By Matt Noyes, from El Camino Logico in Alforja, Volume I.

Not everyone has experience planning actions and democratic, collaborative planning requires some method. This activity can help members of a group work together and develop a shared plan.

In this activity, participants have to organize several sets of cards – each representing one part of a planning process -- that form a logical order, or do they…?

Cards prepared ahead of time, based on the work or plans of the participants. Four sets of four cards each. Each set has a card for each of the following elements of a strategic plan: What (description of a task), Why (the objective for the task), With What (the materials needed to accomplish the task), How (the way the task will be carried out). Sixteen cards in total.

Preparation of the cards: choose four possible actions that the group could take. Take a stack of index cards. For each action, write the What, Why, With What, and How, each on a separate card.

Once you have filled out all the cards, go back through the sets and remove one card from each set, substituting a blank card. Take a different category from each set (the What card from set one, the Why card from set two, etc.)

Finally, mark each set of cards with a different color, so that the four cards that go together are all of the same color.


Explain and motivate. ----

Divide the cards into two sets, (for example one set would have the green and red cards, the other would have the yellow and purple cards) and shuffle each set. Form two groups of three people each. Each group is given one set of eight cards.

The task of the groups is to look over the cards of the same color and fill out the blank card with the missing element. Once they have the cards filled in, the next step is to put them in a logical order, however the participants define that.

Facilitator may want to challenge choices here or there, to stir discussion, but be careful not to steer the groups – that will undermine the whole point of the activity, which is not to find the right order, but to find a shared explanation that has been thoroughly discussed and debated.

Once the cards are done, the two groups put their sets together and each group explains to the other the choices it made. The other group is encouraged to question and challenge the choices they made.

The facilitator can point out that each set has a what, why, with what and how category. And ask people if everyone put them in the same order. What is the relationship between those categories? How should they go together in making an action plan? What do you need to know first, second, third, fourth?

Watch for:
Don't get bogged down in a fight over which order is right, in some authoritative logical sense. The point is to debate and discuss the order so that participants become familiar with thinking about each of these elements when planning, and so that we take all the factors into account. In reality, we often take the categories in several different orders when planning, going from one to the other and back again.

However, this does not mean that you should not challenge explanations that you don't understand or agree with. The point is that you are not trying to force everyone to adopt one final official sequence...

Alforja has several good suggestions on variations. So, go buy their book already!

Workplace Project...