How many people love to watch stuff in process? Many of us do—rehearsals of the ballet or the symphony, a baseball team at batting practice. And what about reading the draft of a manuscript? There’s something exciting about reading or seeing a work–or a sport or an event–as it’s being worked on; watching it being honed. Realizing that the repetition and the refinement is what makes it what it is.
This was the idea behind our “Square Four” tours. The name comes from the idea that Square One is the beginning, and somewhere around Square 10 is the end. That would put Square Four…not quite in the middle. Almost, but not quite halfway done.
We always run test version of our tours and scavenger hunts (many, many, many versions) and at some point, even though we never, ever feel like we’re ready, we start inviting people to come along. We ask for help with everything from directions (“Oh—you ended up in the bathroom? That can’t be right”) to the timing (“It took you an hour and a half in just one gallery? Hmm.”) And even though it’s often hard to take feedback (OK, criticism) it’s ultimately so much better to work out problems and issues ahead of time.
And people who come long are often really interested to see what goes into putting a tour together–the hours of walking and re-walking a route, the research, the walking, the re-walking…We’ve gotten fabulous suggestions from Square Four participants, taken tons of their suggestions, and are endlessly grateful for a fresh approach. Having actual real live people along is completely different than doing it on your own, or with the same core group of people. They ask great questions, know they’re there to give feedback and are not at all shy about giving it, and are intrigued by the idea of being part of the process.
We highly recommend “Square Four”-ing something yourself, whether it’s a work in progress, or the beginnings of an idea. That’s why it’s called “in progress”–and bringing others along for the ride will help you take away the “in” and just have “progress.”