When our dear friend Joan Amidei signed up to facilitate a design session for 80 participants, she was mostly optimistic but a little unsure of what to expect. Would the participants stay engaged? Would they listen to one another and work together? What kinds of ideas would they come up with? Would they enjoy the process? If you have ever facilitated a meeting before, or been in charge of your team’s offsite, you can probably relate. Joan engaged Collective Next to help make the session a success.

Joan and her team from CN approached the session with a strong process, a spirit of creativity, and a healthy dose of flexibility. They created an agenda with time and space for the particpants to scan, focus, and act. They structured the session such that the facilitators would create the design and run the show in the beginning, but by the end, the participants would completely own their experience and outcomes. They enlisted a few of our graphic facilitators to help the participants see their ideas materialize in real time.

Fun fact/important detail: the participants in Joan’s session were 10 years old. That’s right – 80 fifth graders!

Our team delivered this design session as part of STEM Week at a local elementary school. The objective of the session was to provide fifth graders the opportunity to work collaboratively while tackling important, real world issues. The kids started from scratch; there was no starter list. It was entirely up to them to brainstorm, prioritize, and address important, real world issues.

The kids responded to the challenge with stunning creativity and confidence. Yes, they were silly and spontaneous. One student predicted that, in the future, “tacos would come alive and grow faces,” much to everyone’s delight. But later the tone shifted. The kids got serious about the issues that they felt were most in need of solving, and they didn’t mess around: wifi in space, animal extinction, issues of equality, addressing terrorism, preventing war, and more. Working together in breakout groups, they came up with solutions, then proposed their ideas to the larger group. A few of their final report out scribing images are included below.

Graphic facilitation was brand new to this audience. They caught on to its power right away, and immediately began to use it as a collaboration tool in the session.

In Episode 13 of NibSqueak, our podcast about using visuals to work better, available above, my co-host Bree talks to Joan about the brilliant ideas that emerged from the kids in her design session, their response to graphic facilitation, and more. Enjoy!

NibSqueak is our podcast about using visuals to communicate, collaborate, and work better. For a complete episode list, visit nibsqueak.com.