The goal of this exercise is to quickly create a visual overview of the work your group is doing. This can be a great way to facilitate networking at the beginning of a coalition event, or it can be a nice way to get caught up on the work your organization is doing.
By creating a visual representation of the work, it also helps diagnose gaps in our work and to ID areas where the most energy is going. Is the work we’re actually doing reflective of our mission and goals?
Step One: Create 5-10 “categories of work” the group does – these are most useful when specific to the group. With bold, visible writing, create a heading for each category and space evenly across a wall.
- Some sample categories: Media, Organizing, Grassroots Fundraising, Speaking tours, Bird-dogging officials, Making art, Admin, Water Testing, Volunteer Coordinating, Admin, etc. You can name key projects of your organization as well. Make sure to include an “Other” category
Step Two: Give folks two (or more) colors of sticky notes.
- Color One: Work I am doing. Put one type/area of work per post-it and add your name/org/location to each sticky.
- Color Two: Work I want to see happen and want to start. This category can be especially helpful for networking – because there is a good chance someone in the room is already doing it!
- More Colors: (You can add more colors as appropriate like “Work I don’t want to do but I think it is important and needs done” or “Work I want to learn more about/network with people doing this work”). If you are adding lots of colors, it’s helpful to create a visual guide to hang on the wall near your category headings. It can also be helpful to come up with a few example stickies do get folks started.
- Important to note: Put your name on every single note you stick up. If you are working in a large coalition, more contact info encourages networking. In a tight-knit group, just a name is fine.
Folks take 10-15 minutes to write down the work they are doing and stick it on the wall under the appropriate categories when they are ready. They can chat or work quietly as they think of the work they are doing. Encourage folks to take a look at the wall and see if they remember any other work they are doing they want to add.
Step Three: Take a tour of our map. Then discuss what is on the wall. Any new connections or surprises? Is our work reflective of our priorities? What’s missing? Where is most of our energy going? Are there new headings that can be added? Is there tension here? Is the workload evenly distributed?
Next Steps: As the stickies are going up, the facilitator can keep an eye on the “Other” paper and add more categories for work that appears in “Other”.
This exercise can exist on its own as a relatively quick tool to get a visual reportback from the whole room as to what they are doing.
Or it can be a launching off point for more conversations. One next step from this can be to break into small groups based on the categories chosen, similar to an Open Space Technology. There may be interest in skill shares. There may also be a need to discuss distribution of work. It can be a good start when creating workplans or creating goals for what we want to accomplish in the future.
Facilitation/Agenda Flow Note: Because this work is self-directed and has folks moving around at their own pace for a good 20 minutes+, it can be done in lieu of a bathroom/coffee/smoke break – or if done right before the break, and can let you have a shorter break. Ta-daaa! Just be sure to let folks know/give permission to use the space/time in this capacity as well.
Other thoughts on this type of exercise?