Paper Plate Challenge

Identifying and achieving action steps is a key planning skill. This activity offers participants challenge and practice in visualizing the 'stepping stones', and the sequence, that will lead to success. Each small group (or individual participants) writes down the steps they believe are necessary, however, since it is so easy to be broad or unrealistic, this exercise utilizes: a) a physical set-up and structure (paper plates) to support clearer thinking; b) getting support from other participants in small groups; and c) debriefing midway to support clarity of objectives.

Create groups of four to five people. Have the groups spread out around the room. Put in the middle of the room a symbol, like a bowl of fruit, which represents the 'mission'. This is the specific- as opposed to broad- campaign goal. Give each participant five to six paper plates, with extras available if needed. The task for each group is to write on each plate the steps or 'stepping stones' that are important to achieving the vision. Each paper plate represents one objective to achieve. It is best to use this technique in small groups to allow participants to bounce ideas off each other, be challenged about each objective, and get some feedback about the order of the steps. Acknowledge up front this is intended to be a challenge. Invite questions and clarify as needed. Allow 20 to 40 minutes for this activity. Discussion, or some disagreement, among participants is okay; facilitators, however, should be available for support and coaching. Debrief on outcomes: interrupt the activity before most groups look finished for a quick check-in. Share results with the full group.

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