Challenged by planning a learning event? Make it easy and visual with ‘Design for Wiser Action’

July 29, 2015 | Blog-Admin1 | Let's Talk Visual, Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences |


Rating: 4.6 out of 5

SKU-WSJ-VONNAPlanning and designing a workshop involves many aspects; and often many people too. A visual planning canvas might be the right approach to make the first crucial move. Bring the organizing team, the core group or the mandate giver to the table and do the planning jointly.

By Nadia von Holzen, Mirjam Walser and Kuno Schläfli, SDC

The canvas

Design for Wiser Action is a canvas developed by the Art of Hosting community. We tested it at several occasions. Our conclusion: it is helpful to clarify key aspects in an early stage.


Photo: Empty template Design for Wiser Action by SDC Learning & Networking

The canvas outlines several prescriptions which form the building blocks for the planning activities. On the image above you find the template. The ideas and answers that emerge through intense conversation are written down on post-it notes and assigned to one of the blocks.

It is important to allow free reflection. There is no given procedure which question needs to be discussed first. On the contrary, it is the possibility to switch between the different blocks that allow considering all important aspects. Design for Wiser Action does not limit the discussion to the content of an event or project but opens up a comprehensive planning. It is an interactive tool that fosters analysis, understanding, creativity. The canvas is very easy to use (see below for possible steps and questions).

An experience

The SDC Network Migration asked the Team Learning & Networking to give support in the planning of a face-to-face meeting. Nadia took the role of a facilitator while Yvonne Diallo, Focalpoint Network Migration, and the academic intern of the Global Programme Migration, Simone Renner, delivered the thematic inputs.

During the two hours workshop the blank squares filled step-by-step with ideas and reflections.

The video below gives a lively insight into the planning workshop and the three participants describe in short statements their impression of Design for Wiser Action.

[for English subtitles enable the button at the bottom of the youtube video]

Possible steps and questions

Start with clarifying the call and the purpose of the workshop.
Why is this workshop needed? By whom? What bring people to the table in terms of questions and experiences? What do we want to achieve?

Point to the “harvest”, the results (tangible and intangible) you want to achieve.
What is it you want to make happen in people’s minds and hearts?
What do you need as organizer of the workshop in terms of results?

Then move on step by step through the process:
What are the burning questions to tackle?
What about social reporting and harvesting?
Are there any difficult or even sensible issues you need to take care of?
What are the next steps in the preparation process?

More information: Design for Wiser Action by The Harvest Hub

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Comments to“Challenged by planning a learning event? Make it easy and visual with ‘Design for Wiser Action’”

  1. Thank you for bringing out the richness of these templates. They are not only useful and helpful for collaboration, they are fun.

    I was thinking about whether this tool could be used directly in a workshop setting or in a course and I think it can. Although objectives in workshops and courses are set in advance, I could see this template being used to include participants in taking responsibility for their learning, and sharing their needs.

    How would I use it? I would set the purpose and ensure that this was agreed with participants. (Parts of the template may already be filled in.) I would then ask them to reflect on their needs and their expectations – learning outcomes. As stakeholders I might even ask them to take part in the training by sharing their expertise (This request might be sent to some participants ahead of time). I would then keep this poster up for the duration of the training.

    I look forward hearing back from you.

  2. Nadia von Holzen says:

    Dear Veronique,
    thank you very much for your thoughts. And yes, you can use this canvas very well in a workshop setting. The good thing about a visual canvas is that you can adapt it very easily to your situation. Choose the “boxes” you need and include new ones so that the canvas serves your purpose. I am curious to hear about your experiences!
    Best, Nadia

  3. babette pfander says:

    dear all
    another phantastic drip of inspiration for my work! It help to make also social and in-tangible aspects of a convening totaly visible. As a facilitator, I have often touched upon such aspects in the preparation – but putting them down as part and parcel of the event, with equal bearing will be even more powerful.

    great job also with the lively films…
    … and looking forward to more :-)


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