The Center for Creative Leadership's Visual Explorer Playing Card set is used to facilitate creative conversations and deep dialogues using a wide variety of images on almost any leadership topic. It consists of 216 playing card-sized images (6.3 cm x 8.8 cm) and a Visual Explorer Facilitator’s Guide. The tool provides a method for supporting collaborative, creative conversations in a wide variety of situations to help develop ideas and insights into useful dialogue.
Where can Visual Explorer be used?
The facilitator’s guide outlines a surprising diversity of uses for the Visual Explorer tool:
- Seeking patterns in complex issues and making connections
- Seeking a variety of perspectives
- Asking new questions
- Eliciting stories and creating metaphors
- Tapping into personal experiences and passions
- Articulating what is known to the group
- Articulating what has been unspoken or “undiscussable”
- Creating dialogue
- Building on ideas
- Exploring the landscape of a complex set of issues
- Imagining alternatives
- Sparking humor and playfulness
As you can see, this isn’t just a brainstorming tool.
A key to Visual Explorer’s success has been its verstatility; there is no “right” or “wrong” way to use it. Although it was originally created to meet the needs of managers and leaders in organizational settings, it has been used successfully in a wide variety of settings. According to its developers, the Visual Explorer should be used when a situation is complex and has unknown elements and hidden assumptions embedded in it
Learn more about the Visual Explorer tools and how they can help you solve complex problems with creative leadership.
Read what others are saying about this tool.
Why use images?
Some of the benefits of using a pictorial approach include:
• Tapping into personal experiences and passions.
• Surfacing and engaging emotional undercurrents.
• People frame and illustrate their thoughts with each other.
• Surfacing individual and shared assumptions.
• Allows for self-disclosure and vulnerability in a safe context.
• Understanding multi-dimensional concepts.
• Images bridge differing context and cultures.
Researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership have developed an expansive set of tools to help groups engage in mediated dialogue. Recognizing that dialogue is a difficult skill to develop, the use of an artifact or identity object has been found to help facilitate a group in engaging in dialogue. The process of dialogue requires surfacing assumptions and understandings, displaying these publicly, and creating shared sense-making through inquiry (Palus & Drath, 2001).
When an evaluation process has a need to uncover assumptions and create meaning, a mediate approach using images may be a fruitful process- not just collecting data, but also engaging participants and others in a developmental experience. Other researchers within the visual sociology, ethnography or anthropology field have found photography a valuable means of qualitative research (Schwartz, 1989; Weade & Ernst, 2001, Brace-Govan, 2007).
According to Weade and Ernst (pg. 133), “they [metaphors] take us beyond the particular, the literal and the moment to moment details of everyday experience…language, then, provides ways of assigning meaning to what we encounter visually, and it enables us to extend or enhance our interpretations of what we see.”
This is used as:
- A business coaching tool for management coaching and leadership workshops
- A brainstorming tool to facilitate communication about leadership topics
- An experiential activity during coaching and mentoring activities
- A great corporate icebreaker game to help teams and leaders get to know each other
Highly recommended for:
- Business coaches, workshop trainers and facilitators
- Managers and team leads
- Business Leaders
- Human resource departments