A skit module evokes a strong creative response from participants. Instead of simply asking them to report the results of their work (which certainly places a demand upon them), we ask them to bring those results to life — to entertain.
In essence, this gives them permission to have fun with the problem. It also gives them permission to say all sorts of things that they might not find a way to say in a straight report out. This is what satire is all about — finding a way to bring difficult, politically-charged issues into public discourse.
Beyond that, skit modules also get participants working in the realm of fictional stories. (Sometimes, teams extend into other creative modes: songs, poems, even interpretive dances.)
Story is one of the dominant means by which cultures define themselves, pass on values, and work through differences. Stories can be stablilizing forces. They can also be engines of transformation. Stories involve and engage their audience in powerful ways, transmitting and imprinting their messages deeply into the subconscious. A skit module in an event helps to forge the new working culture of the participants and deepen their collective memory.
The work that teams have been doing before they begin the skit assignment ignites their skit stories. Once the story gets burning, however, it takes on a life of its own. Tension is provided by the need to keep that story grounded in the previous work.
This tension between the will of the story and the intention of the team is a dynamic and creative one. Key breakthroughs in thinking and strategy can come out in a skit module.
A moment from a skit module can have a galvanizing effect and become a rallying cry or dominant theme that surfaces again and again as the event unfolds and the group pursues its solution.
Skit modules like Legends and Time Capsule place participants in a future-state setting where success has been attained and they are recounting highlights of that success story.
Usually, each team will have worked on a separate body of work prior to receiving the skit module assignment. This assignment asks them to report out in the form of a skit. Depending on the module the assignment will either give them wide latitude in how they form their skit or it will give them specific instructions (e.g., Time Capsule, Ad Agency).
Often, costumes and props are made available. The teams then spend thirty to sixty minutes developing their skits. The space quickly fills with laughter and loud voices. If the skit module is the last module of the day, then the report out is held the following morning.
Critical Success Factors
Timing In Straw Dog. Skit modules are generally part of Scan. They are a good module to schedule at the end of the day (then reported out the following morning), but they also have worked well in the middle of the day. Because they are so much fun and energize the group, it is critical that the serious lessons of the skits be noted and mentioned by the facilitator. (In fact, this can be the basis for a debrief conversation after the skits are done.) The group should not be let off the hook. In fact, it is a good idea to follow a skit module with a round of work that is more serious in nature.
Good Work Upon Which To Build. The raison d'etre of a skit module must be to report out the results of an earlier round of work. Often, this is a reading module, but not necessarily (e.g., A Day In The Life). In fact, the Report Out In a Creative Way instructions could be given when you want to alter the energy and pattern of the event. But use skit modules with intention and understanding. This is a pivotal module.
The assignment for a skit module is an easy one to write. One assignment is all that is needed. The assignment need not be elaborate, though it can be if you feel the participants can use the extra framing and definition that an elaborate assignment provides.
Adapting existing examples. There are several examples provided here. They require minimal effort to adapt. Indeed, some can be used as is. As you get to know the participants early in the event, you may find it useful to revisit this assignment and subtly adjust the language and the instructions. It depends how much of a perfectionist you are. Of course, if you think it will make a difference, then it probably will...
Not much effort is needed to prepare for a skit module. There is no major transition to manage. The assignment is easily created. About all you need to do is decide how to handle props and costumes and make sure that this matches the instructions in the assignment.
In the case of a Time Capsule module, you may wish to create one or more boxes that teams can use for their time capsule skits.
Perhaps the biggest demand is in the area of music. Teams often want music or sound effects to enhance their skits.