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The Spark Engine

Used by teams and in business settings of all kinds, this book describes creative exercises that foster team-building and warm up the right side of your brain – the creative side. Grab a pencil, a marker, or a pen, and get started. Share these exercises with your team, and enjoy the creative energy. We call this the “Spark”.

This book brings together many ideas from all the icebreaker/creative drawing experiments I have conducted over the years, in a simple format. I ask that everyone draws something related to a story about them or some aspect of their lives so that through the drawing the artist is sharing a personal element with the team. Sometimes, there is a true Picasso in the group, but most people are not talented artists. The value of the exercise lies in the process, not the quality of the product.

The act of drawing engages the right side of the brain, and it mixes visual, verbal, and kinesthetic experiences, so it works for various types of learning styles. The drawing process can be unnerving, and will undoubtedly push many beyond their comfort zone. This process in itself creates a bond amongst the participants, as they all confront a common challenge. Once the drawing is complete, a great deal of psychological pressure has passed. Presenting the drawing is then relatively easy because the drawing is already complete and cannot be changed. It is therefore easier to listen fully to others. The final step is to post all the drawings on the wall so that they remain visible throughout the session and people can remember what another team member drew and why.

About the Author(s)
Valerio Zanini

Valerio is an expert at bridging technology and business, with more than 20 years of professional experience spanning software development, system integration, agile transformation, design thinking, and product innovation. He is the founder and CEO of the product innovation firm 5D Vision, with offices in Washington, DC, and Rome, Italy. He provides consulting and training to organizations of any size, helping them become more innovative with product mastery, agile methodologies, and design thinking. Formerly a Director of Product Development at Capital One where he led digital transformation initiatives for retail banks and transformed how customers interact with bankers. Before Capital One, Valerio was the co-founder and CEO of Goozex (sold in 2012), a Systems Engineer at Cisco, and the co-founder of one of the first web development companies in Italy. He is a Certified Scrum Trainer and SAFe Program Consultant. He’s also certified in IDEO Design Thinking. He holds an MBA from the University of Maryland, and an MS/BS degree in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the University of Rome, Italy. He is the author of Deliver Great Products That Customers Love, published in 2018.

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