Generating ideas, connections, and action

Leadership Tip: Peer Learning Community Series


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Leadership programs have an opportunity to create a community of learning among participants. These relationships can extend well beyond the formal duration of a program to support ongoing learning and collaboration that will increase the impact of your program over time. The first series of our tips section focuses on the topic of developing and nurturing a peer learning community within a leadership program.

The Power of Using imagery

Why use imagery: Imagery can be an important tool for helping a group to develop a deeper level of relationship and authenticity. Using images to engage in discussion around a subject will usually illicit a more personal and evocative response. Images encourage descriptiveness and a new way of talking about issues that moves us beyond old language that may hold a lot of unexplored assumptions. Imagery supports different learning modalities that may not be tapped in traditional meeting formats. And, using imagery is fun and easy. So try it.

How to use imagery: When you are going to have a conversation or meeting about a topic, let’s say, “sustainability during a difficult economy,” you lay a lot of images out on tables, the floor, any available surface. You want to have more images than participants. Instruct the participants to select an image they are drawn to as they reflect on “sustainability during a difficult economy.” You will find that people adapt the rules, some take 2-3 images, others choose to piggy back on an image that someone else has taken. It’s all good. After folks have selected their images it is best to be in a circle and go around the room describing the image they were drawn to and why. It could be interesting to have someone map the words that are used and notice the new language, metaphors and ideas that have emerged in relation to this topic. It will set a good foundation for the next part of the conversation with a deeper level of personal connectivity.

Imagery tools: It’s helpful to have a lot of images from nature as nature provides wonderful metaphors and lessons for our work that we may lose sight of. It’s also helpful to have a mix of images with a diversity of people. You can tear images out of magazines, National Geographic (you can get these from recycling outfits), all those brochures you have collected and don’t know what to do with or favorite magazines. You will be surprised what people will choose and where the images take them. The Center for Creative Leadership also has a box set of image cards. If you are using these on a phone call you can use this sheet of images and send them to everyone in advance. Please share your experiences or ideas with using art and imagery for building community and deep conversation.

Images Sheet.pdf1.28 MB


Visual Explorer

The Center for Creative Leadership has a valuable website with stories about how organizations are using Visual Explorer as a tool for stimulating creative conversations, community engagement, and dialogue for making sense of complex challenges.  LLC has also been exploring how groups can create collective collages that bring together individual images into a relationship with one another.  Check out one of the collages created at a recent meeting here.