Getting people to talk isn’t hard. Getting people to talk, in depth and with reflection, honesty and clarity can be. CCL has created an approach called mediated dialogue and the Leadership Explorer series of tools to help you facilitate interesting, important conversations.

Hamish Taylor, founder of Scotland-based Shinergise Partners, weighed in on CCL’s Leadership Explorer tools — and his own innovations for stirring creative conversations — in a recent e-mail interview. Here’s an edited version.

Visual Explorer. “The mother of all the decks remains the mother of invention! Versatile and interesting to use individually or in groups. I find the most valuable prompt to be, Tell me about your organization. I then use what has become my stock phrase, Pick as many cards as you like, as few as you need. I also use the VE cards as an introduction tool, randomly taping the images under the seats, and giving the instruction: “Using the card provided, introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about you.” This makes introductions very much more exciting.”

Leadership Metaphor Explorer. “My regular companion; I rarely travel without a set. I have found them so useful and versatile, creating real added value in a wide variety of situations. I use these as often with individuals as I do with teams, and they always have an amazing a-ha moment.”

Values Explorer. “I tend to use this with teams when I work with them for the first time or when there has been a significant personnel shift within the team or organization. One major client was undergoing a reorganization in which many people had to re-apply for posts, switch teams and be re-allocated to slightly different functions. I used Values Explorers with the team to re-check on the values of the organization and to ask whether any of these would change or be challenged by the reorganization — answer a resounding NO.  This allowed people to be extremely reassured and to re-engage with confidence.”

Olfactory Explorer. “Developed originally by CCL’s David Horth, Chuck Palus and myself to explore with Yankee Candle. The idea here is simply to use fragrance stimuli to get ‘out of the box’ to scope out different perspectives and experiences. I spent 20 years in the fragrances world and 8 years in the flavors world, so I have access to a wide variety of olfactory stimuli for conversations and exploration — but I still take out those candles on occasion!”

Toilet Brush Explorer. “Now this is pushing the limits! I regularly travel with a suitcase full of toilet brushes, standard ones, others with multi-colored bristles, some with complete stands and child-guards, etc. I hand out the basic ones and ask the audience how they would innovate them and what consumer insight is behind their innovation idea. You can imagine playing this with 120 people in a room sitting at 10 tables, pitching teams against each other and selecting a winner. It is a riot and works with big audiences or small teams.”

What are your ideas? How can you — creatively — get people talking about what matters most?


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