Metaphor to assist knowledge transfer

Over the last few months I have been involved in a number of workshops using the Organizational Zoo metaphor character cards to engage people in conversations on how behavioural interactions impact knowledge sharing and relationships. These fun interactions draw on the diversity of behaviours, experiences and cultures in the room to generate shared insights that i believe would not have occurred if it were not for the creativity and "out of the box" interactions.  Participants have said that having the...

Career Path Metaphor

People often ask me about the origins of the cover image on The Organizational Zoo.   Although it is a LONG story, in short it took several drawings over several months to get the message right.  We wanted to portray the behaviours people encounter on their career path through a typical organisation. You can see the kid (naive recruit) about to enter the front gate of the zoo (organisation) and as one would expect the Owl (eternal mentor) ready to greet them at the gate....

Is your culture fruit salad or amorphous fruit pulp?

The recent media debates on multicultural societies and leveraging diversity stimulated my thinking about metaphors that fit this debate. As a lover of fruits, I thought when do I want and apple versus an orange or fruit salad? Why (or perhaps when) would I choose these individual fruits rather than simply blending them and get all together?  In many ways a culture is a blend too - some with a dynamic mix of many recognisable behaviours and values operating in...

Aligning behaviour for optimal sharing

For some people, life is like a series of somewhat unpredictable interactions that just happen to them - and can lead to benefits or tragedies.  They react to what the environment "allows" rather than create the environment they would like to experience.  However, occasionally, we also see someone who always seems to "get what they want" and appears to lead the environment rather than be constrained by it. How does this happen? What do they have that others do not? The...

Metaphor as a catalyst for positive change

I am often asked for “proof” that metaphor techniques work in the business environment and also in other situations such as community, home, family and school. I have been using metaphor techniques since 2000 and have many examples of success in team environments.  Due to privacy and research ethics restrictions, I cannot reveal specifically who these examples apply to, but I can discuss the situations in a generic sense to highlight the power of metaphor interactions. One team had a 30% turnover...

Behaviours at Year End Break Up Parties!

Most organisations have some sort of "year end" breakup party just preceding the holiday season of their culture. A celebration of what has been achieved and what there is to look forward to in the following year.  These are the absolute best times to understand the REAL culture of your organisation.  As an example, over the next few days many organisations around the world will be breaking up for Christmas where there will be ample flow of alcohol and consequently...

The cycles of life: A metaphorical tradition

Many countries celebrate a “Festive season break up” in December or January/February. It may be the financial cycles of the organisation, the tradition of Christmas or Chinese New Year or any of a range of other natural cycles. I sometimes wonder whether we celebrate surviving another cycle or we are celebrating the beginning of the next cycle. We even count the cycles in terms of our age, they year of the XYZ, anniversaries, the decade of ABC, person of the...

Enhancing Professional Coaching with Metaphor

Performance is a big focus of professional coaching and behaviour is a big part of performance. A concept that stimulates a reflective dialogue about the impact of behaviour on performance is a useful interaction, providing it is done in a constructive manner. In coaching, there are a number of ways which metaphor can be used as it provides a creative mechanism to trigger novel ways to assess who we are and why we act the way we do. Behaviour has a...

Leadership in Action? No – just Leadership Inaction

The recollections from my last post created another thought about a story I shared at the power of place session at the International Leadership Association global conference. It highlighted the difficulties the Australian aboriginal peoples encountered with the arrival of the English settlers. My early childhood in “the outback” was a time when aboriginals were treated as second class citizens (and unfortunately still are by some). As a naïve child I could not understand why my dark skinned friends with...

Place, experience, identity and belonging

Connections are strange things - they seem to come out of nowhere, but have importance to us and how we lead others.  A few weeks ago three unrelated things happened a few days apart that triggered me to recall two unrelated memories from my childhood. These stimulated some useful reflections on our behaviour as professionals and in which boat we should be. I attended a session on the use of multiple senses and poetry to influence perception at the ILA...

From Lead Gunners to Gun Leaders

In Australia the slang term “Gunner” is a derogatory term for someone who is always shooting off ideas but rarely does anything about them. It comes from their constant verbal shots of “I am gunner do this and they are gunner do that…”. The lead gunner wants to look good by spruiking ideas, but knows that attempting delivery of their “great idea” is a risk. It requires action and capability they are not confident about, so they have handy a...

Boundary riders for creative innovation

Boundary Spanning Leadership, a book by Chris Ernst and Donna Chrobot-Mason from the Center for Creative Leadership was released last week has been an immediate success. It is in fact, a good example of its own philosophies in that it draws on a wide range of ideas from many contexts to support the research on which it is based. It also leverages the impressive networks into which the CCL authors have within their circles of influence to promote the ideas...

The intersection of thoughts: Attendee or Participant?

This week represented a unique intersection of experiences for me. I am on a speaking tour of east coast USA for three weeks and it is 5 AM on Sunday morning in Boston. No, not jetlag - my mind is wide awake and bursting with ideas. For the last four days I have been attending the International Leadership Association (ILA) conference and heard a wide range of ideas about what leadership should be and how leaders how leaders need to...

Reflective Metaphor Model for Performance

I have been developing a new model to enhance performance through an action research program. It combines reflective practice, conversations that matter, behavioural metaphor and assessments of impacts on (largely intangible) performance outcomes. Application of the new model (illustrated) is highlighting the power of combining these concepts into an ongoing capability development cycle. By adapting the behaviours required at each stage of the cycle, the individual or team can align thinking to desired outcomes (such as impact on stakeholders and...

Wiki Conversation Visualised

A group of my students studying knowledge based performance are each asked to research a separate topic and then write about it in a wiki. They insert links in the context of their own topic to the topics researched by other students to demonstrate the interdependence of each field. After this has been done they are asked to engage in a "Conversation that Matters" (see Jan 4 post) about the relationships between each of the topics. Whilst they have this...


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