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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.