How to capture a workshop process with pictures

Catching Pigs graphic facilitation

Graphic facilitation with 3Stick Men

I met Lita Currie two and half years ago when I was working on a process design for SAB and she was working there. Since then Lita had started her own facilitation consultancy in Graphic facilitation. To market her work, she generously did the graphic harvesting of our last Pig Catching session.

The large rolls of paper are put up on my office wall and everyone who walks in first says “Wow, beautiful handwriting!” and then: “What is it??” I explain that it is graphic facilitation and that it is a documentation of one of my workshop processes done by Lita from 3Stickmen.

It never fails to impress, but more than that, people see the value of it as a meaningful documentation process. No-one is likely to stick it in a drawer and forget about it.

If you want to get Lita to do this for you, or learn from her how to do it yourself, Contact her or visit the 3Stickmen website.

Catching Flying Pigs graphic facilitation 2

Our Pig Catching process she captured dealt with the question: ‘How do we put Africa on the global economic map?‘ Janet du Preez who facilitated the process did a masterful job of blending her own work on employee engagement with the SNE methodology she has learned from Playing Mantis.

In the group was a mixture of organisation development practitioners and applied drama facilitators and both groups were mesmerized by the process. One of the applied drama facilitators was deeply intrigued by Janet’s innovative use of well known processes.

Read more about this next week.

More about Lita and 3Stickmen

Are people falling asleep in your training sessions?

Worried that your conference will be boring?

Use hand-drawn pictures created in real time to promote interest and engagement! Let us create a visual record of your conference, your workshop or your meeting. Your audience will remember it forever.

Your audience can see the discussion taking place as it is captured on a big piece of paper. It helps people think more creatively, make connections previously not seen and create commitment and engagement.

Contact 3Stickmen for a free quote.

Or visit the 3Stickmen website.

3Stickmen Intro to Graphic Facilitation intro course

Yes lets


• Build positive energy.
• Practice acceptance and appreciation.


Participants suggest random activities to be done by the group. The rest of the participants support these suggestions by responding enthusiastically with the words “Yes lets!” and then mime the suggested activities eagerly.

Time: 15 min

Number of participants: 6 – 20

Game flow:

Have everyone walk around in the space. Tell them that anyone in the group can make a suggestion for an action such as “Let’s climb a tree!” or “lets bake a cake!” Everyone then replies with the words “Yes lets!”, and mimes the action with enthusiasm. At any point someone else can make a new suggestion and everyone replies again with “Yes lets!” and again mimes the action. Continue until everyone has made at least one suggestion.


For this exercise you need enough space for everyone to move around.
Encourage everyone in the group to make at least one suggestion.

Debrief questions:

• How do you feel after playing this exercise?
• What was interesting about the exercise?
• How did it feel to have your suggestions supported with so much enthusiasm?
• How did it feel to support other’s ideas with so much enthusiasm?


The best way to make your team members look good is by accepting their suggestions and doing the action with enthusiasm. If someone said something like “let’s roar like lions” and just did it by himself, he would look like a fool and probably feel like one as well. What I love about this game is that you don’t just say yes I like your idea; you actually have to accept the idea by doing something with commitment. Often we will say we accept someone’s ideas but it’s just lip service, because we don’t actually take any action. The safety, trust and support that is generated when everyone in the team is committed to making the rest of the team look good, creates a energetic atmosphere in which innovation can thrive.



• Building energy.
• Accepting offers.
• Practice appreciation.
• Practice creativity.


Participants hand each other imaginary gifts. The giving participant only makes a physical offer, while the receiving participant names the gift and accepts it with enthusiasm.

Time: 15 min

Number of participants: 2 – 200

Game flow:

Have the participants stand in a circle. If there are more than 12 players let them pair up. Tell them to hand each other imaginary gifts. The giver only makes a physical gesture with their hands. The receiver then justifies the shape and weight of the giver by naming it appropriately. The receiver over accepts the gift with enthusiasm as if it is the one thing they have always wanted.


When doing the game in a circle let them pass gifts around the circle. In other words everyone gives a gift to the person on their left or right. Only one person gives a gift at a time while the others observe. When doing it in pairs the partners just give each other gifts.

Debrief questions:

• What was interesting about the exercise?
• How did it feel to have your gift appreciated like this?
• What did it feel like receiving the gift?
• How does this apply to creativity and collaboration?

Online adaptations

Since people in an online room cannot stand in a circle or make eye contact to connect with each other, the following adaptations can be made:

  1. The names of participants are visible on the screen, these names may be changed by participants if they wish. These names can be used in the game so that the participant wanting to pass a gift simply call the name of the person they wish to pass their gift to before doing so.
  2. Participants may also be given a number alongside their name as they enter the room. These numbers may be used to establish an order and in this manner replace the convention of a circle for deciding order.
  3. Encourage people to use distance from the camera as a way to create variety in the size and quality of the gift:  move away from the camera for big gifts that require large movements and come closer for smaller gifts and smaller movements.

Circus bow


• Illustrates the improv practise of accepting mistakes.
• Building trust
• Encourages risk taking and creating a safe climate.


In a circle participants each get a chance to step forward, say “I failed” and bow.  After each bow the rest of the participants give a warm round of applause.

Time: 10 min

Number of participants: Any (for larger groups, or where participants seem cautious and tense , divide them in smaller circles or in pairs)

Game flow:

Have the participants stand in a circle.  Tell them that everyone will get the chance to step forward into the circle, then say anything in the line of “I made a mistake” or “I failed” and then give a big bow.  The rest of the group then give a round of applause.


If the group is very comfortable with each other let them share a real mistake or failure.   When sharing is personal and authentic it paves the way to vulnerability and this enhances experiences immensely.

This exercise is called circus bow, because whenever a trapeze artist makes a mistake and falls down into the net, he will make a summersault out of the net and bow towards the audience as if that was exactly what was supposed to happen.

This exercise may seem silly in writing, but try it and see what surprising results you get.  Remember in order to be brilliant you have to risk being foolish.

Debrief questions:

• How did it make you feel being applauded for stating that you made a mistake?
• How did it feel to applaud the others?
• What can we learn from this exercise?
• How can we help each other to feel safe to take risks?

“Yes and” exercise

“Yes and” is a phrase that improvisers use to describe the principle of accepting ideas and building on them.  This principle is important for any team that wants to develop an innovative team climate (click here for an article on innovative team climate).

Here is a quick exercise to introduce the principle of “Yes and” to your team. Let everyone pair up with a partner.  Tell them that together they have to plan a company Christmas party.  One must start by sharing an idea. The other replies with the words “Yes but”, and a reason why the afore mentioned idea cannot work, and then this participant shares another idea. The first then replies with “yes but” and so they go back and forth blocking each other’s ideas.  After a while stop them and ask them to plan the same party but this time instead of saying “yes but” they must start their sentences with “yes and”, accepting the other’s idea and building on it. Reflect on the exercise and ask the following questions.

  • How did accepting feel different from blocking?
  • How were their outcomes different?
  • How did they feel about the other person when being blocked or being accepted?
  • What are the benefits and the costs of accepting?
  • What are the benefits and costs of blocking?

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Team Innovation Workshop

A half day workshop for managers and team leaders who want to learn practical ways to develop their team’s ability to collaborate and innovate.

Contact us to make a booking or find out more.

Innovation, Teamwork and Improvisation

The world of work is characterised by high levels of uncertainty due to constant change, forcing organisations to innovate recurrently in order to survive. Researchers agree that working as part of a team plays a very important role in the process of innovation within organisations, as teams stimulate creativity and innovation. The development of Team Innovation is therefore crucial to help organisations to adapt faster to the demands of change. This emphasis on team innovation is very prevalent in value statements and guiding principles of many organisations.

Having teamwork and innovation as values laminated on your wall is however not going to improve your team’s ability to work more creatively together. Having people work in teams and expecting them to therefore automatically be more innovative, often has the opposite effect. Individuals become in many cases less innovative when they work in a team. The reason for this is the nature of the team’s climate. Team climate refers to the shared perceptions of team members in terms of what is expected of them, work standards, recognition and their feelings about their manager and one another.

The following table shows the characteristics of an innovative team climate in contrast to a non innovative team climate.

Innovative team climate Non-innovative team climate
All the members participate in discussions and decision making. Members don’t participate and decisions are made by the most dominating person.
Members are aware of others and listen to one another. Members don’t listen to one another.
Members take risks and make it safe for others to take risks by accepting failures. Members don’t take risks and ridicule others who take risks that fail.
Control is shared by the whole group.  Individuals take initiative and allow others to take initiative . Control belongs to one person and others aren’t empowered to take initiative.
Ideas are appreciated and there is a high level of trust and support amongst team members. Members don’t trust or support one another and ideas are criticised rather than appreciated.
Members accept and build on each other’s ideas. Members block each other’s ideas.
Members share a clear and common goal. The goal is not clear and not shared by everyone in the team.

So is your team’s climate innovative or non-innovative?  And if it is non-innovative, how can one change it to become innovative?

This was the question that I grappled with when I was doing my Masters research in Industrial Psychology. I looked for teams who succeeded in working together in a team, very creatively under high pressure and much uncertainty, to see what I could learn from them. I found such teams in a place very out of the ordinary, namely Improvisational Theatre. Improv theatre groups work together very creatively under the pressure of a demanding audience and the uncertainty of having no script. How could these people do something so daunting that most people would rather die than do? And this may also be exactly the reason why most teams tend to be more non-innovative that innovative – it is because being creative is scary. It is making yourself vulnerable in front of others. Yet, somehow improvisers have found a way to make it safe and to create a team climate in which creativity can thrive. Improvisers do this by applying a few basic principles of which I will share two in this article.  These are 1) appreciation and 2) building on ideas or in Improvisation lingo … as 1) “make your partner look good” and 2) “yes and”.

In her book, “Time to think”, Nancy Kline emphasizes the importance of appreciation to create a thinking environment. This appreciation of another’s idea is described in Improv by the phrase “Make your partner look good”. It means that when a fellow player makes an offer you make him/her look good by accepting it with enthusiasm. This relates in an organizational context that whatever idea your team members share, you don’t make them feel foolish for sharing it.  You regard their offer as a gift of great value. When team members start appreciating each other’s ideas by focusing on the value of the idea instead of criticising it and looking for reasons why it won’t work it builds trust amongst the members and people start feeling safe to share their ideas.

It doesn’t stop with appreciating ideas however. After you appreciated your team member’s idea, build on it. Actors in an Improvisation theatre group call this acceptance and building on ideas the “yes and” principle. When an idea is not accepted, it is called a “block”. The way we often block one another in real life is by saying “yes but”. Most people are more used to saying “yes but” than “yes and”. Every time someone shares an idea and it is blocked by another team member, the likelihood that the person will share another idea is diminished. Therefore to create an atmosphere that promotes idea sharing, start applying the “yes and” principle.

The “yes and“ principle is more a mindset than anything else. In her TED talk entitled “Improv not just for comedy anymore”, Cat Koppet states that applying “yes and” doesn’t mean that you agree with everyone, but rather that you accept others reality. It is a mindset of accepting a situation and doing something useful with it. Kline notes that the human mind works best in the presence of a whole picture of reality. This contains positive and negative aspects. Most of the time there are more positives than negatives in the complete picture of a situation. Carol Painter, the developer of the Negative Reality Norm Theory, states that according to society a realistic picture of reality is more negative than positive.  Being positive is regarded as naïve and vulnerable. Whereas being critical is informed and sophisticated. Therefore most organizations function on this negative norm, resulting in the pervasiveness of “yes butting” and team climates that stifle innovation.

Right now you might think “yes, but I can’t say yes to all ideas all the time”.  Yes and you might be saying this because you are already in a mindset of “blocking” rather than “accepting”. It is true there are appropriate times to block, but they are far less than appropriate times to accept. Try the “yes and” principle for a day and see what happens.

Click here for an exercise to introduce the “yes and“ principle to your team.

Team Innovation Workshop

A half day workshop for managers and team leaders who want to learn practical ways to develop their team’s ability to collaborate and innovate.

Date: 20 May
Time: 9:00 – 13:00
Venue: Stellenbosch
Contact Burgert on 0822559625 or

Why do we lose our creativity when we grow up?

Have you ever watched small children play? I’m always astounded by their imaginations and creative ideas. We’ve all been creative as children, but why or how do we lose this creativity?

Recently I listened to a talk by Eckhard Tolle called “The Journey within”. In his talk he says that creativity doesn’t come from thought but from a place of stillness. I tested this theory by asking my wife, who is the most creative person I know ,what happens just before she gets a creative idea. After a brief moment of silence she said in her metaphoric way of speaking, “There is stillness. It’s like the wind dies down and there is this moment of utter quiet and then the creative ideas come like a cloud burst. First just one large drop falls into the dry sand then it is followed by this shower of creativity.” “What is the wind?” I asked. “Its thoughts” she replies. I concluded that Eckhard is right. A creative idea isn’t a thought that you manufacture in your mind by trying really hard. The term “creative thinking” is therefore an oxymoron. Isn’t it unfortunate that school only taught us to think and not to be creative by not thinking?

It is also crutial that you trust your own creativity. All people are creative; we just lose it over time. The good news is we can reclaim it. The first step is to be still, and trust. Improv helps one to do this. A great improv game that helps to develop this trust in one’s own creativity is called Freeze Tag. In this game 2 people start a scene. At any moment anyone else can say freeze and tap out one of the players. He/she then takes that player’s position and starts a new scene in a completely new context justifying the position. A variation of this game is called Pimp Freeze Tag. In the variation an outside person calls freeze and tell the participants who should go in and replace another player. This way you don’t have time to think about what you want to do. You just have to trust yourself and see what arises. Participants in my improv class often comment that it is easier to come up with something good if they didn’t have time to think about it.

The next step is to trust the other player that they will take your creativity and do something with it – accept it and build on it (“yes and” it). I believe that the reason why we are afraid to trust our own creativity is because we are so use to other people rejecting our creativity and not accepting it. We all know how much rejection hurts. For most people it is not worth taking that risk anymore, so they label themselves as uncreative to protect themselves from rejection.

Now it’s your turn. Become still. Focus on the sounds around you. Become aware of your breathing. Write down in a comment below what arises.

Team innovation through improvisation – Part 1

Click here for more information about our Team Innovation through Improvisation Workshops.


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Changes in business environments have resulted in a need for the development of innovative teams, because it is through teams that the management of change through innovation is achieved. One of the factors that play a crucial role in the innovation shown by teams is the climate for innovation within the team. This climate is the same as the climate prevalent in an improvisation theatre group who respond to ideas from their audience, fellow actors and the scenario quickly and creatively and in collaboration with one another. Research has shown that the exercises used by improvisation actors can be used to enhance the innovative climate in a work team. Neuroscience also supports improvisation as an experiential learning tool. Applied improvisation is an emerging field and business schools all over the world are starting to include it as part of their leadership and innovation courses.

The 7 crucial elements of an innovative team climate:

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There are 7 elements that play an important role in an innovative team climate. These elements are Communication, Risk, Control, Ideas, Relationship, Vision and Excellence. In each of these elements each team member has a responsibility towards him/herself and a responsibility towards his/her team members. All of these elements are interrelated and need to work together to create an innovative team climate.

Watch this space for a discussion of each of these elements.

Click here to read part 2 – Communication
Click here to read part 3 – Risk
Click here to read part 4 – ControlIntroduction