Journals for Future Forward

Early in January, Eugene and I met to brainstorm what the storytelling practice would look like. We had three goals:

  1. sharing what we are learning with others
  2. individual sensemaking of the unfamiliar experience
  3. collective synthesis of the emergent process

and two requirements. Storytelling for Future Forward needed to be:

  1. shared. Storytelling would be the responsibility of all participants.
  2. real-time. We would tell the story as it unfolds.

To meet our goals and requirements for real-time sharing and synthesis, we decided to use a tool called Yammer (essentially a private Facebook for groups) and this public blog. But what would our tools and practice for individual sensemaking be?

The blog and Yammer were technological choices. If for texture alone, I wanted to design an analog practice for individual sensemaking. Personal journals were a natural direction for private reflection, but Eugene needed to review the reflections for the iterative design of his muscles and mindsets program. I also needed to see the reflections for ongoing synthesis.

We finally landed on journaling combined with sharing photos of notebook pages on the Yammer water cooler. This process design had two additional benefits: Participants could see each other’s takeaways, which would spur conversations and meaning-making. And sharing these breadcrumbs would be scaffolding for the blogging which would begin a few weeks into the process.

At the kickoff in January, we gave each participant a journaling kit. The kit contained two small notebooks, colored pencils, pen, pencil, marker, eraser, gluestick, and sharpener. During a paired checkin activity, participants took notes in their journals while listening to their partners talk about their hopes for Future Forward. We then asked them to capture takeaways with their phones and share the photos on the Yammer stream. We took the opportunity while we were face-to-face to practice the sharing process, starting with getting the app on all of our phones!


Fast-forward to the second week of April. We are now in week 7 of our muscles and mindsets program. We’ve been doing weekly one-hour workouts in pairs, and sharing reflections on the water cooler. I’ve been harvesting the reflection artifacts and making lightly synthesized collages.

The participants have enjoyed using color and visuals in addition to words for their takeaways. Drawings and handwriting make the Yammer posts much more engaging. A few participants tend to be over-critical of their own artistic ability, so that’s been an opportunity to work on letting go of perfection. We’ve all been working on our mindsets and muscles for sharing, myself included—accessing our abundance mindset, embracing failure and the unknown. Participants are ready to begin blogging, so stay tuned for more of the Future Forward story from their perspectives.

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