The other day, I participated in a fun activity - Virtual Agile Art facilitated by Giada Crispiels. We participated on our phones and through Google docs.
The instructions were that we would doodle for a while on our own, in the company of others in the same Google doc in our own spaces, and then doodle in a "community" setting in Google and talk to each other on the phone along the way. I knew only 1 person there before I participated (Elinor Slomba) - everyone else was new to me.
We started the activity by doodling. That took a lot of pressure off us to make a perfect drawing. We drew what came naturally to us. And it was fun was to watch other people doodle. Some made real drawings (a rooster, a bouquet of flowers), some made lines, some made squiggles, and I made curves and squiggles that I colored in (I always color corners and such. And yes, I color outside the lines!).
The best part was doodling together in a single, open space. It was like we were working together, but not on the same vision. Some on the call noticed how our doodles were starting to converge, in a way, with similar shaping and colors. In a way, we were getting a vision together.
It was a wonderful experience to work with others I haven't met before, online in real-time, reacting to a situation. I can't wait to do it again! And I learned a bunch from it.
What I learned about groups and virtual teams:
- It's natural for a group of people to come to consensus - even if they live and work far away from each other. Once they start interacting, the best of everyone in the team emerges and the co-creating takes on a new level and persona.
- You can learn a lot about people by their doodles and how they interact with other doodles. And it's a fun way to test the waters about collaboration.
- Usually we collaborate to produce - it's rare that we can collaborate to create. We should be doing more of this! It's liberating!
- What you do in meetings, in-person is similar to what you do on the phone and on a live, shared screen. I couldn't stay in the meeting longer, but I wanted to ask the others on the phone a bunch of questions about who they are, what they do, etc. I was a little challenged because I had a meeting right after and was at a client site, but if I did this focused in a room with no meeting to run to, I would have been trying to get to know the others on the call. And I would have done the same in person if I had to run to a meeting right after - clock watch and stay silent. We don't act too differently online or offline.
- There were some technical challenges - but they weren't insurmountable. Some had issues with the phone or Google docs here and there, but it wasn't a show stopper from participating (almost as if a marker were broken or something similar). It's about perspective.
What I learned about myself:
- I don't like lines/boundaries to keep me restrained. When our personal boxes for doodling were removed, I felt relieved and happier.
- When I doodle, I like to draw "s" shapes and give a 3D shading to things. I also like to color in corners and gaps. I reflected on this later and in many ways, that's reflective of my personality - I usually find gaps and like to fill them in, adding value to the end product where there's space to do it.
- I prefer working in a group setting. It was ok for me to doodle in my box alone, but I much preferred the experience figuring out where to doodle with everyone else.
- I enjoy adding to other people's work and not working alone. I had fun making my s's and coloring corners, but I felt like I added more value doing that in a larger doodle setting.
- To me, being virtual isn't isolating. I was hanging on the phone, kinda quiet, but I'm always quiet around new people.
I look forward to the next virtual adventure in Agile Art!