When you walk into a room with a group of people who take the work that they do very seriously, it’s sometimes a  brave act to produce items that look like play things.  Yet those very play things in the hands of the same group of people can enable different levels of thinking and creativity to emerge.

Working with objects such as paddle pop sticks, modeling clay or blocks opens up the possibility of shifts and change in a process.  The first ideas are placed on a flat board or sheet of paper.  The very mobility of the objects invites movement and discussion.

Recently I worked with a group of people who used the sticks and other materials (pencils, erasers, modeling clay, coloured paper and scissors) to map all of the services they deliver.  The product of their deliberations was easily transferred (after photography to retain the map) to a matrix sheet on another table grid to identify how those services might be delivered over the next few years.

Other applications for paddle pop sticks include – project planning, task allocation and idea listing.  I’d be interested in hearing more thoughts and experience with cheap and cheerful play things.

Lynn Walsh – workshop and meeting facilitator – Sydney- business and strategic planning – team conversations

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  1. Paper plates works well for me, and certainly fall under the “cheap and cheerful” category. Ideal for any processes that involve mapping out a context, a strategy, ways forward and so on. No need to be linear about it, webs work fine too:
    http://rhizomenetwork.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/000_0278-small.jpg?w=300&h=225

    The main benefit I find is that it gets a group on their feet and moving around the floor, which in itself opens up the possibility of new insights and more creativity.

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