- Time needed: 90-120 minutes.
- Participants: 5-8 per group.
- Pencils (1 per participant)
- Rubbers / erasers (1 per table)
- A5 post-cards on 300gsm paper (~3 per person)
- Timeline ( 1 per group)
- Blue/white-tack (to stick cards to the timeline)
- 2 x A1 paper – taped to form the timeline (1 per table)
- A constructive team ice-breaker.
- To engage all partners in small group work to build an understanding of different stakeholder goals and to reach consensus on a common vision .
- A simple approach to back-casting.
The general idea is to get the participants to back-cast a successful project (looking back from say 2030) and envision collectively, milestones required and how they would have contributed to it.
- Small groups of 5-7 people, mixed (public authorities, academics, SMEs, NGOs – think in terms of stakeholders).
- A blank timeline between now and the said future date (say 2030).
- Participants will write a short personal postcards. The addressee will be a child that will grow up during the course of the thirteen years.
- Each postcard requires the participant to complete two parts. Firstly a short personal message about an achievement, a milestone, an activity – and why this achievement, a milestone or activity was important. Secondly a drawing or image of that moment.
Each postcard is read out loud in the group and then placed on the timeline (2-3 minutes per card). People take turns. Whoever begins, picks any moment in time they think is most relevant. This will get the ball rolling and create a conversation. The postcards will build on each other, pick up themes. The individual messages will turn into a story about how a specific project in a specific city turned out to be a success. The addressees are children that grow up during the course of the project but this means that the children also are able to understand more complex language and concepts as the project evolves. Writing to a child will keep the language simple, emotional, optimistic.
For a 90 minute exercise, each participant gets three postcards. The objective is for the participants to project themselves into a desirable future, think about what they want to achieve, identify activities, conflicts and results that they will be proud of. But doing so in a conversation with the postcards from others.
In the end each group will have a coherent narrative spanning for the projected period of time (such as until 2030) including different phases of ideation, research, implementation, evaluation, multiplication…and everything else that people want to do. The participants paste their card onto the timeline, which illustrates the key moments across the length of the project. The result is a collaborative “vision” of how things could turn out.