IAF Methods

Intentional Conversation

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This exercise is good for change management processes
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Participants share stories about change using pictures as metaphors of experience in the past, present and future. They then create a collective picture of the individual ones.


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  • Oversize poster boards 3 per team
  • Photos or magazine clippings



Setting: Oversize poster boards 3 per team
Pictures from National Geographic or other sources that have a wide variety of situations in change or may be used as metaphors of change.

Level of Difficulty to Facilitate (to be deleted during review): Facilitation skills required


Intentional Conversation
I started the experience with a short teaching on the difference between change and transition based on William Bridges work. This was followed with an open discussion about the situation using a simplified dialogue technique I call "intentional conversation."

If you have more money than time David Horth and Charles Paulus from the Center for Creative Leadership have created a wonderful set of careful selected color images to use for exercises like this. The set is called "Visual Explorer, Picturing Approaches to Complex Challenges."

The exercises:

1. I asked them to use a pile of photos cut out of National Geographic magazines and other magazines containing similar strong metaphoric images. Find a picture that represents your story about the way you experienced your work in the past.

2. Find another picture that represents the way work is now.

3. Find a third picture that represents your dream of the way this work will be in the future.

4. Sitting in a circle each staff person held up their picture of the past and told their story about how they saw things then.

5. We discussed the commonalities and differences. There was a common collective story.

6. We discussed loss and grieving and how different people experience it differently and how different folks need different kinds of support from each other.

7. Participants share their stories about the present.

8. Reflection and debrief.

9. Participants share their stories about the future.  

10. Direct the participants to organize themselves into three teams and glue color copies of their individually selected images into collective collages onto oversized poster boards - one for past, one for present and one for future.

11. Reflection and debrief about what they represented about the team as individuals and as a collective.

12. The next morning we developed concrete action steps but that's another story.

13. After the event they mounted the three poster boards in their staff lounge area to remind themselves of who they are and where they are going.

Note: Their supervisor informed me that there was notable positive change in the morale and productivity of the group in the months following the retreat.


Usual or Expected Outcomes: Stories of people's experiences of change


Source: Newell Eaton

History of Development: Shared on the GRP-FACL Listserve at http://www.albany.edu/cpr/gf

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