Steps for the Activity

  1. Break into small groups of no more than 5 with one Project Lead with a problem: e.g. I want to make my project more open source. The Project leader briefs their "Consultants" on the problem for 5 minutes, then turns their back.
  2. The consultants talk about what they would advice, except they're ABSURD consultants. They take everything to extremes. Their first round of advice is framed "How to make this project FAIL with relation to this problem." I.e. How would they make the project SUPER secretive?

    Open Source FAIL

    • Write all documents in Ancient Sumerian!
    • Triple encrypt those documents
    • Bury the password under a pyramid guarded by an army of Chihuahuas.
  3. The project lead listens and takes notes, then reports back after 10-15 minutes what they heard that was loud or insightful, what sounded similar to something that's already true, and what that suggests they should stop doing.

    Actually, this sentence is pretty close to Sumerian: The IGF goal, as agreed by the EDM is to achieve significant reduction of TR and Boreal degradation by 2020 against 2010, with special emphasis on threatened HCV forests (including IFLs).

    Maybe we should write our strategies for a public audience to avoid insider jargon & expert speak that excludes others.

  4. In a second round, the absurd consultants make recommendations for taking the project to the EXTREME end of the shift: how to make it so open you'd be afraid to recommend such a crazy idea.

    Open Source EXTREME

    • Campaigner’s email and skype on website with “Call Anytime with Questions”
    • Planning meetings in public squares with Frontliners inviting public in
    • Put your planning calendar on the outside wall of your office facing the street with targets listed.
    • Publish the password to our Twitter account
  5. Have participants report back again what's loud and insightful, what sounds like something we already do or should do, and what that suggests we should start doing.

    Maybe we wouldn’t let EVERYONE have our Twitter password, but we could give it to a celebrity or a trusted supporter with lots of followers for a day as "Guest Host."

  6. Have the groups come together to share their recommendations and discuss the ideas surfaced during the activity. Participants hold a conversation between the project leads role playing a debrief to one another about their wacky consultants. Have notetakers capture STOP DOING and START DOING action points. Having a conversation is more fun and engaging than a summary report back.


  • Markers
  • Flip charts
  • Imagination


How did imagining campaigns in such binary and extreme ways help you understand the shift you were working on? What interesting and innovative ideas were surfaced through this method?


Thanks to Heather for the image used in the header icon