JUST ADD PICTURES

“You cannot depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.” – Mark Twain

We love to work with pictures in all sorts of ways!  Because truth be told, they can sometimes be worth even more than 1,000 words. They enhance our creativity to improve communication, generate new ways of thinking, jump-start stalled projects, and take us to places we didn’t know we could go to amp up our imagination.

We built pictures into our facilitation practice and the teams we work with asked for them, so we created the Let the Picture Pick You Deck, inspiring images that can transport you to new places of understanding and knowledge.

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Here’s some Team Activities to get your started with pictures:

“Getting to Know You’ Warm Up – Invite each team member to choose a picture that represents something about themselves. Ask them to find someone else they don’t know very well. Then instruct everyone to share with their picture and how it represents them to their partner (share only what they want to). Invite everyone to switch partners and share again. Repeat one more time, then have everyone share one thing about themselves to the whole group.

Pulse Check – Invite each team member to choose a picture that captures how they are feeling and/or what they are thinking.  Ask everyone to share in pairs, clusters or with the full group.

Envisioning Success – Invite each team member to choose a picture that represents their personal BEST and BRIGHTEST expectations for the meeting or project. Give everyone a few moments to think of a title for their picture.  One by one, ask each person to share their picture, title and what Success Looks Like for them.  After everyone has shared, as a team, identify the common elements of success and capture on a chart pad or graphic template such as Circle Around or Success Looks Like.

Just add pictures and enjoy the boost in team CREATIVITY!

Fast, Powerful, Incredible

I just had an overwhelmingly powerful team experience in my small town community.

Over 5 weeks,  8 core team members met with 25 people a total of 6 hours face to face;  connected with 50 people by email; and inspired 100 volunteers to support a dinner fundraiser that raised $28,000 (the goal was $10,000).  Why was this so FAST and POWERFUL?  We

  • HAD VISION AND AN OUTCOME – support a local family in need financially, emotionally and physically.
  • SHARED OUR UNIQUE GIFTS – we had facilitative leaders that created structure, inspired others to give, followed their own passion and hundreds of others followed – and Super Cool T-Shirts really helped people get involved.
  • SPENT TIME TOGETHER, reflectively and actively – Our first informal get together to discuss how to support our friend instantly became once a week work sessions, one hour at a time.  We split our time together between REFLECTION and ACTION.
  • DIDN’T SKIP THE TEAM & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT WORK (REFLECTION).  This is important.  Some wanted to skip it and they pushed hard, but we gently asked them to participate. This is how you speed up your process!  Don’t let your busyness, your GO FAST energy lead you down a path that skips this part.  This is when and how people get to know each other, begin to trust each other, begin to know they are connected even if they didn’t feel a connection before. We made it easy, something different each week —  draw a picture from the Let the Picture Pick You Deck to represent a successful fundraiser,  pick an Angel from the Angel Deck to hold during the week as you approached the work,  pick a quote and share your own awareness of yourself right now.  Not too hard and very powerful.
  • COMMUNICATED ORGANICALLY — There were amazing communicators and they came forward, fully.  They are the people that share and build ideas in the moment with others that then share and build ideas with more people, who then think, link and build ideas into action.  There was no ego or turf owning, just pure desire to accomplish the vision and outcome.  Communicating involved a email, texting, conversations during walks, shared documents online – if you haven’t used dropbox or google drive you might want to try them.

REAL RESULTS:  Dinners were served to the family every weekday night, the first fundraiser brought in $28,000.  8 core team members met together with another 15 people for only 6 hours over 5 weeks, communicated out and gathered 100 volunteers (including kids!).  We served 800+ dinners, auctioned 100 baskets and 12 big ticket items, and inspired real community.  We also spent time together in gratitude by writing 200 thank yous!

Our friend and her family are feeling our love!  We all enjoyed the power of an aligned team!  I got to continue building my facilitative leadership mastery and I made some new friends along the way. As I said, overwhelmingly  powerful team experience.

 

Are you Accessing the Power of NOW?

Recently I’ve really been tuning in to conversations I’m part of and conversations around me.  And, I became acutely aware that I’ve not been accessing the Power of Now … a lot of us aren’t. So, here’s what I asked myself:

What is our fascination with reliving our past stories, mostly those that are not our favorites?  And, why do we let the emotions of fear and anxiety of the past creep in and cloud our current experience?  How does our this focus on our past (particularly the negative past) impact and influence our communities, our organizations, our teams, even our families?

My awareness led me to reconnect with the teachings and writings of Eckhart Tolle. I started with the books I had.  A little search online gifted me with even more – a whole website of Tolle teachings with present moment reminders, free stuff and Tolle TV – a really cool place to go to create a renewed awareness that “NOW: is the space in which life happens.”

So, I started looking at all aspects of my life including my work as a graphic facilitator. And you know what?  I realized what I love most about graphic facilitation and graphic templates*. I realized how those BIG beautiful pieces of paper with an image of a mountain or a house or a circle, magically bring us to NOW in our conversations – what we know NOW, what we vision NOW, what each participant in the conversation is aware of NOW.  And the best part is through these visual tools, we create a record of the NOW so when we are in the next NOW we can simply be fully present there … NOW.  Woooo Whooo!

Want to access the power of NOW in your teams and groups? Try a graphic template or two (you can get them at the Grove or IdeaConnect stores) or hire a graphic recorder or a graphic facilitator or get out some big paper and draw a guide for conversation yourself.

Let us know what works and what you’re aware of NOW?   We promise, we’ll respond from our NOW.

* You know! Cool Tools – big paper on the walls with a graphic or metaphor to engage guided conversation!

Spring Cleaning for Your Team

Add some extra Team Performance with some “Spring Cleaning.” Try it, you’ll like it!

I was looking at Martha Stewart’s Spring Cleaning Checklist and it inspired me to do a little spring cleanup with my teams.  Here are 5 ideas that have the power to create a stronger, more successful team for you.

1. Clean the Windows Reconnect to & Re-Clarify your Team Vision, Goals and/or Desired Outcomes.   Schedule  time together to focus on your team vision or outcome.  Has it evolved?  Is everyone working toward that same outcome?  What would make each team member feel successful at the end of the team’s work together or even at a intermediate step? Special tip!  Have each member imagine their success as part of this team and write down 1-3 things personally and professionally to share with the team.  This engages the whole person and connects them personally to the work.  By sharing with others they see common ideas and can support each other.

2. Clean Out the Clutter – Identify Priorities and Key Steps toward each Goal.  What are the team’s priorities, member priorities?  Are there key steps toward the Goal?  One of my team’s recently started working with PICK FOUR by Seth Godin using Zig Ziglar’s wisdom.  Kinda fun, hard work … definitely a way to get through the clutter!

3. Dust & Vacuum Bring clarity to your landscape.  It’s always good to keep up with dusting and vacuuming, ie checking your assumptions and hypotheses, adding new questions and checking  off old ones,  understanding your team challenges and even team supports.  Another way to bring clarity is through the Drexler-Sibbet Team Performance Model.  Where is your team on the model, what is working well, anything unresolved?

4. Ensure Fire Safety – Engage external support and Review alternate scenarios.  I love this idea!  Are you actively working with your external stakeholders?  Is everyone in the team keeping their external supporters engaged in the work the team is accomplishing?  And,  are team members communicating a unified story outside the team?  Does the external environment require you to have alternate plans?

5. Organize, Organize, Organize – Make your work as a Team EASIER.  What would make the work easier?  Start with a conversation about how each team member gets their work done best will spark some ideas.  I did a little ‘spring cleaning’ with my IdeaConnect printing group and through our conversation we had some great ideas to inspire EASE with some added some efficiency, and a little magic! (And, We love magic!!)

So what’s your favorite approach to Spring Cleaning?  And, how might you apply to the teams you lead or participate in? Please share!  We’d all benefit from your tried and true approaches and ideas!

PS – If you’re wondering how to bring a visual element to team spring cleaning, try the Team StartUp kit (or should I say Team Re-StartUp Kit)

Are You a Tourist or a Traveler?

“The difference between landscape and landscape is small, but there is a great difference between the beholders.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

There’s this tourist and traveler comparison I love when I think about consumer research approaches. Here goes:

As a tourist I go to some far off exotic land and I have an agenda of activities, I observe the culture at a safe distance, go to the must-see places, maybe a museum or two, eat at restaurants recommended by the hotel concierge or chain restaurants familiar from home, look for newspapers and TV from home, take lots of beautiful pictures of beautiful things to post on FaceBook, and I probably only spend a day or two or maybe three in each city – you get the idea. I’ve had a great experience, but how much new did I learn about myself, about the culture, about the people who live there? I feel like I just touched the surface. This is parallel to my experience in a traditionally formatted (really good) consumer research process.

As a traveler, I immerse into the culture. Move into the rhythm of the place, slow down, spend some time, learn some of the language, wander maybe even get lost in the city, meet regular people doing regular everyday things, have totally unplanned unexpected experiences And, if I’m lucky I may even be invited for a meal at someone’s home. I connect. I know when I leave I have been touched by my experience deeply. I’ve learned so much about myself, about the culture, about the individuals I’ve met. I have stories to share that make me laugh and cry and desire more and more and more of that! This is what we need – this is what the human heart longs for. This is GREAT Consumer Research.

At IdeaConnect (and our alter ego Ah Ha!), in our practice of consumer research (aka LearningConnect), we love to be travelers and guide our clients into the learning experience of a lifetime. Our workshops are face to face (no backroom) and whenever feasible we send our client team out to visit people in their homes, to shop with them, to get to know them, to travel into their world.

And yes, sometimes if they’re lucky, they’re even invited for a memorable meal at someone’s home. Each team member is touched in a different way. They come back with pictures and treasures and stories that make us cry and laugh and want more and more and more of that!

Venturing into the Land of OnLine Workshops

Wow! We’ve been training LearningConnect, our super revolutionary Qualitative Research and Team Learning process, live and in person for over 10 years. Hundreds of people around the world have attended our trainings and we’re getting ready to take the next step – On Line! While this won’t replace our highly regarded 3 step LearningConnect certification, we think this will be a great place to add to your knowledge, enable your facilitation arts and enhance your emerging practice.

This is your chance to learn from us from the comfort of your home or office as we share the inside scoop, the secret ingredients, the magic principles and practices that are the future of Collaborative, Creative Work.

Here are a few topics we’re considering.  It’s not an exhaustive list  because we’re hoping you’ll help us build it!

The 7 Stages of LearningConnect
New to LearningConnect? Has it been awhile since you’ve attended LearningConnect Training? Wishing someone on your team knew what you were talking about? Join this session (and invite others along) for an overview of the full LearningConnect process with some fundamental tips and techniques for facilitating your team in an immersive learning process (yep, this is where we’ll serve up some of our secret ingredients).

Making the Most of Team Start Ups
Learn simple (yet super important) practices to orient and ground your team as you step into your next project or research project. We’ll share the magic principles and practices of the Team Start Up, Success Looks Like and Speaking Our Minds templates and explore other fun and powerful activities to enrich and enliven your sessions.

Yikes! Which Template is Best?
We’ll dish up the inside scoop on the how to’s for our most popular templates (aka Cool Tools) and review the wide array of choices available. Not sure what all the options are? Which template is best for what during Data Collection? Have a favorite you use a lot and want to branch out to try new ones? This is the session for you.

 

Okay, now for your input. We’re seriously interested in YOUR ideas for topics. So what’s attracting your attention? What topics are you wishing for, hoping for, just plain want right now?

We look forward to hearing from YOU!!

Hello world!

IdeaConnect – we’ve been around for a long time – you may be an old friend or perhaps you’ve never heard of us. So here’s a little bit about us.

IdeaConnect provides tools, trainings and workshops that enhance, enable and illuminate Facilitative Leaders, so that they – meaning you – can guide teams to achieve and exceed their own expectations (“team” being a very technical term that translates roughly as “any group of people that needs to get something done.”)

We’re the R&D arm and idea generator for Ah Ha!, an innovative facilitation and consulting company that works with teams of all kinds in gaining knowledge, integrating information and developing new connections – which serves as a very successful proving ground for our theory and practice.

But we didn’t want to stop there. Because, call us crazy, we’d rather let as many people people as possible in on the not-so-secret of what we do, and enable them to go off and do it for themselves.

So no matter what industry you work in, or what job title you have, we can guide you (facilitatively, of course) toward harnessing the power of people to achieve impressive real-world results.

Where it leads? That’s up to you.