We all have a “go-to move”. Danny Zuko had the old yawn-then-put-your-arm-around-Sandy’s-shoulders. Jimmy Superfly Snuka leapt from the top rope to head butt his opponents. A guy who lived across the hall from me in my freshman dorm had this irritating, unstoppable shot from just below the goal in Sega’s NHLPA Hockey ’93.
In the learning and development world, it’s that instructional strategy that seems to make its way into just about every one of our workshops or presentations.
Recently my go-to move has been an activity called “How I See It”. I first learned this activity as part of Casey Family Program’s training on racial and ethnic identity development called Knowing Who You Are (side note: this is the best diversity-related training I’ve ever attended). Here’s the activity in a nutshell:
How I See It
How it works: Break participants into groups of about 5 or so people and give each group a set of “How I See It” cards. Each card (see below for how to create these cards) has a statement and the groups are instructed to place each card into one of three piles:
1. The “True” Pile. If everyone in the group feels the statement is true, place the card in this pile.
2. The “False” Pile. If everyone in the group feels the statement is false, place the card in this pile.
3. The “Hung Jury” Pile. If some people in the group feel the statement is true and others think it is false, place the card in this pile. Everyone must declare if they feel the statement is true or false (there is no “can’t decide” or “it depends” option).
How to create “How I See It” cards: Each card should be a statement about the topic at hand. For example, a training on racism could have statements such as: “All races are portrayed in a fair way on television.” A workshop on learning and development could have statements such as: “Level 1 evaluation is useless.”
Why I go back to this activity time and again: The statements on the cards seem simple and black and white, but when people begin discussing them and need to declare absolutely whether they agree or disagree with a statement, suddenly they begin to hedge… except they can’t hedge. The rule is: you need to declare whether you feel the statement is true or false. And you need to justify your decision with your groupmates. The purpose isn’t to try to convince others in the group why you may be right and they may be wrong, but rather to describe why you feel a certain way about the statement. This activity has led to some of the best discussion, providing structure for people to engage – safely – about potentially hot button issues.
I especially love using this activity immediately after lunch, when energy can be low. This activity naturally allows for discussions and debate; there’s no risk of someone falling asleep!
Keys to success: There are four keys to success for this activity.
1. The statements on the cards should be absolute statements (always, never, etc) yet not too extreme that the answer is too obvious (ie: “Racism is always bad” is a poor card because nobody will say “I think that’s false”, a more nuanced absolute could be: “There is no such thing as reverse discrimination; discrimination in any form is simply discrimination.”)
2. The small groups are large enough to allow for the potential to have a variety of opinions (ideally 5-6 people per group)
3. The small groups are given ample time to discuss, but not too much time to beat a dead horse (ideally there will be 5 or so cards and 10-15 minutes to discuss in small groups)
4. A large group de-brief is essential so that participants can hear where other groups had similar conversations and points of debate as well as to expose participants to lines of conversation they may not have even thought about.
So, there you have it, my “go-to move”. How about you? What’s your go-to move?