Innovation: the human flip chart

I love reading Gillian Martin Mehers’s blog, You Learn Something New Every Day. Now there is my kind of person! Recently she posted about a facilitation challenge that I related to: going to a gathering venue and not being allowed to post things on the way. As I’m fully into flip charts and graphic recording/facilitation, I always ask in advance if I can put stuff on the wall, and if not, I arrange for pin boards or some alternative. However, Gillian and her team came up with a new one – human flip charts. Tight Parameters = Opportunities for Innovation.

There are two things I appreciate about Gillian’s improvisational response to a challenge. One, it is creative. Two, in engages and involves everyone in the room in the solution. The “problem” isn’t just the facilitators’. It is the challenge and operating conditions of the group.

Where we are able to give over both control AND responsibility, I find we get greater engagement.

Edit: a few hours later, I find this picture of CIFOR’s annual meeting Open Space Marketplace — one of the more innovative ones that I’ve seen!

4 thoughts on “Innovation: the human flip chart”

  1. Hi Nancy
    I’ve used human flip charts in a feedback exercise before. Everyone really liked it. The idea was to reflect on what you had gained from different people within a community of practice. Everyone went around sticking their post-it comments on the relevant person’s back. I collected them, and read a few out so people could guess who they related to. Kindof a public/private feedback session!

  2. Nancy – I am sure there is a whole rich set of experiences (and maybe stories and literature) about innovation as a direct result of constraints. If you have to improvise and not use a predetermined, “easy” solution, you let the community you have gathered around you share some bits of knowledge they have about how to solve problems which might not be the best in an “easy” world but that works well under your particular circumstances.

  3. Rachel, thanks for the observation of public/private feedback. I think you have unearthed an important pattern. You too, Ed, with the idea of a) constraints and b) drawing on community knowledge. Thanks!

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