Framing participants to think in specific categories

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Today I am sharing something I stumbled across coincidentally: the effect of combining to methodologies for structured thinking.

Often I use “The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.” (G/B/U) as some sort of activation exercise to let the participant’s minds dive into the day’s subject.

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. Work Canvas for a group workshop activation.
The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. (Work Canvas)

Due to the distinction between “the bad” and “the ugly”, people are forced to consider “severity”, when it comes to thinking about the effect of a particular experience, for example.

“Bad” is something that one might learn from, or that will contribute to building new experiences. “Ugly” is something that should be prevented or avoided at all cost in the future.

So far, so good…

In a recent workshop, the exercise after G/B/U was built on the so-called “Challenge Quadrant”. It’s a simple way to make participants visualise the negative(!) impact of a challenge on, e.g. company profits (on the y-axis) and customer satisfaction (on the x-axis).

The “Challenges Quadrant”

The exercise is slightly unusual for most participants because there is no positive effect on both scales. The least impact can be “annoying but bearable”, visualised by the smiley with the line-like mouth.

What I noticed in that particular workshop was, that participants started referencing the classification of experiences they had captured in the G/B/U-module. It seemed to help the thought process and make it easier for them to classify the severance of the challenge’s impact on profits and satisfaction on the quadrant. Their thinking was more “fine tuned”.

Furthermore, they had almost no problem with the fact that there was no “positive impact” as an available position in the quadrant.

I will repeat this little experiment in other workshops and see if it was a one-off experience or an “accidentally well-designed sequence.”