On Monday, sixty people began their morning with physical stretching to get their bodies warmed up.
After quick introductions on why they were together and who they each were, they broke into predetermined groups for some mental stretching, using my favorite mental stretching exercise: Cognitive Edge’s The Future, Backwards.
The mental stretch was followed by a thinking break where each attendee was asked to select three actions they thought should immediately be taken within the topic they’d gathered to advance. Each attendee wrote their ideas on sticky notes, one sticky note per idea.
In their groups the attendees then shared their three ideas and matched like ideas with like. The groups then brought their ideas forward to a blank wall and gave their categories topic titles. As each group came forward they either combined their ideas into the previously posted topics or created more topics. In the end they had fourteen topics with 180 ideas nested underneath.
Next, the attendees were allowed two votes to spread amongst their two top topics that they felt must be addressed immediately.
Voting was quickly accomplished by simple tally marks on sticky notes next to the topic titles and the topics were quickly ranked one (the most votes) through fourteen (the least).
During a thinking break, the attendees were asked to consider if they would like to lead the effort in a topic area or become part of a team to address the topic area, or play a specialized role in making the topic area a success (e.g., historian to keep the records of the team’s work or chief enabler to remove organizational obstacles). Sign up sheets were posted at two locations in the room to spread the participants and eliminate pressure against volunteering merely because the paper had been filled with names.
The event organizer thanked everyone for their work and told them when the teams would be called into action. She dismissed the group after only 3.5 hours.
After the attendees departed, she had photographers capture images of the Future, Backwards maps, the posted notes of similarities, differences and surprises between the maps, and the 180 ideas nested under their topic titles. All those photos, plus the 28 (i.e., 2 sets of 14) team sign up sheets became her record of the morning’s work.
Now she’s ready to lead her teams into action and it took her and the 60 attendees less than half a work day.
I’d call that a rapid start-up. What do you think?
[Note: Yes this scenario did happen. Yes I facilitated it, but no, I’m not the event organizer. I was honored to help a friend move her topic forward. No I won’t tell you what topic they worked on. That doesn’t matter. This would work for any topic. Try it!]