Peaks and Valleys Timeline provides a simple visual language for sharing individual views on the ups and downs for a given timeline. It is an effective way for a large group to visualize and uncover events and their interconnections.

Running the activity:

  1. Draw a horizontal arrow representing the timeline on the bottom of the canvas. Define the start and the end of the timeline.
  2. Decide upon the canvas vertical gradient. For instance, the happiness gradient, where the very top is the happiest and the very bottom is the saddest.
  3. Invite a participant to draw their Peaks and Valleys timeline:
    “Starting on the beginning of the timeline, and keeping the marker on the canvas the whole time. Please share your Peaks and Valleys timeline. You should do so by drawing the line and speaking at the same time.”
  4. Invite more participants to draw their timeline (one at a time). Consider using a different marker color or line pattern.

At the end of this activity the whole group will have a view of several Peaks and Valleys Timelines. It is a good activity for getting participants to open up for further conversation. It is also very useful for correlating events with the chosen gradient (team feelings on the example below) and for recognizing contradiction —such as ups and downs for the same event.

The Peaks and Valleys Timeline activity is also known as Cliffs and Valleys or Emotional Seismograph.


Remote-team advice: This activity works well for remote teams. Use a remote board with free drawing of your choice.