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Bodystorming

Bodystorming the future of news

Object of Play
Bodystorming is simply brainstorming, but done with the body. It may look different depending on the preparations and location, but in the end all bodystorming is fundamentally about one thing: getting people to figure things out by trying things out. A group may explore one of the techniques described below to get their feet wet with bodystorming. They may move through them in order, from observing and learning to ideation and prototyping, although this is not a strict sequence. Each level of bodystorming will help break the pattern of analyzing ideas around a conference table and get people closer to developing things that will work in the real world.

How to Play
Bodystorming takes place in three phases.

Level 1: Go Observe
Go to the location to do your work. If you are developing an idea for a coffee shop, or a shopping mall, or a hospital, go there and do your work as you would normally. The environment will present idea cues and authentic information that would never emerge from conference room brainstorming. For example, say a group is charged with improving the student experience on a college campus. Although they may conduct interviews or other research, they may start by
going to a few campus locations and “blending in” with the surroundings while going about their usual work. It’s important that the group not zero in on any specific analysis so that they will be open to the cues that the environment presents.

Level 2: Try It Out
Use role play and props to develop an idea. In this exercise, a group physically “acts out” an experience by using whatever they have on hand or can acquire. The group focuses on how they interact with each other, their surroundings, and makeshift artifacts, testing existing ideas and uncovering new ones. For example, say a small group is asked to “reimagine the evening news.” Using each other as the actors, the audience, the news anchors, and the television itself, they improvise a script that plays out the experience as they conceive it could be.

1. Identify and assign critical roles. For any experience, identifying the “customer” or “user” role is a good way to get started. This participant (or group of participants) becomes the focal point and main character of the bodystorm. Other critical roles will present themselves. “Who wants to be the Internet?” is not an uncommon question to hear.

2. Improvise the experience. Bodystorming is physical and progressive: as the group starts to put their thoughts into action, they will naturally ask simple and important questions by acting them out, often leading to the unexpected. For example, in the evening news scenario:

“OK, so how do you watch the evening news?”
“I don’t have a television. Also, I’m usually out jogging.”
“Oh. Do you have your phone on you?”
“Always. I’m listening to music.”
“OK, what if this happened… who wants to play the phone?”

In a completely improvised scenario, the group should keep in mind the principal rule of the game: building on each other’s inputs. “Yes, and…” will generate
more progress than “Yeah, but…” thinking. In some uses of bodystorming, a group will act out a script prepared in advance. In these cases, an equal amount of planning in props to build an environment is key. For example, if it’s a coffee shop, set up the counter and chairs. If it’s a park or outdoor area, strongly consider going there.

The BetaCup Bodystorming Session – Overlap 09 from the betacup on Vimeo.

Level 3: Reflect on What Happens, and Why
By enacting the experience, the participants will naturally explore new possibilities, and uncover flaws or assumptions about how an idea could work. This is valuable both in the process itself and afterward: by documenting the exercise on video, the participants may later “watch the reel” to discuss key points.

Strategy
Choose the right level of bodystorming at the right time for the group. Because bodystorming asks participants to take a big step away from the typical conference table mode of thinking, they may need to get comfortable with more structured sessions first, armed with scripts and specific roles, before stepping into complete improv. In all cases, the exercise itself will be more memorable than the customary problem-solving session, and will help generate empathy that comes from “embodying” the experience.

The term “bodystorming” was coined by Colin Burns at CHI ’94 In Boston, Massachusetts.

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Coriolis Effect

corporate team building

Materials:

  • One plastic pipe per person
  • One ball (bouncy ball, marble, wooden ball) per team
  • One team handout per team
  • One timer per group, one person on each time needs a timer function on their watch or a timer function on their cell phones (I have found that all groups have at least one person with a stop watch function on their cell phones)

Team Size:

4-15 people per/team

Objective:

Offers insights into the needs that different team members have for information and detail, how people like to work in either a structured or unstructured approach to problem solving and change, and how quickly and slowly people are willing to move ahead with a plan based on how much they know and understand about the solution.

Preparation:

Each team of 4-6 people will need sufficient space to spread and work independently of the other groups, if it is a nice day I always recommend going outside.

When the teams are established hand each team member one pipe per person and one to three balls per team, additionally hand each team one to two team handout sheets.

Instructions and Facilitator Script:

It is all on the team handouts.

Ensure that each team has a team handout – inform each group that they will have 30 minutes to develop the fastest and most efficient process to reach customer satisfaction and project completion. Following the 30 minutes of project time, you will ask the groups to review and answer the team processing questions on the back of the handout.

If the teams ask you (the facilitator) for clarification be a stickler and say, “everything you need to know is on the team handout; as long as you are following the guidelines set by the handout you are being successful.” This will annoy some people, just stick to the script.

Leadership Training Buffalo NY Univ. at Buffalo Womens Softball - Team Building Buffalo, NY

Coriolis Affect Team Handout.

Equipment: One team sheet, one gutter for each person on your team, 3 bouncy balls, one stopwatch, and a pen

(Do you have everything? Does it work?)

Time: You will have 25 minutes of project time, during the 25 minutes you may make as few and as many attempts as your team wishes.

Directions: Make a human circle then give each person a gutter (one gutter per person).

Hand the bouncy balls to the tallest person in the circle.

Assign a timer for the attempts – the timer is allowed to participate in the activity.

You are ready to begin.

Objective: Move one bouncy ball around the circle using only the gutters and following the guidelines, as quickly as possible.

Guidelines:

  • Starting with the tallest person use the gutters (and only the gutters) to transport one bouncy ball to the person to their left then all the way around and back to the tallest person.
  • Try to send the ball through the process as fast as you can, beginning and ending in the tallest persons gutter, here are the constraints;
  • No one’s gutter can be skipped, the ball must pass through all team members gutters
  • Gutters cannot touch each other
  • Gutter per person method – Your own pinkies must be touching each other all the time.
  • You cannot touch any other gutters besides your own
  • People cannot touch the ball as it travels from beginning through the process and back to the beginning.
  • If the ball falls from the gutter, the process must be restarted.

Coriolis Affect Team Processing Questions:

Directions: Choose a volunteer willing to read the questions and write some responses. Discuss as many of these questions as you can with your group in the time allowed. Jot down key responses in the margins. Be honest with yourself and others. Honesty will bring out understanding. Understanding will lead to learning.

Looking back on the activity, consider the idea of Communication.

1. Determine what types of communication took place during the activity.

2. In each of your opinions, which was the most powerful form of communication during the activity? What made them powerful?

3. What were some successful communication moments?

4. At what points were you having difficulty communicating?

5. What might each of you want to remember about communication?

Consider who is on the team & their talents…

1. What were some of the ideas that were generated?

2. How receptive was the group to new and different ideas?

3. How did you add structure to the ideas?

4. What were some of the roles that were proposed for people in this project?

5. Which ideas were seen as unrealistic / realistic? what made those ideas unrealistic / realistic?

6. Describe how the plan was developed and evaluated?

7. Explain the action steps of the project. Describe the results and outcomes of the action steps.

8. How do you feel about what was done? ideas for improvement?

9. What was the key moment in the teams’ success? where did the ideas come from? who was the ideas champions?

10. Where do you feel were the gaps in this project? how did or did you not work to fill those gaps?

If you have Time…

1. How mindful were you of your preferred team role?

2. Describe how that impacted your part in the project.

Michael Cardus is the founder of Create-Learning an experiential based consulting, facilitation, training and coaching organization. Leading to successful results in retention of staff talent, increased satisfaction with work, increased collaboration and information sharing within and between departments, increased accountability of success and failures, increased knowledge transfer, increased trust as well as speed of project completion and decision making of Leaders, Teams and Organizations.

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Image-ination

Object of Play: To generate new ideas about a topic you feel stuck on.

# of Players: 5-7 per group

Duration of Play: 15 minutes ‑ 1 hour

How to Play:

  1. Before the meeting, assemble a collection of photographs and images that do not contain words. You can cut them out of magazines, catalogs, or junk mail. Don’t look for pretty pictures; instead look for the widest variety of pictures. Try to collect 3-5 pictures per person.
  2. Put a large sheet of paper on the table; a piece of flip-chart paper is ideal. In the center, write out a one- to three-word description of the topic you want to generate new thinking around (e.g., Finding New Customers).
  3. Place the pictures face down around the edges of the paper.
  4. Give each person a pile of sticky notes or index cards.
  5. Tell the participants that the goal of the game is to encourage thinking as widely as possible. The idea is to go beyond what they already know. Demonstrate this by showing an image and quickly state several ways it relates to the topic.
  6. Have each participant randomly select an image, turn it over, and write on the sticky notes or index cards as many ideas as they can come up with about how the image relates or could relate to the topic. Ask each participant to put one idea on each note or card and put it on the flip-chart paper around the topic.
  7. Allow five minutes for participants to work silently. Have people select other images and repeat the process until you either run out of images or time.
  8. Ask the group to collect the notes and cards with all of the ideas and re-arrange the ideas in clusters that relate to each other. For each cluster, ask the group to find a photograph to illustrate the idea and create a short title for it. Write the title under the image.
  9. If you have more than one small group, ask each one to share the photos and titles of each of their clusters with the other groups.
  10. Have a conversation about how the titled photos can inform the groups’ thinking about the topic. Make a list of possible actions they could take in response to the ideas.

Strategy:

Images have the ability to spark insights and to create new associations and possible connections. Encourage people to allow themselves to free-associate and see potential new ideas. In this type of play, you are asking people to move back and forth between using their visual and verbal skills. When done in rapid succession, as in this game, this switching offers the possibility for more ideas and approaches to emerge.

When leading the game, some participants may need to be reassured that the goal is not to come up with a design or specific answer. Keeping Image-ination time frames short reduces this ability and requires people to allow associations to emerge from a less-considered space. After all, if what everyone was already thinking could readily solve the problem, the group would not feel stuck. The idea is to move beyond the stories people always tell and to surface something new and different.

You may hear that people can’t find the picture they want to describe their ideas. That’s actually a good sign! That “problem” actually means the participants have the creative opportunity to find another kind of association.

Imagine-ation is adapted from the Visual Icebreaker Kit, one of several image-based games and tools from VisualsSpeak. It is © 2010 VisualsSpeak LLC.

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Homepage Bingo

VTS Madrid

Object of play

Ranking selections can be quite boring sometimes. In this game, participants have to create the homepage of a product, service or organization’s website as if it was a bingo card – everyone needs to make quick decisions about what comes top, what comes last.

Number of players: Small groups

Duration of play: 30  minutes – 60 minutes

How to play

Prior to the game, prepare a sheet, like the one below.

1.  Before starting the game with the group, prepare a set of cards (post it notes are brilliant for this) with the attributes or features you want to rank. Give each participant a homepage frame and an identical set of cards – and keep one for yourself.

2. It is better if participants are seating around a table or another surface, but not too close to each other – they shouldn’t be seeing what is going on with their neighbor’s homepage.

3.  Like in a bingo, start calling out the cards in random order. You can give a brief explanation of what the card is, so there is a shared understanding, but be careful for not over-explaining some cards and accidentally attributing your own value to it!

4.  As you call out the cards, participants must decide where to place them on the homepage frame. The decision about what goes on top and what goes on the bottom is made on the fly.

Strategy

It will look messy in the beginning, as participants start pushing down – or out – cards they had given a lot of value in principle. Ask them to keep pushed out cards in a separate pile, so you can talk about it when the game is finished. The whole point is to make quick judgements about features. Illustrated cards are also fantastic for this game, as they take away the prejudice words can bring to concepts and leave more room for participants’ interpretation. After the bingo is over, you should have an ‘exhibition of homepages’ attaching the sheets to the wall and opening for discussion.

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Quaker Conversation

The collaboratory

It’s very easy for the dynamics of a group to undermine the potential value of bringing a group of people together. If the same people speak every time, there is always a contingent whose voices are not heard; in creative work, a perspective lost can mean valuable ideas are never heard and “group think” can set in. Getting the greatest diversity of ideas from a group can depend on making the space for as many viewpoints up front before the flow of conversation begins its process of natural selection, and conversation is a funny thing; setting a few rules can disrupt the habitual dynamic of the group to allow for different outcomes.

OBJECT of the GAME: To give all voices a chance to be represented in a group with a potentially wide range of perspectives.

HOW to PLAY:

The rules of the game are quite simple…

  1. Begin by posing a question to the group
  2. Each person answers the question in sequence – usually going around the circle, but if someone is not ready, they can defer their turn until later.
  3. Each person answers as fully as they need to in order to feel they’ve fully expressed their point of view.
  4. No one should respond to, rebut or rejoin the comments of others; each response should be only to the original question

Point number four can be a difficult one for many groups, but if gently enforced, it can really encourage the less vocal members of any group to voice their opinions. This can lead quite well into a follow-on conversation if someone has been recording some of the ideas or perspectives on a whiteboard. Using these elements as launching points allows for a more focused drill down on the ideas that may have resonated with the group.

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Show Me Your Values

NAME OF PLAY: Value Tease
Object of Play:
To unearth employee perception of the deep values that underly an organization, an initiative, a system-wide change, or any other topic.
# of Players: 5 – 10
Duration of Play: 30 minutes
How to Play:
Before the meeting, decide the topic around which you want players to share stories. Set-up a flat surface area in which you can write and they can post their images. Write the name of the topic in this area.
Provide the players with tape and several magazines of all genres—enough magazines for each player to rifle through three or four.
Tell the players that the goal of the exercise is twofold: First, they’ll describe in pictures what they perceive to be the values underlying the topic. Second, they’ll share a work-related story that’s indicative of those values. (Example: an image of a turtle may represent patience and longevity, so the player may share an anecdote in which an attractive but high-risk project was not pursued.)
Give everyone 10 minutes to cutout one or more images that represent their perception of the underlying values.
Ask them to tape their image(s) in the designated area and then quietly reflect on a story associated with the value(s) they represented.
Ask for volunteers to take turns sharing both their images and their associated story.
Pay attention as the players describe the values they perceive and write them in the space beside the appropriate image.
Go over the values you captured and ask the players to look for overlaps and gaps in their perception. Ask follow-up questions about the content and stories to generate further conversation. Let the group absorb and discuss the perceptions they share as well as those they don’t.

NAME OF PLAY: Show Me Your Values

Object of Play: To understand employee perception of the values that underly an organization, an initiative, a system-wide change, or any other topic.

# of Players: 5 – 10

Duration of Play: 30-45 minutes

How to Play:

  1. Before the meeting, decide the topic around which you want players to share stories. Set-up a flat surface area in which you can write and they can post their images. Write the name of the topic in this area.
  2. Provide the players with tape and several magazines of all genres—enough magazines for each player to rifle through three or four.
  3. Tell the players that the goal of the exercise is twofold: First, they’ll describe in pictures what they perceive to be the values underlying the topic. Second, they’ll share a work-related story that’s indicative of those values. (Example: an image of a turtle may represent patience and longevity, so the player may share an anecdote in which an attractive but high-risk project was not pursued.)
  4. Give everyone 10 minutes to cutout one or more images that represent their perception of the underlying values.
  5. Ask them to tape their image(s) in the designated area and then quietly reflect on a story associated with the value(s) they represented.
  6. Ask for volunteers to take turns sharing both their images and their associated story.
  7. Pay attention as the players describe the values they perceive and write them in the space beside the appropriate image.
  8. Go over the values you captured and ask the players to look for overlaps and gaps in their perception. Ask follow-up questions about the content and stories to generate further conversation. Let the group absorb and discuss the perceptions they share as well as those they don’t.

Value-Tease_BW2

Strategy:

A notable benefit of using pictures to elicit values statements and stories is that imagery is simultaneously one step removed from a straight, verbal declaration yet one step deeper than what you may get when you ask players to share their “intellectual” thoughts. And using pictures gives the players a sort of comfort zone to express themselves, since they can choose pictures that represent the whole spectrum of comedy and tragedy around a topic. So if someone prefers truth through humor, they can find images that allow them to use it. And if someone else prefers truth through hyperbole, well, they have that option too.

As the group lead, realize that some players will think immediately of a value representing a topic and go hunting through the magazines until they find a suitable representation. Others will surf the images, looking for something that resonates with a vague notion they have in their minds. Either approach is suitable and you can discuss these approaches when you set up the play.

Most importantly when you introduce the game, encourage people to share the values they perceive as honestly as they can. Tell them that it’s okay to believe that an underlying organizational value is territoriality and to represent that with an image of a lion. Not only is this behavior appropriate, but it’s also desirable—since beliefs that drive behavior often go unstated in public but are repeated and spread through huddles within the organization. And as people share stories, if someone is having trouble thinking of a story to match their image, give them more time (or let them bow out completely) and let someone else offer a story. Often people will have stories triggered based on anecdotes that others share.

Finally, let people be creative with the storytelling section of the play. If two or more participants want to share a story together, encourage them to do so. They can even go so far as to role play an event that unfolded. Your job is to create a space in which people can say something that may be taboo but that everyone is thinking.

Fun, optional activity: Ask the players to cutout images that represent what the values are NOT. So if a player believes expediency is NOT one of the values around a project,  she may choose the aforementioned turtle as a representative image.

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Empathy Map

Empathy map, originally uploaded by dgray_xplane.

The empathy map, one of XPLANE’s methods for understanding audiences, including users, customers, and other players in any business ecosystem, has gotten some press lately because it was featured in Alex Osterwalder‘s excellent book, Business Model Generation as a tool for discovering insights about customers.

Here’s how it works:

GOAL: The goal of the game is to gain a deeper level of understanding of a stakeholder in your business ecosystem, which may be a client, prospect, partner, etc., within a given context, such as a buying decision or an experience using a product or service. The exercise can be as simple or complex as you want to make it. You should be able to make a rough empathy map in about 20 minutes, provided you have a decent understanding of the person and context you want to map. Even if you don’t understand the stakeholder very well, the empathy-mapping exercise can help you identify gaps in your understanding and help you gain a deeper understanding of the things you don’t yet know.

1. Start by drawing a circle to represent the person and give the circle a name and some identifying information such as a job title. It helps if you can think of a real person who roughly fits the profile, so you can keep them in mind as you proceed. In keeping with the idea of a “profile” think of the circle as the profile of a person’s head and fill in some details. You might want to add eyes, mouth, nose, ears, and maybe glasses if appropriate or a hairstyle to differentiate the person from other profiles you might want to create. These simple details are not a frivolous addition — they will help you project yourself into the experience of that person, which is the point of the exercise.

2. Determine a question you have for that stakeholder. If you had a question you would want to ask them, or a situation in their life you want to understand, what would that be? You might want to understand a certain kind of buying decision, for example, in which case your question might be “Why should I buy X?”

3. Divide the circle into sections that represent aspects of that person’s sensory experience. What are they thinking, feeling, saying, doing, hearing? Label the appropriate sections on the image.

4. Now it’s time for you to practice the “empathy” portion of the exercise. As best you can, try to project yourself into that person’s experience and understand the context you want to explore. Then start to fill in the diagram with real, tangible, sensory experiences. If you are filling in the “hearing” section, for example, try to think of what the person might hear, and how they would hear it. In the “saying” section, try to write their thoughts as they would express them. Don’t put your words into their mouth — the point is to truly understand and empathize with their situation so you can design a better product, service or whatever.

5. Check yourself: Ask others to review your map, make suggestions, and add details or context. The more the person can identify with the actual stakeholder the better. Over time you will hone your ability to understand and empathize with others in your business ecosystem, which will help you improve your relationships and your results.

Download the Empathy Map Canvas.

Click here for photos of empathy-mapping in action.

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Show and Tell

Geneva workshop

While it’s enjoyable and worthwhile to discuss the ideas behind Gamestorming, it’s more useful to experience them. The image below represents output from a visual-thinking game that you can “play” with your employees.

Caution: Adults have a tendency to link Show and Tell to child’s play. This is a learning faux pas. It’s right up there with underestimating the value of doodling. And now we know what’s wrong with that: Take Note: Doodling can Help Memory.

OBJECT of the GAME: To get a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ perspectives on anything—a new project, an organizational restructuring, a shift in the company’s vision or team dynamic, etc.

HOW TO PLAY:

  1. A few days in advance of a meeting, ask employees to bring an artifact for Show and Tell. The instructions are to bring something that, from their perspective, is representative of the topic at hand. If possible, tell them to keep the item hidden until it’s their turn to show it at the meeting.
  2. In a white space visible to everyone, write the name of the game and the topic. If you wish, draw a picture of either.
  3. When everyone is assembled with their show piece, ask for volunteers to stand up and show first.
  4. Pay close attention to each employee’s story of why she thought an item represented or reminded her of the topic. Listen for similarities, dif­ferences, and emotional descriptions of the item. Write each of these contributions in the white space and draw a simple visual of the item the person brought next to her comments.
  5. Summarize what you’ve captured in the white space and let the group absorb any shared themes of excitement, doubt or concern. Ask follow-up questions about the content to generate further conversation.

WINNING STRATEGY: Show and Tell taps into the power of metaphors to reveal players’ underlying assumptions and associations around a topic. If you hear a string of items that are described in concerned or fearful terms, that’s likely a signal that the employees’ needs aren’t being met in some way. As the team lead, encourage and applaud honesty during the stories and write down every point an employee makes that seems important to him or her. Keep the rest of the group quiet while someone is showing and telling.

As the group facilitator, if you feel intimidated by drawing a representation of a show item in the white space, get through it: attempt to draw it anyway and let the group tease you about your efforts. Show and Tell can be a vulnerable activity for employees—particularly the introverted type—so show some team spirit by being vulnerable in your leadership role.

Show-and-Tell