Spark Card: Build A Model

Words - whether exchanged through conversation or composed into a written document - can get us only so far in expressing ideas. Our words are abstractions that live purely in our heads, and rely upon shared, implicit assumptions of what they mean and represent.

Get out of your heads and put your hands to work!

Use any physical materials you have available and build a three-dimensional model of your idea. Make it as detailed and explicit as you can - bring the idea that lives in your head to life in the space where your working.

Our are typically outfitted with “modeling kits” for just this purpose. These may include items such as clay, foam, wire, string, construction paper, popsickle sticks, egg cartons, wooden dowels, straws, sacks, glue, tape, and all sorts of other odds and ends. In our view, no social or group meeting space is complete without resources and tools that enable 3-dimensional model building.

This is the fourth in a series of Spark Cards being published to the Tomorrow Makers Journal.

Spark Card: The Big World of Possibilities

First, to answer the question, "What is a Spark Card?"

A Spark Card is a tool for perturbing imagination, furthering ideas,  and seeing with fresh eyes.

Gail and I began developing them for our Collaboratory at Sonoma Mountain Village that we share with the Livability Project. We have a set of 12 and have sketched out as many more. Spark Cards are part of the Collaboratory’s way of working. With this post, we'll begin publishing them in journal form. Look for a downloadable deck in the near future.

These cards can help you facilitate yourselves -- a task which is often very difficult.  Even high performance teams and groups get so focused on immediate tasks at hand that they forget to reach out, to explore an idea from different vantage points. Think of Spark Cards as a Creative Whack Pack for collaboration. Use them to begin your meeting, or at a point where you feel stuck or stale.  They can also help you take a last look at your work. They serve as a check to what really matters about your enterprise and the immediate next steps.  

In our haste to succeed with deliverables and goals, we tend to race to the finish line.  These Spark Cards are meant to entice you to “make haste slowly”. They have been proven to save time and enrich the products and services being developed.  

Happy perturbing! May you have meaningful, rich, worthy conversations!

Without further adieu, our first card...


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Designing Design: The Weeble Principle


If you're an American between the ages of 5 and 50, or the parent of children within this demographic, chances are you are familiar with Weebles®, and their catchy slogan:

"Weebles wobble but they don't fall down!"

And sure enough, try as you might to knock one over, inevitably it will right itself. Well, it turns out these little guys not only provide youngsters with hours of fascination, they also provide a valuable principle for process & event designers:

Create a design that won't fall apart when it takes an unexpected hit.

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A Playshop for Evolutionary Leadership, Collaboration & Systems Thinking

A few weeks back, I had the honor of designing and facilitating a 3-hour event - or "playscape," as Professor Laszlo called it - with a class of MBA students at the Presidio School of Management studying "Evolutionary Leadership, Collaboration, and Systems Thinking."

With such a juicy course title, I wasn't a hard recruit. I knew from the get-go that I did not want to try to present to the class, opting instead to first give the students a participatory experience of the kind of collaborative design processes I like to create, and then open the room for conversation and questions generated by the interaction.

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In less than three hours, the class created six new enterprises, defined the guiding principles and organizational practices of each, incorporated key insights from three dozen world-class writers and authors and, finally, presented these business models to each other in way that could be readily understood in about three minutes.

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It was a rich and immersive afternoon of collaborative design and social learning, embued with emergence and playfulness.