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  • Writer's pictureJoachim Schwarz

Playground for Change

Use Impact Cards to re-imagine your organisation

The objective of this exercise is to start a conversation about the most fundamental questions that face an organisation. The Impact Cards and the Playground for Change will help you to get the ball rolling - with a simple, intuitive and powerful exercise. It is like a building kit for organisational design, with new elements which you may not have considered or didn't dare to consider.

We now use the Playground for Change in all our work on organisational strategies and organisational change processes.

Here are the main steps.

1. Look at what is at the core of your current identity

The four fields give you a holistic overview of the design of your organisation.

In your team, you will easily identify some cards that make up your core identity. However, you may be surprised about the conversations. There are always some people with different perspectives. The conversation may help you to understand the core identity of your organisation better. It can also help you to re-focus your organisation on its core identity.

... a simple narrative emerges.

In the example above:

Our organisation envisions accountable state institutions.

We create impact by organizing the powerless in groups and networks that hold the state accountable. Together, we run a powerful social media platform to make issues public and offer alternatives to make the state more citizen-centred.

We link up with online fund-raising platforms to enable citizen groups and networks to receive direct donations for their campaigns. However, our main resource is not money, but a growing number of citizens and community leaders that join our grassroots movement.

Our organisational culture is red - for courage and energy, and yellow - for creativity and radical openness.

2. Look at options you may want to consider in the future

While defining your core identity, you probably come across cards, that are interesting and could become important for your organisation in the future. Scout for such cards, which could bring the organisation forward, or help resolve lingering issues in the organization. Those might be options you have considered in the past, but they could not materialize, or completely new options.

This conversation will quickly bring you to some of the most critical questions your organisation faces. Here are a few highlights from our workshops:

  • Our culture is caught in hierarchies and compliance. How can we become more creative and agile?

  • The ways we try to create impact have not changed for years, even though our context has changed dramatically. How can we adopt new strategies and scale our impact in this new context?

  • Our resource mobilization model has a singular focus on funding. How can we mobilize more partners and volunteers for our purpose?

  • Our purpose is great. However, it implies the demand for openness and citizen-centred governance from the state. But does our own organisational culture match those demands?

Such conversations are targeting the heart of the organisation. Give the groups sufficient time to verbalize concerns and options. This is a unique opportunity to talk about fundamental and truly strategic issues.

3. Re-imagine your organisation

As leaders, it is in your hands to re-imagine and reshape your organisation and make it relevant and fit for the future. It is your job to create a vision of the future together with your team and work towards it.

In this step, we would like you to place the cards, that describe your vision of the organisation, on the playground for change. If there are no cards that describe your models well, just write on the board. Narrate the vision, and iterate it in the team.

4. Define priorities and next steps

The final step ensures that the conversation is taken forward and that commitment to change is created.

  • Define the priority areas, which you want to take up first. For instance, you may want to work on the culture first, as this is considered the most central issue.

  • Define a few next steps that will get the ball rolling.

  • Collect verbal commitment from all the team members that are present: What will you do to take this forward?

!Please note! The cards represent a selection, and there will always be cards that are missing. Please post in the feedback, if you feel a specific card is missing. We will consider it in the next version of Impact Cards.

Please find the empty format Playground for Change here:

Playground for Change
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