Design Pattern: Room as Agenda

Room as Agenda

Room as Agenda

Following the logical thread of a group process isn't easy. It's tough for participants to see how one facilitated activity will lead to another, and how the whole event will eventually get them where they want to be. Agendas alone fall short, especially if there are multiple, distinct objectives.

One way to help the group see the process is to immerse them in it. Arrange the templates, charts, chairs, and tables around the room so that the activities flow from one chart to the next, following the agenda. Whether the spaces are visual templates, blank charts for graphic recording, or stations for group or individual activities, the purpose is to help the group visualize how the day will unfold sequentially. The room becomes an assembly line for ideas. 

Introduce the process just like you would walk through an agenda: walk through the room, giving a light touch to each activity. Give a timeframe for each activity. Don't forget to mention where lunch, breaks, and other invisibles will fit in. Emphasize the logic of how ideas will flow from one activity to the next.

Using the room as the agenda helps big picture people see how it all fits together. It reassures detail people and process people that time, thought, and planning have gone into this. And it surfaces any challenges to the process early, so that participants can empty their backpacks and be more fully engaged. 

Click to view the room above interactively and in 360:

I've watched many graphic facilitators use this method. It's most directly inspired by the Grove Consultants' design pattern of Rooms as Memory Theaters.