about how to create their own powerful Mission Statement:

Click icon to download MS Word Read, Dialogue Apply Assignment

And if you don't have enough time during your collaboration session, check out automatic Mission Statement Generators as well:

Evil Genius Mission Statement Generator 2.0 (more applicable to teams than clients)
My Evil Genius Mission Statement
Mission Statement
To take over the world's most valuable vegetable using nuclear powered iPods.

Facilitation Tools: Spice-Up a Transition with "New Personality Research"

Posted on by Tom Kehner

Is your participant group in need of a little energy boost?  Want to add some fun to a specific transition within your facilitated session?  Tired of using the same, old, boring, facilitation stuff, like "everyone stand up and stretch?"  Here's a quick, collaborative and fun transition tool that always gets a laugh and serves to re-engage participants.

If you're familiar with the Myers-Briggs "Preferences Test" (different from the full assessment instrument), you already know most of what you need to know.  The basic "Preferences Test" is to simply ask people to fold their hands with alternating fingers interlocked.  Everyone will naturally end up with either their right thumb or their left thumb on top.  Then, participants are asked to change their interlocked fingers so that the "other" thumb ends up on top.  The ensuing discussion in the Myers-Briggs application is all about "preferences" and how neither way is "wrong," just "different."  This is typically used in Myers-Briggs talks, so generally their is a significant number of participants who are familiar with this test.

This transition suggestion is a slight variation of the Myers-Briggs interlocked fingers test.  With a big smile, a fun disposition, and positive posture, have your participants shake out their hands, do a little stretch, and then bring their hands together with interlocking fingers.  Briefly reference the Myers-Briggs "Preferences Test" and then reveal that NEW PERSONALITY RESEARCH is now available regarding preferences.

Have people raise their hand if their RIGHT thumb was on top.  Announce that new research indicates that these people are INCREDIBLE THINKERS.  Let this group hoop and hollar it up.

Have people raise their hand if their LEFT thumb was on top.  Announce that new research indicates that these people are AMAZINGLY SEXY.  Let this group hoop and hollar it up.

Then, give the participants a chance to bring their hands together with interlocking fingers one last time.  Ask if anyone has both thumbs next to one another (several always do!!).  Announce that new research indicates that these people THINK they are AMAZINGLY SEXY.

Have fun with it !!