Learning from our past to plan our future: a Historical Scan

I love a great Historical Scan technique when facilitating. I was reminded of the power of the Scan when I used it recently with the board and staff of a large provincial nonprofit organization. They wanted to decide the core services to provide and the organizational model to adopt. I used the Historical Scan to:

– Allow the individuals who are new to the organization to learn its history in a fun and participatory way
– Allow the individuals who are long-term members to share their knowledge and experiences without lengthy and boring presentations
– Help them remember the significant events in their history and build upon them or avoid them
– Give context to the topics

The #HistoricalScan is also known as A Journey Wall or A Wall of Wonder. I learned it from ICA Associates https://ica-associates.ca/. This technique enables a group to review and bring forward significant events from its past, build upon the strengths of its present, and create a roadmap for its future. It typically begins with drawing a horizontal line across a surface (wall, floor) and dividing it into time periods such as years, months, or decades. I used four decades for my client organization which had formed in the early 1990s. Participants then worked in small groups of two or three people. Each group identified and wrote on large cards the events from that decade. We then placed the cards on the timeline, clustered slightly, and talked about them using a Focused Conversation.

At this stage, a group reflects on its experiences and what it learned to move into the future. In my recent facilitated session, the group was able to:
– Celebrate the successes of its first two decades of existence
– Recognize the impact of individuals and events on the third decade
– Identify the ways in the past few years that they recovered and grown.

They talked about the lessons that they learned and how these inform their strategic planning for the next five years. The revelations for this group were significant as they realized how past relationships had negatively affected their organization and how they could mitigate the negativity and build upon their current strengths.

They named the decades: Formation, Growth, Dissension, and Rebirth.

A Historical Scan can go beyond the history of the organization to include community, country, and world events. In this way, it is an excellent Environmental and Trends Scan to identify what is happening in the region and world that could impact the organization.

For an excellent story about using a Historical Scan, read https://lnkd.in/gVkzBgPJ

For a great description, https://lnkd.in/ggiD_55N


Learning from our past to plan our future: a Historical Scan
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