Recently I was responsible to lead a group of fellow project manager’s in a brainstorming session. Let me first say I am never more nervous than to try and showcase project management skills in front of a group of project managers. Nonetheless, I wanted to have a forum for soliciting ideas that was fun and interactive but held up to the strict standards of my peers. After some thought, I ended up developing a game that I call Manifesto. The game is simple and I have provided instructions below:
1. Explain to everyone what a manifesto is and how it will be used for this exercise. I provided a definition that I found on the web (see below) and explained we were going to create our declaration for the process we were working on.
2. Provide some examples of a manifesto to give everyone an idea of the type of statement you are looking to make. My favorite was the Expert Enough Manifesto
3. To get started, provide everyone with a blank sheet of paper and a marker. Ask each team member to think about the topic and create a manifesto. Each member should think about his or her goals and beliefs around the topic of discussion.
4. After all team members have finished writing, have everyone post their manifesto on the wall and read each of the statements to the team.
5. Next take a highlighter and mark all the words or ideas the team had in common. This will start to build a sense of collaboration with the team when they see their common ideas across all the statements.
6. As a team, take the common ideas and draft them into a single manifesto that represents the team’s declaration. Post the manifesto for everyone to see and refer back to it when the team starts to get off course.
7. To make the manifesto more interesting we took the common ideas and put them into a wordle (wordle.net). That gave a fun graphical representation that the team could refer back to.
The exercise was a big success! The team gave positive feedback about how it helped the team focus. It also got me thinking about my manifesto as a project manager. What do I aim to be or do as a successful project manager? This seems like something a superhero would explore before coming to truly understand his or her super power. It makes me think of my favorite Spiderman quote
I think that statement could be transformed into a great manifesto. So how do we create a superhero manifesto? In vintage superhero style I will leave that as a cliffhanger until the next episode. In the meantime, I encourage you to try the exercise out with your team.