VisualsSpeak to Manage Change, Part Four

Note: This is the fourth of a five-part series looking at how VisualsSpeak tools were used in a real-world context. View Previous Installment.

We get asked from time to time to give examples about how the VisualsSpeak toolset is used amongst the members of the VisualsSpeak community. So over the course of a handful of blog posts, we’re sharing one such example, with the Housing Authority of Portland.

Time for action

After the keynote, executive director’s message and a break, each table received a VisualsSpeak ImageSet. The ImageSet is a collection of 200 tested photographs used for facilitating significant conversations to build teams and solve strategic challenges. Individuals were asked to quickly select photographs and assemble them on a piece of construction paper in response to the question, “how can I contribute to the dreams of the agency?”

People in turn described their images to the table. The energy in the room was very high, and everyone was engaged. The executive director kept saying, “I can’t believe they are talking. My staff never talks like this.”

After each person told their individual story, the table was challenged to come up with a group image. Each person had to contribute something. They could choose to use the images from the individual selections or use new ones. One person at each table was assigned to take notes for future reference.

When all the groups were finished, each table selected someone to give an overview of the group image to everyone in the room. The stories were upbeat. There were lots of creative ideas about how everyone could align to do what was best for the clients, and yet the stories were consistent across the groups. Each had awareness that there would be lots of hard work, but focused on a willingness to do whatever it would take. The theme was largely on how to serve more clients more effectively.

HAP Group using VisualsSpeak

The next morning

The other half of the staff arrived the next morning to go through the same process. Once again, the group was engaged and excited. The stories from the groups were not only consistent across the room, but they were very similar to the groups from the day before.

The following months

The executive team was very pleased at how smoothly the two meetings went. What could have been very disruptive to team morale was instead a galvanizing force for rising to the challenges that lay ahead. Each member of the executive and management team had the opportunity to hear from twenty-two staff members over the two days. They participated alongside them, and shared their stories with them.

The staff meeting experience stuck in the minds of the participants. People still talked about it many months later. The photographs from the day’s events were uploaded to the HAP intranet to further reinforce the good memories.

Patsy, who was responsible for the idea to use VisualsSpeak, had this to say.

Thanks to the VisualsSpeak Image Set, I was the hero of the day! It was imperative that this large group exercise went well. The message from our Executive Director was an important one and it all hinged on the success of this exercise. I wasn’t nervous because I knew this was the perfect tool, and we convinced members of the Executive Team to give this non-traditional tool a try—needless to say, they were not disappointed. The exercise created amazing energy throughout the room and everyone participated. Staff was able to express their contribution to the agency in a creative way and see how their work tied into “big picture” – and I got quite a few “pats on the back.”

In our final segment, we’ll debrief the lessons learned and talk about why this was such a successful intervention. Stay with us!

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