Hl check in_deck_ebook_20140117


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A collection of our most memorable “check-in” activities at HopeLab, used to kick off and close staff meetings and retreats. The exercises are simple tools we use to help create quality connections between our staff.

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Hl check in_deck_ebook_20140117

  1. 1. Checkin DECK an invitation for presence and connection Chris Marcell Murc hison arc Murc his chiso Vice e s i ent o Sta f e velopme nt Vi ce P re si d e nt f or Sta ff D evel ment a and Cu lt ure Cult t HopeLab p
  2. 2. why this project? contents AC T I V I T I E S getting acquainted 01 – 05 inviting presence 06 – 10 diving deeper 11 – 15 reflecting and closing 16 – 19 about Chris
  3. 3. why this project? Check-ins are powerful catalysts. They can shift a group’s energy, deepen relationships, help a team lean into a difficult issue, spark creativity, engage individual and collective purpose, incite joyfulness, and so much more. Check-in activities are an invitation to connect with ourselves, connect with each other, and settle into the moment and the task at hand. They are an essential practice for culture building. At HopeLab, we experiment with creating a culture where the whole person is nurtured. We believe that under the right conditions – an environment of purpose, connection, control, integrity, learning, and joy – the exquisite humans in our organization have the opportunity to thrive and, as a result, our business will too. It just might be that the workplace has the greatest potential to improve how we relate to each other, transforming the workplace and, by extension, the world. What you have before you is a collection of our most creative and memorable check-in activities at HopeLab, divided into four categories: Getting Acquainted, Inviting Presence, Diving Deeper, and Reflecting and Closing. We offer this deck as an invitation for you to transform your own workplace. Check-ins are a great first step! Let us know what you learn and how you experiment with and improve upon our ideas. Enjoy!
  4. 4. a note on facilitation This is a collection of check-in activties that we have borrowed, customized or designed for our own use. I expect you will want to do the same. Every group dynamic is unique, with different players, needs and interests. You know your group best – their personalities, balance of extraversion / introversion, openness, willingness to take risks, etc. So, mold these activities to your group’s needs. My advice to facilitators is this: Ease in. Similar to a social gathering, people often benefit from some simple structure to help them feel comfortable and safe, to open up, and to meaningfully connect with each other. Innovate. Re-craft or revise the activities to meet the needs of your group. Improvise. Experiment and have fun with it! It’s not world peace, it’s a check-in activity! Take some risks, make some mistakes, be willing to shift course. Most importantly, play around with the ideas and have fun. You’ll be amazed at the energy you’ll unleash! Engage. Try to engage multiple senses. If an experience can connect to the head, heart and gut participants are more likely to experience it in a deeper way. Bring it! Bring your whole self to these activities. It is not about perfection, it is about showing up and being your most creative self. In this way you and your activities will be more compelling.
  5. 5. AC T I V I T I E S 01 02 03 04 05 i am... fortune teller jeffry’s fabrics a welcoming exercise concentric circles Many people are a little bashful in groups, particularly when they are new. This shyness often translates to hesitance, awkwardness and reticence. When multiplied, it can make a group experience less collaborative, less productive and downright painful. Introducing some structured activities to help group members get acquainted can make all the difference. Creating space for this connection can open the doorway for greater openness, trust and interest and allow your group to thrive. getting acquainted
  6. 6. T OOL S HAN D OU TS P ENS PEN PE S No. i am... getting acquainted 01
  7. 7. i am... getting acquainted N o. 01 Many acquaintance exercises stop at “silly.” Being in a new group can be uncomfortable and icebreakers experienced as nerve wracking, so it can be tempting to hurry through them or to keep them superficial. However, in our experience, if you push through discomfort you are likely to learn so much more about your peers / colleagues and even yourself. I have used this exercise a couple of times at HopeLab and with great success. It’s fun and invites self-reflection, inquiry and connection through new, shared insights. 1 Create handouts that are 10 sentence completions – all starting with “I am .” 2 Distribute the handouts and pens and give participants 3-5 minutes to complete all 10 sentences (typically, as you progress you get beyond the obvious responses and begin to reveal more interesting or meaningful things about yourself). If this is a new group, or one with some new members, the first “I am ” can be completed with the person’s name. 3 Have participants mingle silently about the room for 3-5 minutes, looking at each other’s lists. Participants can hold up their lists in front of them as shown in the photo. 4 Then ask participants to find a partner, share his/her list and allow the listener to ask questions to learn more. 5 After both partners have shared (3 - 5 minutes in total), ask participants to find a new partner and repeat the exercise. 6 Complete as many rounds as time allows.
  8. 8. T OOL S DESI GN ED, N PRI NTE D AN D E F OL D E D L FOR T UNE OR T ELL ER S For a copy of our template, go to our blog post at blog.hopelab.org (May 31, 2012) 1 2 No. 3 4 fortune teller 5 6 7 8 getting acquainted 9 02
  9. 9. fortune teller getting acquainted We created this exercise for the 2012 Wisdom 2.0 Business conference in San Francisco. The intention was to creatively help the 400+ participants connect with each other and experience the value of check-in exercises. N o. 02 This exercise is a “riff” off of a childhood game called Fortune Teller or Cootie Catcher. We crafted this exercise, full of fun and provocative questions, to help conference attendees meet and get acquainted. Fortune Teller design templates and folding instructions are easily available online. To play: 1 Have one partner (A) hold the Fortune Teller. 2 The other partner (B) chooses one of the outer words. Our outer words were values. 3 Partner A spells out the word, opening and closing the Fortune Teller horizontally then vertically with each letter as they spell out the word. 4 When finished spelling the word, four inner words will be revealed. Partner B chooses one of them. Our inner words were emotions. 5 Partner A lifts up that panel and reveals and reads the question there that relates to the chosen emotion. 6 Partner B responds and thus ensues a fun “get to know you” conversation! If time allows, instructing participants to fold their own Fortune Tellers would be a fun addition to this exercise.
  10. 10. T OOL S ASS O R T ED FA B RI C A S A M PLE S No. jeffry’s fabrics getting acquainted 03
  11. 11. jeffry’s fabric getting acquainted N o. 03 We always begin our HopeLab board meetings with a check-in exercise. Since we only meet a few times each year, the check-ins are a nice opportunity to re-connect with each other. Jeffry, a businessman and interior designer who serves on our board, devised this wonderful exercise. 1 Collect a diverse selection of fabric samples. Spread them out on your meeting table. 2 Ask participants to choose one they like. 3 In a go-round, have participants share what appealed to t them about the particular fabric they chose (its pattern, texture, etc.) and how this fabric might represent something text about them or their role in the group. abo Note Note: When we did this exercise, one participant creatively drew upon the li of materials and other information (like fire retardance) on the back list of the fabric sample label for inspiration. Delightful!
  12. 12. getting acquainted a welcoming exercise N o. 04 In any organization the introduction and orientation of new team members is an important and highly leveraged opportunity. Take advantage of it! Doing this well allows for quick connection, immersion and productivity. Our Research and Product Development team came up with a fun way to do this. After general introductions by all team members, have each existing staff member introduce themselves and share the following: N No. No a welcoming exercise getting acquainted 04 1 2 Share 1 or 2 things you have learned at work. Share 1 or 2 things that you do in your role that you never expected. 3 Name a “super-power” of one other person in the group, something they do really well and seemingly effortlessly. This exercise has been an effective way to introduce new staff members to the areas of expertise of their new colleagues. It is also a great way to illuminate for all team members the amazing talents in the group.
  13. 13. T OOL S CHI ME O R I BEL L This is a fun activity which allows for a maximum number of introductions in a short amount of time. I like this exercise because the questions can be tailored to the group – focusing on basic introductions or infused with more serious questions related to the content of your meeting or questions designed to elicit deeper sharing. No. concentric circles getting acquainted ing cq int 05
  14. 14. getting acquainted concentric circles N o. 05 Some Sample Questions What vegetable do you most resemble? Which of the four seasons do you most enjoy? 1 Divide the group into two. 2 Create two circles, with equal numbers of people, one inner and one outer - the inner circle facing outward and the outer circle facing inward. Each person should be opposite and paired with one other. 3 The facilitator poses the first question to the group. Each person in a pair takes turns answering the question. The listening partner does so actively, asking questions for clarification or deeper understanding where appropriate. 4 After about 5 minutes close the conversations (a chime or non-offensive bell is handy) and then ask the inner circle to rotate clockwise by 3-5 people so they are facing a new partner. 5 Pose the second question and so on. 6 Conduct as many rounds as time allows. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose? You can cast any actor alive or dead to play you in a film about your life. Whom would you cast in the role? If you could have one superpower, which would you choose? What’s the first thing you notice about someone when you meet them? If you could be any age again for one week, what age would you be? If you could have another occupation for one week, what occupation would you choose? What was your favorite toy as a kid? What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received? If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would you want to have seen? What did you want to grow up to be when you were little?
  15. 15. AC T I VI T I ES 06 a tea exercise 6 s 07 energy check-i 7 -in 08 seuss seu 09 pot-shots o10 pain a postcard int in In our busy worlds of work tasks and projects, email, texting, cell phones, etc., it is easy to be distracted when entering a meeting. Our minds can continue to race with distracting thoughts throughout the meeting. Bringing attention to this, and creating an opportunity for group members to “press the pause button,” can help them focus their attention and be present for the task at hand and to the relationships in the room. As a result, your meeting is likely to be more engaging and yield greater results. inviting presence
  16. 16. T OOL S TEA BALL S D ECO RATI VE B OXES, AS SOR TED TEA Our President, Pat Christen, asked e i d me to create and facilitate a check-in i exercise for a Board meeting – i something centered around tea or a tea e t e ceremony. This is what I came up with! e y s t PUN [ ZJ WP LL VY 3VYLT PWZT KVSV Y ZP[ HT ZLK KPHT UVU L[ TT` JV UPIO UZ LPZ LJ [L[ TV L K[ YH PUJ KP PK U[ [ SH PRI NT E D T EA T QUO TES O E No. a tea exercise inviting presence g 06
  17. 17. a tea exercise inviting presence N o. Share a memory your tea inspires –“This tea reminds me of .” 06 7 In closing, invite participants to make and enjoy a cup of “their” tea sometime in the near future and be reminded of the exercise and their inspired memory. 1 Prepare small boxes that contain tea balls filled with a variety of fragrant teas. Wrap each tea ball in tissue paper and place one in each box along with a tea-related quote (see samples quotes). I like to use a decorative box, wrapped beautifully, so it looks curious and inviting. 2 Sample Tea-Related Quotes Start by asking participants to take three deep breaths – to “press the pause button” on any distracting thoughts and to bring focus and attention to the exercise. As a practice, tea can be a source of pleasure for a lifetime. It is a way to focus, to center. In a world constantly telling you to hurry up, it is the easiest way to slow down. – Norwood Pratt, New Tea Lovers Treasury 3 Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn’t try it on. – Billy Connolly (Actor) Ask participants to notice the box in front of them. Then invite them to unwrap and open their box. 4 Have participants quietly read the quote inside. 5 Then have participants hold the tea ball to their nose and take in the aroma of their tea. Ask them to quietly reflect on what they smell and what memories are evoked. 6 ...She had that brand of pragmatism that would find her the first brewing tea after Armageddon. – Clive Barker, Weave-World In a go-round, ask participants to: Read aloud their quote. Describe the aroma of their tea. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. And whoever this “Earl Grey” fellow is, I’d like to have a word with him… – Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek Strange how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company. – Author Unknown There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea. – Bernard-Paul Heroux (Philosopher) May you always have walls for the winds, a roof for the rain, tea beside the fire, laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all your heart might desire. – Old Irish Blessing
  18. 18. T OOL S QUESTI ONS S ON A HAN DOU T O R U OR F LI PCH AR T CHAR (OP TI O NAL ) NAL) Several years ago, we began e r g experimenting with a wellness program x e at HopeLab called HOGS (health and e e h other good stuf f ). The program u g focuses on engagement and energy e g n y management in four dimensions – a n n physical, emotional, mental and s m a spiritual energy. i g No. energy check-in inviting presence g 07
  19. 19. inviting presence energy check-in N o. 07 Periodically, we find it helpful for staff to check-in on how they are managing and investing their physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy. The following are some questions we’ve posed for this purpose, some of them drawn from the book The Power of Full Engagement, by wer Full Engagement, u g m t Jim Loehr and Tony Schwar tz. d Tony Schwartz. o Who am I becoming? Do I feel a sense of purpose today? Where? How? What rituals might I create that would give me a greater sense of meaning in my life? What am I thinking? What is in my head? Is there a pattern to the thoughts in my busy mind? Am I able to maintain focus or am I consistently distracted? How might I bring more focus to my attention? What am I feeling? What emotion/s am I feeling right now? How consistent with my personal values are my emotional responses in any given situation? Are my responses different at work than at home? If so, how? How much negative energy am I experiencing – defensiveness, frustration, anger*, fear, resentment, envy? How might I redirect this energy in a more positive direction? What am I sensing? How does my body feel right now? What physical sensations do I notice? How are the choices I am making – my habits of nutrition, exercise, sleep, and the balance of stress and recovery – affecting my physical energy? What choices might help me maximize my physical energy to fuel my engagement and my goals? * Note – anger is not necessarily a negative emotion! In fact, the expression of anger can sometimes be highly creative, supportive and beneficial for self and others.
  20. 20. T OOL S seuss inviting presence QUO QU TE CAR DS ARDS inviting presence 08 In our 2012 strategic plan, presented to our Board, HopeLab’s Management Team got creative and used Dr. Seuss’s Horton as a muse to tell the story of our work for the coming year. As a check-in for the board meeting I collected a variety of Dr. Seuss quotes (there are hundreds available online!) and created cards out of them. We spread the cards out on the meeting table and conducted the following exercise: No. seuss N o. 08 Ask participants to browse the selection and pick two cards: One to describe how they are feeling at year’s end and another that reflects their thoughts or feelings about the year ahead. In a go-round, have participants read each quote then describe why they chose it. For us, this exercise proved to be a creative and meaningful opportunity for reflection and sharing, perfect for a year-end planning meeting. While Seuss quotes worked for us, any collection of funny, provocative or inspiring quotes would work well. You could also use this exercise at any time of the year to inspire thoughtful reflection.
  21. 21. T OOL S pot-shots inviting presence POT-S HOT CAR DS N o. 09 Over the course of 40 years, Ashleigh Brilliant has produced a vast archive of original thoughts, each one expressed in 17 words or less. He calls his cards “Pot-Shots” or “Brilliant Thoughts” and they are designed to “hit” you in your heart, brain or funny bone - or perhaps all three. He has amassed a collection of over 10,000 cards to date and they can be ordered at ashleighbrilliant.com. No. 09 We have our own box of Pot Shot cards (a very large one) and use them regularly. They are a creative way to access people’s thoughts and feelings. Here’s how we use them: 1 pot-shots inviting presence Scatter an assortment of cards on your meeting table and ask participants to pick one that says something about them, something they are willing to share with the group. To set more context, the instruction could include how people are feeling in general today; how they are feeling about work today; about the week/month/year ahead; about a particular team dynamic or the status of a project; etc. Allow 3-5 minutes for participants to choose a card. 2 In a go-round, have participants read their card aloud and then share with the group why they selected it.
  22. 22. TOO LS inviting presence WAT ERC OLO R PAI N T S ET S painting a postcard N o. 10 In crafting an exercise, it is often helpful to think about the use of different senses and imagery, not just words, to tap into everyone’s creativity. WAT ERC OLO R T C P OS TCA RDS S Pat Christen concocted this exercise as a board meeting check-in with the caveat that “no talent is required.” With this disclaimer, we all painted away and, not surprisingly, produced some lovely art! The process was quite joyful. Pat then mailed the cards to each of us at the address we provided. Receiving the postcard in the mail several weeks later was a sweet reminder of the exercise and of our time together. PEN S E No. POS TAG PO S TA E T TAGE S TAMP S paint a postcard inviting presence 10 1 Gather watercolor postcards and small watercolor sets. Have these, plus small cups of water and paper towels, at each participant’s place setting. 2 Pose the following question to the group for inspiration: Coming into this meeting, how do you intend to “show up” or be present? 3 Have participants draw/paint their response to this question. (10-15 minutes) 4 When completed, in a go-round, have participants share their postcards and describe what they created and its significance to them. 5 At the end of the exercise, have participants self-address their postcards. Collect and mail them at a later date of your choosing.
  23. 23. AC T I VI T I ES 11 give an authentic gift n cg 12 engagi the spirit ging p rit 13 busy 14 st story spine n 15 finding your genius 5 n u s When a group has been working together for a while and is well acquainted, there is an opportunity to create even deeper and more meaningful connections. Taking this opportunity requires greater risk for group members but offers greater reward. diving deeper
  24. 24. give an authentic gift diving deeper N o. 11 We have been experimenting a lot with the power of improvisation. I crafted this exercise as an opportunity for group participants to acknowledge and appreciate each other. 1 2 Gather participants in a circle. Have the group take a moment to be still with each other. A short breathing exercise is useful, e.g., have the group breathe in and out together, each to the count of five. No . o give an authentic gift diving deeper e 11 3 Have participants consider the person on their left – How have you experienced this person so far in the group’s time together? What have you observed? What have you learned? What seems important to him/her? What have you seen this person struggle with? 4 With the above in mind, craft an imaginary gift to give to this person. 5 To demonstrate, start with yourself, and give your imaginary gift to the person on your left, acting out the process of giving it and describing the gift and why you chose it to give. 6 Continue the gift giving around the circle until the last gift is given to you.
  25. 25. T O OL S D EC ORAT IV E O R N A M EN T O R B OX PA P E R PE PEN No. 12 engaging the spirit diving deeper i e r In our health and wellness program at HopeLab, we pay specific attention to the ways we invest and use energy physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. A long-time friend and organization consultant, Susan Edsall, created this “spirit” exercise as part of one of our staff retreats. The personal notes produced in the exercise were stuffed into handmade ceramic ornaments for safekeeping. The ornament could be broken open at some future point to reveal and remind you reveal remind you future e of your reflections. Our beautiful clay clay your reflections. Our e i ornaments were crafted by our artist friend ornaments e e crafted by our artist friend s r Sheri Jarvis (sherimjarvis.com) but any Jarvis (sherimjarvis.com) but any r . decorative container could be used. decorative e a r could be used.
  26. 26. engaging the spirit diving deeper 1 Set the context for the exercise. Referencing our clay ornaments, we made the analogy that these beautiful objects were once just a lump of wet brown clay, but were turned into objects of beauty through the devoted attention of the artist - thinking of the shape, forming the clay, carving it, firing the ornament, glazing it and firing it again. It is a detailed and lengthy process, riddled at various times with error, excitement, tedium, exploration, discovery, satisfaction, disappointment, and discipline. The same is true of the intention we bring to our own lives. 2 Ask participants to commit to 30 minutes of continued “free writing” with no editing or criticism allowed. Assure them that they will not be asked to share anything that they write unless they want to. The free writing stem is: “The purpose of my life is....” N o. 12 3 Participants should respond to this sentence stem over and over again with various versions or possibilities until they start hitting on something that really rings true. They might feel a surge of energy or emotion at that moment. 4 At the end of the 30-minute free-write, have participants choose a piece of origami paper or other lightweight paper and write their clarified purpose statement on it. Then they should roll the paper into a tight scroll and put it in the hole of the ornament or in the container you have provided. 5 Encourage participants to place their ornament wherever they can see it daily or in a place that is of special significance so it reminds them of the exercise and of their life purpose and the kind of intention that is necessary to bring it to pass. Insert purpose here.
  27. 27. T OOL S busy diving deeper QUE S TI ONS UES T NS E O ON A HAN DOU T O ANDOU OR D DO F LI PCH AR T L PC C (OP TI O N AL) I P EN No. diving deeper 13 Over the course of one year, I noticed a pattern of staff remarking about how “busy” they were, and not always in a good way. I was curious about this, about the cause of this busy-ness, how we might be creating these burdensome conditions ourselves, and how we might un-busy ourselves to create a more intentional and satisfying workload and life. PAP ER PA PER A busy N o. 13 I crafted the following questions after reflecting upon my own busy-ness. I posed these questions for individual reflection and then group discussion in a Management Team meeting during a strategic planning session. The intent was to be sure we (individually and collectively) were not creating completely unattainable goals for the year ahead. What is your relationship to being busy? What might you get out of being busy? How do you know when you are too busy, when you have slipped from being busy to being overwhelmed? How might others know or recognize when you are too busy? What are the consequences of being too busy? What typically gets back-burnered when you are busy? What might be the consequences of that – for you? Your colleagues? The organization?
  28. 28. In the summer of 2011, I took part in an intensive four-day improvisation workshop. In it I discovered the powerful principles of improv and how they apply not only on the stage but in life. T OOL S story spine diving deeper story spine diving deeper No. 14 14 We used a version of this exercise in a staff retreat, as a way to illuminate how easy it is to create unhelpful stories about situations in the workplace and in life. The Story Spine exercise can help you uncover the impact of your stories. 1 2 QUE S TI ONS U O ON ON A HAN DOU T O N U OR F LI P CHA R T A (OP TI O N AL) P N o. Divide the group into triads. Have each person share a story following the outline below. Stories about a conflict or something that “bugs” you are particularly useful and instructive. Once upon a time… It was… So every day… And because of that... And because of that… And because of that… Until finally… And the moral of this story is… 3 After each person has shared a story, the triad can debrief with the following inquiry: Is this story a familiar one in your life? How? How does telling this story help you? How might it not be helpful? 4 After each triad has completed their storytelling and debriefing, discuss the exercise in the larger group by asking for any reflections, ah-ha’s or things learned.
  29. 29. T OOL S AR T POS TCA R DS , OSTCA RDS S T CA QU QUE STI ONS S ON A HANDOU HAN OU T O R F LI PCH R T CHAR (OP I NA (O P TI O NAL ) OP O NA PAP ER AP A R PAP R PAP ER No No. finding your genius diving deeper 15 The purpose behind this exercise is to p h s provide a means for par ticipants to identify v s a o d their “genius” through a process of discovery. h i s g r We craf ted a series of tasks to help people d i a o p illuminate times and activities when they felt t they were in “flow” (a term coined by Mihaly h y fl ” e o d l Csíkszentmihályi). Flow is a state of í t w t f concentration or complete absorption with an n r o m l o o n ac tivity, so much that you might ignore or y c u i r forget about time, eating, etc. It is a time g b t m i , c m when you are completely involved in an e m e o d ac tivit y for its own sake and you’re using your c vt r w a n o e n skills to the utmost. i s h t o When you are in flow there is a freedom to n u e w e r o express, to just be, without fear of external s o t r motivation or judgment. In this space you are a d i a r likely to be expressing genius, the natural x s g u h talents or gifts you have. s This exercise is designed to help you discover r e d u your genius and how you might create w r oppor tunities to express it even more! p e
  30. 30. finding your genius diving deeper N o. 15 1 Ask participants to reflect on times in their lives when they were in a state of “flow.” To help, think about specific periods of life – First decade - Birth to 10 years Second decade - 11 to 20 years Third decade - 21 to 30 years Fourth decade - 31 to 40 years Fifth decade - 41 to 50 years 4 On the back of the art card, participants should write down what they see as the thread between their flow experiences? These might be: A common activity Common kind of companion Certain skills or talents being used A certain kind of motivation A shared emotion 5 What is the genius being expressed? 6 In small groups (no more than 4 people): Share the common characteristics you discovered about your “flow” experiences (share as much/little as you like) For each decade, write down things you did that were a “flow” experience. Write down as many as you can think of. What does this imply about your genius? 2 In what ways might you use your genius more? Scatter a variety of art postcards on the floor. For postcards, go for the greatest diversity you can find – art genres, subject matter, etc. Note - others in the group should listen attentively and then respond to what they have heard – Does what you have heard make sense to you, given how you know this person? What might you add? 3 Ask participants to choose an art card from the floor that seems to represent all that they just wrote down. 7 In the large group, have participants share what struck them as interesting or helpful in this exercise.
  31. 31. AC T I VI T I ES 16 letter t se f 6 er to self 17 o 17 you are. e... 18 i 18 in a box 19 one19 on -word-a a-time wisdom d-at-a- m s Providing space at the end of a meeting or retreat for reflection allows for learning and creates an opportunity for participants to think about how they can apply and sustain what they have learned. It is a powerful pause that supports impact. reflecting and closing
  32. 32. T OOL S E NEVE L OPES E PAPER S Sometimes in meetings or retreats, the m n day ends with some learning to practice i or some goal to achieve. A check-out c ko t exercise can remind and encourage e a par ticipants of these intentions. a PEN No. letter to self reflecting and closing fl g o g 16
  33. 33. letter to self reflecting and closing N o. 16 In one particular staff retreat, our group spent time discovering our “genius,” our individual core talents, and reflecting on how we can express this more in our personal lives and work. We ended the day with this exercise: 1 Imagine you see yourself as a child standing before you. 2 Given our work today, and what you have learned about your self and your genius, what advice would you give to unleash this child’s (your) genius? 3 Write down what you’d say on the provided card. When done, insert the card in an envelope and address it to yourself. 4 Facilitator – collect the envelopes from everyone and mail them at a future date of your choosing. Below is a reaction from one of our staff members to receiving her card to herself months later: “On my refrigerator door hangs the note I wrote to my child self at the retreat. I wrote that note at a time in my life when I was struggling with a major life decision, and I knew I was in for a challenging road ahead, no matter the decision I made. Writing that note was a powerful exercise in the moment – it helped me to ground myself in love and let the decisions I was struggling with flow from this space. And then to read it a few weeks ago, wow. What a blessing and a reminder that despite how painful a situation can be, when rooted in love, it’s all worth it. ”
  34. 34. T OOL S you are... reflecting and closing ONE PO STE R NE POSTE PER PE RSO N E N o. 17 This exercise is a nice follow-up to the “I am” check-in activity. At the end of a meeting or retreat, this exercise is a nice way for participants to affirm each other. 1 Create posters, one for each participant, with their name at the top. PE N/ M ARK ER MARK 2 Tape the posters around the room, allowing ample space between posters. No. you are... reflecting and closing fl ci 17 3 Distribute pens or markers and instruct participants to make their way around the room, writing an affirmation for each team member. Depending upon the content of your meeting, this exercise could be framed in different ways: A skill, strength or competency observed A contribution this person has made to the team Something you appreciate about the person 4 The length of the exercise will depend upon the number of participants. A helpful formula might be 30 seconds multiplied by the total number of participants. 5 At the end of the exercise, have participants take down their poster and review the comments their peers have made. 6 The exercise might be debriefed as a large group, asking participants to share what it was like to write the comments and to receive them.
  35. 35. T OOL S in a box reflecting and closing BOX, RANDOM O BJ E CT S (MORE THAN NUMBER OF PAR TI C I PA N TS ) N o. 18 I love this exercise. It is so random and so interesting to see what people come up with! 1 Collect a variety of random, varied objects and place them in a box. 2 At the close of your meeting, have each participant blindly select an item from the box. No. 18 3 Instruct participants to reflect on how their chosen object might represent what they learned in the meeting or how they will use the meeting’s content in the future. 4 In a go-round, have participants share what their object is and their answers to the questions. in a box reflecting and closing e 5 You can let folks keep their object if you like, as a fun reminder of the day. My craziest box object was a fart machine with a remote control. When the lucky person who drew this object was about to report out, I made it “fart” which greatly amused our group!
  36. 36. reflecting and closing one-word-at a-time wisdom N o. 19 Here’s another improv activity inspired by a game called Proverbs in which participants invent a new proverb by speaking it one person and one word at a time. I have adapted the exercise to be a group reflection on the outcomes or learning from a meeting or retreat. No. one-word-ata-time wisdom reflecting and closing 19 1 2 Have participants stand or sit in a circle. Ask the group to reflect quietly for a moment on the day and what they learned. 3 Then have one person start by saying one word. The next person in the circle (going clockwise or counter-clockwise) adds the next logical word to what was just said. 4 Continue around the circle until a “wisdom” has been completed. At that point, the whole group claps, supporting the wisdom, and then the next person in the circle starts a new wisdom. Note – like a proverb, wisdoms are intended to be short and wise (or pithy!). Some examples from our team: Beware of mysterious objects in a box Check-ins are good for the soul 5 Continue making wisdoms for as long as it makes sense. The activity will move along more smoothly as the group gets the hang of it.
  37. 37. Why is this work important to me? about Chris I grew up in a military family. We moved many times during my childhood – between various countries, between rural and urban centers, between ethnically diverse and homogenous communities. This nomadic life left a mark on me and being “new” was a challenge I learned to navigate. Along the way, I developed a keen sense of the actions groups and communities can take that can leave one feeling either welcomed or sidelined. From my life experience, I developed a personal mission to support people feeling welcomed. Check-in activities are one of the tools I use to accomplish this. Facilitating these activities has been a tremendous experience for me. I have explored the limits of what works (and doesn’t) and have experimented with many ways of creating positive “energy” in groups. I am proud to be the gardener of the HopeLab community and culture and I give great thanks to my colleagues for their encouragement and openness to grow and create with me. For more information please contact me at cmurchison@hopelab.org. Chris
  38. 38. This project is inspired from 30 years of experience with check-in activities – from the many workshops, ropes courses, orientation sessions, retreats and other group experiences I have had the privilege to participate in. These experiences have informed my philosophy and practice and I am grateful. Acknowledgments Many people have helped me learn this craft. I particularly want to acknowledge the following: My student affairs professors, mentors and colleagues The hundreds of students, employees and friends that have engaged in these exercises with me over the years All the facilitators, trainers and OD professionals that I have observed and learned from The staff at Bay Area Theater Sports (BATS) in San Francisco The staff at HopeLab for being the most awesome co-learners and co-creators This project would not have been successful without the contributions of: Diana Chapman for the inspiration to start this project Sheri Jarvis for her artistic gifts and inspiration Liz Song for her gift of photography and for capturing so many of our cultural events at HopeLab Kian Kuan for his well honed design skills Pat Christen, Susan Edsall and Richard Tate for being the best co-conspirators Many thanks to you all!
  39. 39. about t In the late 1980s, HopeLab founder Pam Omidyar spent her days as a research assistant in an immunology lab. At night, after hours watching malignant cancer cells multiply under a microscope, she unwound by playing video games with her husband, Pierre Omidyar, the software engineer who went on to found eBay. As a scientist and game enthusiast, Pam began to wonder if giving young cancer patients a chance to blast their cancer in a video game might actually improve their health. In 2001, Pam founded HopeLab to develop and test this concept, which led to our first product, Re-Mission. Today we continue to harness the power and appeal of technology to improve kids’ health. Our most recent product, Zamzee, is a kid-friendly activity meter designed to get kids moving and ultimately help battle the childhood obesity epidemic. Our future work will explore ways to nurture resilience in young people facing adversity, supporting their sense of purpose, connection and control. The energy and innovation we use in our product development is equally applied to the tending of our organization culture. Read more about HopeLab’s story at www.hopelab.org.