One day last week I spotted someone dragging a huge sheet of brown paper around with them. Being curious I followed this guy and started talking with him. Turns out that Ed, for that is the name of the brown paper guy, is helping people to play with time. A bit like Doctor Who, but with fewer Daleks (although I’m sure I’ve spotted the odd alien lurking…) and much more focus on practical application. So what is Ed up to?
Ed is helping people to sequence and prioritise stuff in a participative way. So he fixes this great long piece of brown paper on the wall, and teams use it as a timeline to stick up notes about what they want and need to do, with whom and by when. Once every one has flung their stuff at the wall, so to speak, the team then thinks about the resourcing of the work and the timing of the work. Then they play with all the stickies and try to reach agreement about what to do, when to do it and how to do it.
What emerges is a useful plan which sets things out for the next few months. Importantly the playing and discussion creates a sense of collective ownership. That’s not to say that everyone owns everything – all the stickies are the responsibility of individual people. And because the timeline has been played with by everyone and the tensions which originally appear are discussed by everyone, there is a sense of community about the outcome. I was going to say a sense of “we’re all in this together” but HM Government has shattered the delightful High School Musical association I previously had with this phrase and forever made it a no go zone.
I’d not seen this method before and I quite like what Ed has helped to make happen here. It’s certainly a whole lot more fun that staring at a spreadsheet! Have you got any examples of enjoyable and effective planning you’d like to share?
Dalek image c/o Jim’s Dalek Site