Updated: Oct 3, 2018
Object of Play
Plenty of us are visionaries, idea generators, or, at the very least, suggestion makers. But ideas never come to fruition without a plan.
As Benjamin Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said.” Following up on a big idea with an executable action plan is one of the monumental differences between teams and companies that are merely good and those that are outstanding.
That’s why this activity deserves special attention. The Graphic Gameplan shows you how you’ll get where you want to go with a project.
Number of Players
Small groups, but can also be done individually
Duration of Play
30 minutes to 2 hours
How to Play
1. Before the meeting, think of one or more projects that need to get traction.
2. In a large, white space, preferably 3–4 feet high by 6–12 feet wide, draw a picture similar to the following.
3. Display the graphic on the meeting room wall and tell the players that the goal of the meeting is to get consensus around specific tasks required to complete a project.
4. Write the name of the first project to be discussed at the top left of the first column. As the group leader, you can write all associated projects downward in that same column or you can ask the players to add projects that they agree need attention. Either way, you should end up with the relevant projects listed in the leftmost column.
5. Based on the projects listed, either tell the group the time frame and write the milestones in days, weeks, or months along the top row, or ask what they think it should be and write that time frame along the top. (Note: you can also establish a timeline after step 8.)
6. Sticky notes in hand, ask the players to choose a project and agree aloud on the first step required to accomplish it. Write their contribution on the sticky note and post it in the first box next to that project.
7. Ask the players for the second, third, and fourth steps, and so on. Keep writing their comments on sticky notes until they’re satisfied that they’ve adequately outlined each step to complete the project.
8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for every project on your display, until the game plan is filled out.
Completing a game plan as a group has two major benefits. The first is that it breaks big projects into manageable chunks of work, which encourages anyone responsible for a project. The second is that because the “group mind” creates the game plan, it raises the quality of the flow of project management. It becomes less likely that important steps are left out and more likely that the project is approached thoughtfully and strategically. But as you post the sticky notes, don’t assume that the first flow the group maps is the best one.
Ask the players challenging questions about their comments:
· Does this have to happen first?
· Can these two steps be combined?
· How are steps related across projects?
· Do steps in one project affect the progress or outcome of another?
Ask hard questions to help the group get to the best place and write any food for thought on a flip chart nearby.
When determining the timeline to write across the top, it’s important to note that it can be determined after the project steps are established. A time frame written beforehand can impact the steps people are willing and able to take, so think about whether it serves the facilitation process better by assigning time before or after the play is complete.
If you find that the players want to assign tasks to specific people or departments as they go, let them. Simply add the names of the responsible parties to each sticky note (obviously, these assignments should be realistic). And if the players want to discuss available resources, or a lack thereof, ask them to share what they expect to need in order to complete the projects and capture that on a flip chart in the room.
The game plan can be customized with several rows and columns in order to support more complex projects. You can draw however many rows and columns you’d like as long as you have sticky notes that will fit within. Whatever the matrix looks like, the visual that results from this group discussion can serve as the large-scale, step-by-step of a project, or its contents can be funnelled into more formal project management software or some other platform used by the organization. Either way, the discussion around creating it will be of significant value.
Optional activity: Draw smaller versions of the game plan on flip-chart paper and have breakout groups tackle specific projects using markers and small sticky notes. Then ask each group to present their approach to the larger group and to get feedback on the steps they proposed.