Solo Reflection

Purpose: Giving participants some white space to reflect on what’s emerging for them during the process can help clarify ideas, diminish conflict, and process emotions that may be coming up for them. Often we give participants solo time immediately after journalling, but it can be valuable at other times too. Posing a question(s) helps focus their energy/attention.

Materials: A piece of flip-chart paper with the reflection question(s) on them.

Time: 30-45 mins

Step one: Explain the importance and necessity of white space in the innovation process. Make the invitation to go outside, leaving phones and email behind. However, the invitation to take solo time should be seen as an invitation, and participants are encouraged to do whatever they need to in this time - including seeking someone to speak to if needed.

Step two: Pose the question for participants to reflect on (will depend on the group and what they need at that time).

Step three: Let participants know the time to be back in the room, and what will follow the solo time (debrief, break, another activity) so that they can anticipate what they’re coming back in to.

Step four: The transition from participants coming back from solo time into the next activity can be challenging as different participants will have had different experiences with it. Some participants will have really appreciated the white space and some will be feeling incredibly uncomfortable at having been silent and introspective for so long. If participants are coming back into the room to move into the next activity, ask them to enter quietly and let conversation build up gradually as more and more people enter the room. Having music on at this time can help with a transfer of atmosphere. Alternately, have this activity run into a break or lunch, and make the invitation that the break/lunch be a silent one. Participants will begin to talk to one another eventually and the silence will be broken naturally, but will allow those more introverted participants the time to transition back into a group space.

Step five: The debrief for this activity can be short. After participants come back into the room, or after the silent break/lunch, gather in circle and do a quick popcorn share. To get things started, pose the questions:

  • How was the process of solo time?

  • Did the process of solo time open up space for anything? How does it differ from the way we usually work with challenges?