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Wall of Time - Quickly list and organize the tasks of a project

The Wall of Time is a tool used to quickly organize a list of all the possible tasks and subtasks required to implement a (previously defined) solution.

One of the interesting aspects of this tool is that only the future implementer of a task can decide to move it to the final planning.

This activity usually takes place during:

  • An early Planning phase of any kind of Project
  • The Align Resource phase of a Productive Thinking project
  • The Formulate the Plan phase of a Creative Problem Solving project
  • As an Closing activity of an Interactive Event or meeting

Wall of Plan is one of the Productive Thinking tools presented in Tim Hurson's book Think Better.

1. Brainstorm tasks

What are all the possible tasks that we might need to do to successfully implement our solution?

  • Write down one card for each possible task
  • Describe each task with a sentence that starts with an action verb

2. Assign Resources & Schedule key actions

In this step, we will create an Action Plan.

Working as a group, drag and drop some of the cards containing a task to the Wall of Time into the appropriate term:

  • This month
  • Next month
  • Month +2
  • Month +3
  • Month +4

Important! Only the person responsible for a given task should transfer the card, and prior to doing so should write his or her name inside the card in the Who is Responsible? section.

Note to the facilitator
If needed, you should change the time scale from months to days or weeks or quarters or years. Just keep it simple and try not have more than 5 time slots.

3. Discuss and reflect on the outcome

Look at the final action plan and discuss all together:

  • Does the action plan make sense?
  • Are the people responsible for a task confident with their respective tasks?

Some critical actions are missing?

It is not unusual for some cards to remain untransferred to the Wall of Time. They may be redundant, unclear, or unnecessary to the project.

But it may also be that they are critically important to the project, but no one has taken responsibility for them. If no one claims responsibility for a task, it is unlikely the task will be completed. You must either:

  1. Persuade a member of the group to take responsibility for the task,
  2. Find someone outside your group willing and competent to take responsibility, or
  3. Take it on yourself. At this stage, you do not need to find someone who will actually perform the task, but someone must be accountable for it.

What would be the next steps?

  • If needed, you can now build a detailed Gantt Chart of the project using a specialized software.

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