Groups of people around the world get asked to try and solve all sorts of problems, both big and small. How do people from unique backgrounds come together with their different skills and perspectives to make change happen? We’ve heard stories from all over the world, and while there is no perfect way to make change happen, we know that having a shared process can help groups move in the right direction. The Collective Action Toolkit (CAT), which was launched in 2012 and re-released in a revised edition today, provides a set of activities that enables groups of people to organize, build trust, and collaboratively create solutions for challenges impacting a company or a community. Groups can use and adapt these tools to solve problems, build new skills, and gain important knowledge to better support their needs. The toolkit is part of frogCamp, our approach to sharing the processes that we use with our clients at frog, so that more people can have access to the tools we use to solve challenges every day in multidisciplinary teams. Thousands of problem solvers have downloaded the CAT in the last four years, and sent us valuable feedback about how it can be best used and potentially improved. For example: Point B, an organization in Myanmar, used the exercises in the toolkit to develop a curriculum for training the next generation of change makers in an emerging democracy:
“We started using the CAT because it was the first toolkit that was really made for local people who want to create change in their communities. We used the CAT to build our team and create strategies for how we were going to work together, what kinds of programs/projects we wanted to work on and where we wanted to focus our work.” —Rochelle, educator in Myanmar
Based on the input of people like Rochelle, we set out to do a revision of the CAT. We spoke to and surveyed people to find out how we could further improve it, and potentially extend it into new languages. As a result of what we learned, we refreshed the visual style to improve the overall usability of the toolkit, and added a French-language translation to our English, Chinese, and Spanish editions. Along with these updates, we heard from some toolkit users that they wished there was a simple quick-start guide to get them going with the toolkit. What follows are 5 quick steps you can do with a group to get started with using the CAT. All you need is a group of people, a space to meet, some pencils and paper, and a few hours of time. (We also recommend that you have some snacks on hand.)
Step Two: Share your skills and talents
Start with the “Skill Share” activity from Build Your Group section. After about 30 minutes, your group should ready to take things further with a set of known skills. First, get into groups of 5 to 6 people. Each of you gets two sheets of blank paper and a pencil or a pen. For five minutes, individually write on one sheet of paper:
On the second sheet of paper, take five minutes to create a drawing that expresses who you are and what you like. Over the next 15 minutes, each person in the group takes two minutes to share who they are and what they created. One member of your group should take notes about the group’s overall skills.
Step Three: Identify the challenge you’re trying to solve
We recommend trying the “Find True North” activity from the Clarify Your Goal section. After about 45 minutes, your group will have a shared sense of what you want to accomplish working together. Stand in a circle with your group. One person should have a piece of paper and a pencil to write down what people say during this activity. One at a time, each person should share what he or she wants the group to achieve collectively. The person who has the piece of paper writes all those goals down. Once everyone has shared their goals, each person can place a star next to the top three goals they heard from everyone present. As a group, each person should share why they chose the goals that they did. The goals that received the top votes should then be rewritten on a sheet of fresh sheet of paper that everyone can use as reference.
Step Four: Make a plan for action
Work as a group to develop a timeline for how and when you will achieve these goals. You might also want to decide on the next time you’ll meet together. Your group should now have an area to focus on and a timeline that can guide your group forward. Consider using the “Set the Timeline” activity from the Plan for Action section if you get stuck.
Step Five: Evaluate what you have learned
Now that you’ve done two activities from the toolkit you’re ready to familiarize yourself with the rest of the toolkit and choose your own activity. But first, it’s important that your team reflects on what you have learned. Take about 30 minutes to have your team members fill out a Learning Card. All you need to do is answer three simple questions:
In answering the first and second questions, you and your group members will be able to discuss how the previous activities went. If anyone in your group feels like the activities weren’t successful, you can ask them what you might want to change in the future to make the group more successful. For the last question, invite your group to look through the toolkit to decide what activity would be most appropriate to try next. In the coming months, we will be sharing more stories from CAT users around the world, so we can continue to grow a strong network of people who are working together to make change in their communities. Stay tuned for a future post to find out how to keep your group and your goals moving forward.
Kara Pecknold is a Vice President of Regenerative Design at frog. For 20+ years, she has been supporting her clients to transform their products, services, teams and business models. As a global lead of sustainability within the Capgemini Group, she works at the intersection of people and planet by marrying creativity with science to better shape the future of the Next Economy organization.
David Sherwin is a Fellow at frog, co-founder of Ask The Sherwins, LLC and co-author with Mary Sherwin of Turning People into Teams: Rituals and Routines That Redesign How We Work (Berrett Koehler, 2018).
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