Let’s try an experiment. Write down the features of a place where you enjoy spending time. This might be a room in your house, a place in nature, or another building. What makes this place appealing to you?
Once your list is complete, put down your pen, close your eyes, and visualize this place. Imagine that you are there. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you feel? Just take a minute to enjoy this space in your own mind.
Open your eyes and take a look at the list you created. What have you forgotten? Add features to the list to make it more complete.
When working with a team to develop a sense of purpose or goals, the power of pictures and imagery can play a useful role. Instead of asking a team to write down what it wants to accomplish, ask people to imagine a better future. Better yet, ask them to draw that future on a large sheet of paper.
In the course of drawing a picture, people tend to dig deeper for meaning. They make new connections. Pictures awaken the imagination and engage more of the senses. They are full of detail and richness.
Here’s another application. Suppose a team is stuck while brainstorming around a question such as “How might we get people to take more initiative?” Put an unrelated object in front of the group. This could be a frying pan, a roll of duct tape, or a basketball. Ask folks to think about that object for a minute. Allow a little time for thoughts and feelings about that image to emerge. Now go back to brainstorming and pay attention to any changes.
Not sure how this will work? It’s not guaranteed to work perfectly, but it will help the individuals change old thinking patterns. It will help create new ideas. And in those ideas, the perfect answer just might emerge.
When helping a team stretch, don’t just talk about it. Look at it, imagine it, and experience it. Let your imagination guide you to new possibilities.