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Designing a ‘Sparkly’ Clean Space activity


Doris Leibold, Jacqueline Surin and I have been thinking about the forthcoming Online Clean Space workshop and, in particular, about designing Clean Space processes. There is a whole section about this in the book I co-authored with James Lawley (Insights in Space: How to use Clean Space to generate ideas and spark creativity, also available in German). In the workshop we also spend time considering how to take some or all of the elements of Clean Space in order to design new processes for specific contexts, or with specific constraints in mind.

Features of Clean Space

Obviously one constraint of an online workshop is that it’s online. At the start of the pandemic, we took time to consider how a process that involves people finding different physical spaces in a room, garden, park or street, could be turned into an online process where people are finding spaces within their own home or office, often out of shot of the camera – and we have been successfully using and teaching that ever since then. And we know that the process works – it definitely sparks creativity. What we have been wondering recently is: How can we add even more ‘spark’ to the section of the workshop that’s about designing new processes – how could we make this part of the workshop ‘sparkly’?

We started out considering what we each mean by ‘sparkly’, including recalling previous online events which have had a sparkly quality to them. Jacqueline remembers a Metaphorum event where she was dancing to the beat of some drums whilst moving towards and away from the screen with a koosh ball. Doris spoke about a fun event I once ran (not in a clean context) with a game that involved going around the house looking for specific objects and another where people were moving from breakout room to breakout room. We realised these events included:

  • Lots of moving around (e.g dancing, moving around the house, moving between breakout rooms)
  • A high level of engagement where everyone was involved in the same shared activity at the same time even though people were all over the world
  • Utilisation of easily available objects, which provided an element of surprise or synchronicity

So we added these elements to our list of constraints for the activity we wanted to design.

"The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self."

Igor Stravinsky

Next, we just started thinking out loud, adding to each other’s ideas, and sometimes starting again if this wasn’t leading anywhere. We talked about people’s geographical spaces, favourite spaces, creative spaces, problem-solving, using objects and lots more until we came up with what seemed like a ‘sparkly’ Clean Space-inspired activity. We then tested the process on ourselves and refined it, and Jacqueline and Doris are now looking forward to running it during the next online Clean Space workshop. (They will test it again before then and I will also adapt it to run in my in-person workshop in September.) I’m not going to divulge the exercise in full – we hope you’ll come to the workshop and take part – but I can tell you that it:

  • Fits the exact context of the workshop, when participants will already be familiar with the basic Clean Space process as well as the conditional questions and directions – and before they start designing their own processes.
  • Has a central theme of creativity.
  • Utilises all the elements shown in the diagram above.
  • Involves lots of movement, engagement and collecting of objects.
  • Can easily be run online.
  • Results in a photograph of an arrangement of five objects, like the ones below.
Doris and Jacqueline's photos of their objects

If you’d like to learn how to spark creativity using space, and how you can also design processes that are sparkly for your participants, come join us on a Clean Space workshop. Come ready to move and be engaged in space!

About Marian Way

Marian Way's avatar

A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be… #DramaFree.

Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She’s trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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