Designing Outrageously Successful Projects

Description: The Dragon Dreaming processA tool designed to help a project through Four Stages; dreaming, planning, doing and evaluation/celebration.

Purpose(s): Bring insight into where projects get stuck and offer antidotes to it.

Time: Allocate 30-60 mins, or more

Resources: Flip chart paper and pens

Instructions: There are four main steps, with a fifth being the ongoing follow up.


Step One - Dreaming


The group comes together and asks this question to each person in turn:


"What would this project need to achieve
to make your participation 100% worthwhile?"


A talking 'stick' is helpful so that people are listened to, and everyone has their full set of objectives listed. When you are satisfied you pass – and it may take 3 or 4 rounds until everyone passes.  There is no evaluation, competition or criticism at this stage – just go on including all the objectives.  When you have finished you have the objectives for the project, and the aim that the group signs up to is to complete 100% of them for everyone.


If new people join later, keep the dreaming list and add their objectives to it. The ideal suggested circle size is 6-8 people – with more than that break into groups and put the objectives together at the end.


Step Two - The framework of the board game


On a large enough piece of paper (flip chart is good) draw a circle at the top and label it "Start" and one at the bottom with the label "Finish". Now get the group to think of any task that will be needed to complete the project's objectives. This step can focus on the entire project or on part of a bigger project (ie each phase can have its own board game).


Central to this model is that any project has four key stages (dreaming, planning, doing and evaluation/celebration), and the task in this stage is to identify and position the tasks that come up, into each of the four stages.


For those less experienced you might start by making a list of all the tasks and labeling them 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 for the 4 stages - you can give a task more than one label. When you have your list of tasks you can get a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of the group – you may find you have mainly planners, dreamers, doers or celebrators!


Then add circles with labels for every task to your start / finish board game piece of paper, dividing the board into 4 stages.








Step Three - Connecting the dots


Now add lines to show any connections you can see between the tasks.


Every task should have at least one input & output – if you can’t find one there are probably tasks missing, and you will need to add them in.  When everything is connected up you have the plan for your project.



Step Four - Using your board game


Ask each person in the group to identify;


  • which task/s they feel passionately about – add initials in one colour
  • which tasks make them feel scared witless, or really would fear taking on – add initials in 2nd colour
  • which tasks they feel competent to do – add initials in 3rd colour

These are the people who should do the tasks.  People taking on fearful tasks will need a mentor / handholder, someone who knows what they’re doing.  "Our power is where our fear is."  Tasks with lots of inputs and outputs are key tasks and you need to make sure they are resourced properly.


Step Five - Your board game as an ongoing tool


When you have completed this, go through the plan and see where you are up to now (you have probably already started some of it):


  • Cross hatch the circle of any task you have started – and celebrate this!
  • Fully colour in the circle of any task you have completed – fully celebrate these!


Doing and Celebrating

This board game is the agenda for every meeting, and the record of what’s happening – no more minute taking.  Keep hatching and colouring in, and keep celebrating!

Source: John Croft from the Gaia Foundation of Western Australia