Recently at KM Asia in Singapore I co facilitated a workshop with Arthur Shelley from Intelligent Answers. We aimed at facilitating the workshop so the participants could develop an understanding of the use of metaphor through the Organizational Zoo (see Organizational Zoo in blog roll) cards and how this metaphor can contribute to developing an understanding of and working with a variety of behaviors in a team and collaborative context.
The group was a highly multicultural group with people from Malaysia, Chinese mainland, Egypt, Singapore and India. The workshop was structured around developing an understanding in the first instance of the use of metaphor. This was achieved by introducing the participants to some of the animal characters in the zoo so they could talk about what came to mind, when, for example they saw the picture of the lion. This developed a common understanding of the concept and a sense of confidence and safety in using the concept of metaphor to understand behaviors.
We then built teams using the notion of animal metaphor and which set of behaviors and characteristics would contribute positively and then negatively to a team. Rich conversation evolved out of this exercise and it became clear to people that the issue of behavior was contextual.
Participants then worked in small groups, designing their own scenario to apply the techniques . They were asked to look at behaviors in this instance that were highly desirable , good to have , tolerated and not desirable. Some of the scenarios chosen were ” Being a Parent” and “Giving a Performance Review” The outcomes of the exercise generated a great deal of conversation, debate and knowledge sharing which would not have occurred as easily without the metaphors. It also developed a sense of collaborative activity and dialogue amongst the group and a respect of the notion that there are many differences in how we do things.
Comments made by the participants were very positive:
“Very informative, fun and interactive. I can apply what I learnt in may situations. I am eager to use it.”
“Interesting way of understanding behaviors in organizations. Effective and impactful way to stimulate collaborative practices for enhanced performance. These methods of facilitation/teaching have a lasting impact. than the traditional methods. A perfect way to learn through fun.”
“The workshop has introduced me to interesting technique in profiling behavior. I can definitely see many usage techniques in the following scenarios- team building, hiring/staffing, adapting different behaviors during project lifestyles”