Photo by Civic Center

Have you ever been asked a question that’s so simple, but so deep it stumps you for a second? Here’s one: “Fill in the blank: ‘before I die I want to ______;” (Granted, it’s not technically a question….)

Now what if you could survey gobs of strangers with the same inquiry? Do you wonder what they’d say? What about your co-workers or your relatives – do you think you’d be surprised?

Artist Candy Chang asked a whole New Orleans neighbourhood the question by creating a giant fill-in-the-blank chalk board on the side of an abandoned building. [], and since then, many others have put boards like it in their cities.  “It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you”, Candy says on her website.

What comes up for you when you’re challenged to fill-in-the-blank? Does the answer align with what you do in your day-to-day?

There’s a spin-off of this project called Project Better. Using the same concept, their public boards say “[this city/neighbourhood] would be better if_____”.  Can you imagine what might show up in anonymous comments if a corporate leader put a giant “this organization would be better if _________” board? What about a big “this company’s leadership would be better if _______” board? Talk about being vulnerable.

The difference between this and a suggestion box is that it’s not just about mining for answers by whomever posts the board; the effect of allowing the larger population insight on others’ perspectives will surely stimulate innovative ideas and productive discussion.

I’m dying for someone to try this large-scale experiment in their organization and report back to me at