Object of Play
The object of this game is to quickly diagnose a group’s level of understanding of the steps in a process.
Often, there is a sense of confusion about who does what and when. The team is using different terms to describe their process. The group has no documented process. Things seem to be happening in an ad hoc fashion, invisibly, or by chance.
Through this exercise, the group will define an existing process at a high level and uncover areas of confusion or misunderstanding. In most cases, this can flow naturally into a discussion of what to do about those unclear areas. This exercise will not generally result in a new or better process but rather a better understanding of the current one.
Number of Players
Duration of Play
30 minutes to 1 hour
How to Play
Introduce the exercise by framing the objective: “This is a group activity, where we will create a picture of how we create [x].” X in this case is the output of the process; it maybe a document, a product, an agreement, or the like. Write or draw the output of the process on the wall.
Establish a common starting point of the process with the group. This could sound like “the beginning of the day” or “the start of a quarter” or “after we finished the last one.” This is the trigger or triggers that kick off the process. If you believe the group will have a hard time with this simple step, decide it for them in advance and present it as a best guess. Write this step on a sticky note, put it on the wall, and then proceed with the exercise.
- Instruct participants to think about the process from beginning to end. Then give them the task: write down the steps in the process. They can use as many notes as they like, but each step must be a separate note.
- After the participants have brainstormed their version of the steps, ask them to come up to the wall and post them to compare. The group should place their steps above and below one another’s so that they can compare their versions of steps 1, 2, and so on.
- Prompt the group to find points of agreement and confusion. Look for terminology problems, where participants may be using different words to describe the same step. Points of confusion may surface where “something magical happens” or no one is really clear on a step.
The group will draw their own conclusions about what the different versions of the process mean and what they can or should do about it.
For a larger group, you may want to avoid individual readouts and instead have people post up simultaneously.
If you sense in advance that the group will get caught up in the details, ask them to produce a limited number of steps—try 10.
The Post the Path game is credited to James Macanufo.