Introducing the Global Collaboration Cue Card Project

I had an opportunity to present for 60 minutes as part of the Council for Communication Management conference in Toronto on May 1st. The CCM brings communication professionals together to brainstorm, share best practices, network, etc. I think I stretched some of the participants’ minds a little bit, talking about Wicked Problems, Collaborative Event Design, Graphic Facilitation. My presentation was a bit off the beaten path but I hope that it was engaging for most of the crowd.

The way in which I started my presentation was to give each person in the room (about 60) a blank, unruled cue card and asked them to illustrate, without the use of words, how they would communicate the notion of “collaboration” to a person who couldn’t speak their language. I gave them a minute to do that and when they were done, asked them to find a partner and on a third cue card create an illustration that combined each partner’s work.

I then dissected the exercise a little bit and talked about how words are in fact models that are loaded with assumptions and values and how communicating with graphics is an effective method for conveying underlying and unspoken meaning.

The Global Collaboration Cue Card Project

As a result of this exercise, I am now endeavoring to spearhead….drumroll please…The Global Collaboration Cue Card Project. With the length of this title and all of the capital letters, I feel as though I should be announcing this at TED or some such conference. It’s not that impressive. All I’m doing is posting all of the cue cards that I get on a Flickr group and I hope that others will copy the activity and add to the set. It would be very cool to see how many different interpretations of collaboration can be created and what common visual themes exist. And it’s all done without words!


9 responses to “Introducing the Global Collaboration Cue Card Project

  1. excellent exercise.

  2. Thanks! Feel free to add to it. The Flickr group is open to the public so don’t be shy in adding pictures.

  3. I really like this exercise! I can see how you could use this exercise within the context of a group problem solving session or a public meeting or even a mediation between two parties. Moving from words (which can be adversarial in certain settings) to pictures. Gets people into a different mindset / way of thinking and involves everyone at the same time.

  4. Indeed! Words are often loaded with all kinds of assumptions and connotation. Using visuals strips away some of that and allows people to focus on co-creating a model that has elements of both (or multiple) people’s work.

  5. Pingback: Global Cue Card Project Additions « Whitespace

  6. Very cool indeed! I was wondering if the use of color on the cue cards was useful or not. When I took at look at all of them I did see a few individuals used red, and was wondering, from your point of view if this was of benefit, or, was it a distraction and something you were trying to stay clear of?

  7. Hey L,

    The logistics of the exercise would normally preclude the use of colour as I would usually give a ball point pen and a cue card. Most people don’t usually carry coloured markers with them. That said, I think colour certainly adds an extra a dimension to the exercise and I would encourage it.

    I think it still falls within the direction of “explain collaboration to another culture without using words” as colour is a pretty ancient form of communication. I officially approve! Until convinced otherwise.

  8. Pingback: Collaboration Cue Card Project: An Insight! « Whitespace

  9. Pingback: Collaboration Cue Card Project: An Insight! : Omakase Group

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