Like literal and proverbial sausage-making and law-making, crafting a new approach to helping people learn consists of a lot of messy first steps. Generally, these are invisible to any intended audience, but I’m about to share some messy thoughts, pictures, and ideas on the way to make some serious sausage in the form of a soft skills learning challenge I continue to work on.
Sharing the process feels a little weird but with Austin Kleon encouraging me to “Share Your Work!” and Dan Roam sharing his own process in developing his new book, “The Pop-Up Pitch,” I feel emboldened to bare my developmental work here.
Ain’t saying it’ll be pretty, but here’s hoping it’ll turn into tasty sausage soon.
I’m using the process Dan Roam describes as a “two-hour sprint to the most persuasive presentation of your life,” the subtitle for his new book. He splits the process into two halves, and I, too will split my results — the sausage-in-process — into two blog posts.
Dan openly offers the tools he has developed at his own site. If you want, feel free to download the templates to follow me work through a short process to prep a pitch for a soft-skills learning game I’ve been envisioning for the last couple of years.
“Telling a good story requires that you first create a bridge between your vision and your words.”
Dan Roam describes the Visual Decoder, The Pop-Up Pitch
So, we start by previsualizing the pop-up pitch., tapping into the visual side of our brains. To better access that side, he uses a tool he has developed, the VISUAL DECODER. Using a big piece of paper, fold it as shown below to create your own Visual Decoder.
Now, using the 6 panels (front & back, 4 inner panels) created, take 2 minutes to fill each in with the appropriate prompt you write atop the panels: Title, Who & What, Where, How Many, When, and Lesson Learned. Quick & simple is the key — all first drafts are perfect!
Here’s what I came up with for what I am preparing:
Clear, concise title that explains why this topic is important and how it will benefit people
Building Skills to Challenge the Future
As suggested, I added a brief note there at the bottom as well: improving your soft skills to improve your future
(maybe should’ve said “situation”)
People directly and indirectly involved as well as concrete objects and abstract concepts
I started by showing me, but I represent anyone offering the challenge. Also impacted are our student interns and our employers.
Concepts involved are shown as well: Soft skills as a fuzzy blob, the Quest — this challenge — and the internship, the framing setting for FlexQuest.
Representation of the physical locations of where the “who & what” are or overlap
Soft skills are pervasive and used everywhere, so they are show as a background. Separate images depict places where soft skills are important: school, internship, and all future work.
Switch to numerical thinking and consider how much change results
This was a little trickier, but FlexQuest focuses on 5 soft skills, and most of the categories can be quantified along the way:
1 quest, weekly missions, daily tasks; 1 secret identity, 2-3 allies, multiple power-ups (as many as work!), several “Bad Guys”, and one immense Epic Win.
With all those elements lined up, draw up a simple timeline or sequence
Sequencing what needs to be done, we see how there are 4 phases: accepting the challenge, building the game (self-directed goal, etc.), a series of week-long missions, and a final Epic Win.
Finally, what is the bottom line message.
This one did not come out as a visual, but I do like the summary (re-phrased from first blush):
Playing this game will help
build the soft skills
to win an endless string of Epic Wins.
Yeah, that oughta do it.
The idea of the visual decoder is to do a quick visual “dump” into a structured template to help you form the story you will be telling with your pitch. Consider the pictures you have crafted. Show it to a friend or colleague. Share your work, they say, so here’s mine for now.
Right about now, I’m on the “intermission step” — pause & let the pictures “percolate.”
See you tomorrow!