Moving from Ideas to Action: Nine Simple Ways for Workshops

In author Daniel Pink's most recent "infrequent and irreverent" enewsletter (you should subscribe), he highlighted six book recommendations in a simple, but powerful way: sharing a core idea from the book's content and his take (or one from the book) on how to put it in action. By making these takeaways explicit, Pink helped me determine if I might wish to read the book itself.

Moving from ideas to action is a goal for many (if not most) learning experiences and content in all forms.  Yet often we leave this up to readers or learners to do for themselves. Nothing is wrong with doing so, but in our information-overloaded world, we may wish to emulate Pink's approach to increase the value of the content we share.

Let me model doing so with this post.  The Idea: using an Ideas+Action summary to increase the value of a learning experience and to facilitate insight sharing among workshop participants.

The Actions: Here are ways to use this format and tool during an in-person session.
  1. Create a workshop handout with multiple Idea+Action spaces. Throughout your program (after major content blocks, before a change in topic, or at other logical intervals) invite participants to reflect on the session and to complete one or more Idea+Action blocks to capture their learning. Here's a PDF of a takeaway sheet I used for a recent masterclass that is similar in spirit.
  2. In the workshop outline/schedule shared with participants list the core idea for each content segment and provide a blank action space for participants to complete as the session progresses.
  3. Make Idea+Action cards. Have learners complete and post during a session. Invite people to browse others' learning during breaks or schedule a "Gallery Walk" for them to do so as a part of your actual session content. Scan all cards and distribute a PDF of them post-session.
  4. Or do a rapid "read and pass" of all the completed Idea+Action cards. Have people pass their card to another, read the one they are given, and then repeat until time is called and cards are returned to their creators (make sure to add names to cards to facilitate this).  To add a bit of physical energy you could have people stand during the exercise.  People also could dot vote on ideas they really like and top vote-getters could then verbally expand on their thinking.
  5. You could pair people for a Think-Pair-Share. Individuals note an idea on a card and then trades cards with
    their partner who then completes the action section. Cards are swapped back and the ideas are discussed. Pairs could join together, swap cards, note additional possible actions, return cards, and discuss.
  6. Mindmap the ideas+actions. Provide a mindmap with all of the ideas noted. Participants branch off the ideas noted and add actions associated with each one. The mindmaps could be personal size, poster size for tables to complete as a small group, or mural size to decorate a wall in your meeting room.
  7. Do an Ideas+Action Drawing. Have participants complete cards and place in a box or bowl when instructed.  Periodically during your session draw a few completed cards, give a prize to the people who submitted them, and invite them to expand in their takeaway.
  8. Display a core idea as a slide and invite participants to Tweet corresponding actions using a specific hashtag to facilitate post-session searching.
  9. Engage small groups in moving from ideas to actions. Provide a few cards to small groups and have each group's reflect on a content segment and note one core theme/idea per card. Have groups swap their cards with another group. Each group now notes possible actions related to the ideas on each card. Repeat this swapping process as desired.  
    What are other simple ways you find effective to facilitate workshop participants capturing core ideas and identifying useful actions?