The power of visual representation in team work

It’s been a week of the ‘virtual visuals’ in Maier’s digital team work – proving to be thought provoking and even quite emotional at times. Most of us have probably been ‘enjoying’ (if that’s the right word!) some social distance time out with family and friends on Zoom quiz time. Interestingly, the questions being posed seem to be getting increasingly ambitious and creative. Think, General Knowledge with the longest river or mountain range moving into Catch Phrase and Mr Chips, and aerial shots of global locations – definitely tapping into a new bit of the brain’s potential and reflecting a basic need of wanting something fresh and different when everything around us is in danger of becoming repetitive.

We’ve seen this in how most organisations are responding too; increasingly needing to transition from the primary focus on the here and now of immediate problem solving into the creative and more visionary thinking that has contributed to previous successes. In MBTI terms, the ‘N’ of the iNtuitive needs to come back onto the stage.

One of our global clients posed the problem of;

‘How can we rearticulate and reimagine what this team looks like when it’s not in crisis mode, but flying high? Because that is where we need to get back to now. We’ve been brilliant at keeping things going, but now it’s time for our unique and creative flair to come back into play’

We’ve always loved to tap into the senses in our work at Maier (a bit of NLP never goes amiss with visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning preferences) so, in one leap from quiz land to the more serious challenges of business we moved into visual representations to help answer that question.

Starting with images, drawn roughly, and held up to camera, the results were immediate and visceral in answering this question:

Before we were overtaken by the pandemic and crisis management, what did this team look and feel like when it ‘was flying high’?

Image 1; Moving back in together 

“This is how I feel at moment, I want us to move out of our individual house on the hill where we’ve landed and back into the shared apartment block with all the lights blazing and interconnected. This is when we fly high as a team”.

Image 2; Beautifully synchronized cogs

“The wheels or cogs are different sizes, but they all fit together and move fluidly and effectively to give momentum and direction. But they are not just any old cogs, these are beautifully synchronized representing ‘one team, one goal, on top.’ The faces on the top of the wheels, yes they all have lipstick and style!”

Images 3 & 4; The rising sun and shining star

“This team is stellar; high performing, accomplished and amazing.

“Shining its shared light – ‘let’s go”

Of course, in some ways you had to be there to appreciate the sharing of the images, their degrees of artistic prowess, a leaning to the kindergarten, and some of the energy and sense of fun that this gave rise to.

But none of that mattered because it was the visual prompts that released the passion of the words and the realisation that the team needed to regain some of its creative confidence. The rest of the workshop was around how they were going to do just that.