Originally blogged at the Mental Models Game -tumblr site.
Just got an email from a student in USA about the Mental Models Game, as they had to do a presentation about mental models for their class. Being initially a student project of mine, I got excited to help, and wrote this mini version of the game. I also want to share it here, as I have been thinking again to push this project a little further inspired by Jussi Galla and Ville Häll, and their card game to help support marketing. Below you can see my response to an inquiry for the game to be used in a 25 min presentation about Mental Models.
The game itself is still in a prototype form in my shelve. I suppose to get the actual card game would take too long time for your class, and also, 25 mins is a short time for the entire game. However, I think you can do a quick prototype of it in a class setting very well. How the game goes, or could go in your case is following:
1. Welcome everyone to the game – tell them about the rule, that there should be respectful dialogue, no judgement, and only one conversation at a time in small teams.
2. Introduce the concept of mental models to the participants in few minutes, refer to ideas of the fifth discipline, share stories that illustrate why mental models make a difference
3. Round one, divide people into small groups of 3-4 persons, and give them 3-5 minutes time to share their mental models of something easy or funny, e.g. What is your mental model of a good dinner or party? The first question should be about something that everyone has a mental model of, and that is relatively easy to articulate as well.
4. Round two, mix groups, and give another question, this time it can be more to the topic of the class, e.g. what is your mental model of a good leadership? Or what is your mental model of a good team player? Here it is important that you include adjective in front of the topic, here it was “good” in both. You can play with words and use more explosive terms, such as “insanely good”, “great” or something alike. I think it should be something that spurs emotions and provokes stories for people to share. The main point is to share stories and ways we think. Give people 5 mins time this round. You can ask people to mix teams before they start the dialogue.
5. Ask people to come up with questions, deliver everyone an empty piece of cardboard or paper. Give them 1 minute or less to come up with a question, that includes adjective and the word mental model in it. Preferably also it should be an open question, honest inquiry.
6. Collect the cards, shuffle them, and pick up randomly.
7. Last round(s) can be from the questions people have created for the game.
8. Finally, you can do a check out, ask everyone to share how they liked the game, what they learnt, or what was meaningful for them.
* A nice addition is to ask people to draw their mental models. Give only 1 minute time to draw, and then share in small teams.
* You can also shuffle the team sizes if you have time e.g. But the challenge is that bigger group dialogue takes easily more time. In small teams more people get to share their mental models.
Please feel free to use the game; apply it, twist, modify etc as you wish. What I would like is to get as a feedback is a little reflection how it went, maybe just answer to following questions in an email from you your group:
1. What went well?
2. What didn’t go well?
3. What did we learn?
4. What would we do differently next time?
5. Other reflection / feedback / ideas?
Best yellow regards from Finland,
Ville / firstname.lastname@example.org
Ps. The picture is by the genius illustrator Juha-Matti Kinnunen, who used to do some illustrations for us earlier on.