SunriseFearless Journey is a game where the goal is for the players to discover a new transformational reality.  The power of Fearless Journey is that it allows us to engage in deep thinking on how to completely alters our present condition and help us ignore the little problems that distract us.

The objective of Fearless Journey is to work with the other players to eliminate (or reduce the impact) as many of the obstacles between “Now” and their future reality using the patterns printed on the playing cards.  Players will take turns sharing how they think one (or more) of the patterns in their hand might be useful to resolve the impediments on their journey.  Play continues until the players are excited to start applying their ideas back at work or time runs out.  It is not important that all the obstacles have been discussed (or even addressed) since one goal of Fearless Journey is to help people see that they can move to action even if some obstacles remain.

Keep in mind that the game mechanics presented below are a departure from the mechanics from the original game.  For the original game mechanics, refer to the Fearless Journey site.  So what are the mechanics of the game play (as defined by Carlton)?

  1. Define a timebox of how long players want to discuss their impediments.  IME, thirty minutes feels about right, but players may take as long as they want.
  2. Next, deal out all the cards to players [ed. this is a key adaption from me].  It is not important that everyone has the same number of cards.  Give everyone about a minute to scan their cards and pull out a few that look interesting.
  3. Once one person is ready, they pull a card from their hand, read the text, lay it on top of one of the impediments and explain in a specific way why they think the pattern they selected might help.  The goal is to have a short dialogue about the pattern and explore some of the specifics around some ideas that might possibly work to resolve the obstacle.
  4. When the conversation comes to a lull, another player may offer an additional pattern from their hand if they feel they can make the original play better by saying, “I think this might help”.  The new player will then explain why they feel their pattern might work.  Once there is a pause, the original player says “Thank you” to person making a new contribution.
  5. After the “Thank you” has been given and received, all the players will have short dialogue about how the new pattern might help and they will expand upon the original concept in order come up with some new ideas that might possibly work to resolve the obstacle.
  6. When the conversation among all the players is complete, players will vote using the Decider\Resolution protocol to evaluate how well the pattern(s) works to resolve the impediment.  Thumbs up means, “I agree that the proposed solution might work”.  Thumbs sideways means, “Good enough for now”.  Finally, thumbs down means, “I do not think this solution will work”.  Use the Resolution protocol to investigate if the people voting “no” can make the proposal better.  If not, move on to another impediment on the journey.

Essentially, that is how the game is played – successive rounds of dialogue followed by successive rounds of thumb voting using the Decider\Resolution protocols until the time has expired and\or the players are ready to get to work.  The power of the game is that it gives the players a whole range of new ideas to try, even for problems that are outside of their control.  Additionally, the players realize that the best solutions come about by working with other people. Both of these elements begin to restore hope and remove some of the loneliness associated with being change agents.

Here are some additional tips I have picked up while facilitating this game.

  • Play the game as long as it is useful to remain in dialogue.  While the objective is find ideas that might work to resolve all the impediments to the new reality, it just may not be possible for the players to see how they can do it.  Even if the players only get rid of just one obstacle, at least they have made progress on their goal.
  • It is uncommon that a single pattern will resolve an obstacle.  Encourage the players to mix-and-match patterns from their hands that create the best solutions.  While there is no specific limit to the numbers of patterns that can be applied to a problem, clearly playing thirty cards is just not realistic.  Generally, players will play from three to six cards for each impediment on their journey.
  • Each deck of cards has four cards with the words “Re-use” printed on them.  These cards are essentially wild cards that allow a player to recycle an existing change pattern to resolve another impediment on the path.  When reusing a pattern, be sure to write down on a post-it note, which pattern you are reusing.  If you run out of “Re-use” cards, just make them up with post-it notes or index cards.
  • It is OK if the players add more impediments on their path during the game.  During their dialogue, players may identify new impediments to their goal.  Simply write them down on a post-it note, place them on the playing surface and treat as you would any other obstacle.

There is more out there about Fearless Journey and I encourage you to take a look at what others have written.  Ben Linders wrote an article on InfoQ and there is a short article about the game on Tasty Cupcakes.

Update – thanks to Deborah Hartman for giving me feedback, pointing out the omissions I had made and making this description of Fearless Journey more perfect!