98 Facilitate Teams to Understand the Challenge

YES! AND… Creative Gorilla # 98

Sometimes it is difficult to judge if a group understand the challenge you have, this technique will help you do that…

“Yes! And…Explore World With…Suppose that…Associate…Next idea…Do it now”

Cyriel Kortleven, Crew – New Shoes Today

Facilitate teams to understand the challenge

“Yes! Hand…!”

How might you confirm that everyone in a group has understood a challenge?

Have you ever been to a really entertaining evening where you learned something (and the beer was cheap)? Last week, I attended my first workshop of the London group of the Applied Improvisation Network (AIN).

 The facilitator was Cyriel Kortlevel, who hails from Belgium and works with a creativity company in the Netherlands.

Cyriel treated us to a really enjoyable evening, taking us through an improvised creativity session i.e. using impro to create some ideas for making the AIN successful.

I knew most of the impro exercises, but Cyriel has a neat way of turning them in to creative techniques, especially through using random connections and provocations.

One technique I had not used before was “The Problem Walk” (I don’t much like using the word “problem” due to its negative associations, hence my title).


How does the technique work? After the challenge has been explored, the group stand at one end of an imaginary line. The facilitator stands at the other end of the line and summarises the challenge. He / she asks people to stand somewhere on the line, depending on their understanding of the challenge (you might do a scale where the facilitator stands at ten and the group members stand at a number on the line).

If the group steps up to ten, there is no issue, but if they stand further down the scale, the facilitator can explain further detail or invite questions.  As more explanation is given, people move up the scale. If someone hangs right back, the facilitator can ask “What do you want / need to move closer?”

What I liked about the technique was:

  •  It gives a good snapshot of the group’s understanding
  • It appeals to different styles (visual, aural, kinaesthetic)
  • It is reasonably fast (10 – 15 minutes)
  • Questioning can reveal further facets of the challenge
  • It adds energy to the workshop
  • It is a lot more effective than asking “any questions?”


Use the technique at the next opportunity. I am going to use it in a training course I am currently designing.

By the way, if you would like to make the London AIN successful and you can attend evening workshops in London, why not sign up. Join here:

To Close

Thinking further on the technique, I came up with a few variants (which Cyriel may already use):

  • On a training course, the trainer might use it to ascertain if the trainees understand a key learning point
  • You could use it in a team meeting to clarify understanding of anything
  • If you are really in a hurry, rather than explore the problem using other techniques, you might use only the Challenge Walk
  • If everybody stands by the facilitator at the beginning, the facilitator might ask a couple of individuals to explain the challenge from their view point and verify they really do understand.

I mentioned the cheap beer at the beginning, so here is a plug for Samuel Smiths brewery, based in Yorkshire. Rather than charge London prices for their excellent beer, they charge the same low price all over the country (about £1 cheaper than most London pubs). Highly recommended! The only problem with running an improvisation workshop in one of their pubs is that you might find it difficult to say “improvisation” after a couple of beers.

I have Cyriel and AIN to thank for their excellent event and providing me with this week’s quotation, the anagram of “Yes! And…!

John Brooker I Facilitate, Innovate, Transform.

Read: www.yesand.eu

Call: +44 (0)2 08 8869 9990

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