Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Giveaway Game

I saw this exercise in action at The Writers’ Union of Canada symposium in Vancouver, BC on March 5, when presenter Betsy Warland got the hundred or so attendees to participate. It’s best done, I suspect, after one has done some goal setting and even a bit of navel-gazing.

So, either before a get-together or as part of a meeting, set yourself some goals: write a novel, weed the garden, vacuum the car. Make them SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reasonable, and Timed.

Now for Warland’s game: divide a sheet of paper into two columns. On the right, note what you need in order to achieve your goals. On the left, list skills, assets, and expertise that you’re willing to share. Everyone in the group is filling out their own table.

What I have (and I’m willing to give away)

What I need

Warland did this exercise with groups across the country this winter and saw some remarkable results. The Toronto participants, for example, immediately set up an online group so they could create a network to share their skills.

At the Vancouver session, I watched as someone who needed a quiet place to write connected with someone who had a vacant vacation home; a couple of others who needed help figuring out their computers met people with teaching and technology expertise. There were pleas for help with housework and offers of marketing assistance.

I was struck by how efficient this was, and how quickly it worked. It would be very simple to set up a similar framework in any organization, like a writing group, professional organization, or students in a course.

Can you think of other situations this might work well for?

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