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Wall of Wonder

Timelining -- the Historical Scan

Wall of Wonder or Timelining

A Wall of Wonder—often called a Historical Scan or a Histomap—is a timeline of an individual or group’s past. It includes events and people involved over the course of the past and for a group includes what was going on over the same time period in the industry or region that the group relates to as well as what was going on in the world. The facilitated session then looks across the timeline for where shifts occurred (from what and to what) and probes into what drove the shifts. It ends with telling the story of the history and a reflection on what the history can tell the group that is of value for its future. Below is a (sanitized) example documentation and a photo of the wall in progress. While such a “stop-action snapshot” can be taken at any time, it is especially useful to do with a group about to embark on strategic planning. It puts all participants on the same page, ready to plan. Timelining can also be used to make sense of a day, a week, a year, decades, a life, or just a single event.


Individual application:

Use small post-it notes to personally reflect on: 

  • Your year/life when you celebrate your birthday or mark a special occasion
  • An anniversary of any kind
  • A segment of your life (such as your career)



Distancing is the skill of standing back from your own situation to reflect on how your life relates to all of life, or how a team or group relates to the larger organization, nation, world. The Wall of Wonder methodology can be used for distancing, as can a well-crafted Focused Conversation.

Corporate Distancing (Source unknown)



A template for reflecting on life experiences.



To look at World, Nation, and Workplace events use the Wall of Wonder approach (see template).

One of ten facilitation approaches, the Wall of Wonder is taught as part of the ToP Approaches to Environmental Scanning course. 

Wall of Wonder - Sample Document

Wall of Wonder - Group Working at the Wall

Methodologies and Insights of Timelining 

Notes from Collegiums B, C, and D on July 26, 1970, in relation to The Local Church Experiment.

A timeline communicates a symbolic message.      ~ Collegium B, Ecumenical Institute, Summer 1970