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 metaphor character cards enables them to depersonalise the conversation about behaviour and create a safe environment to exchange perspectives (Watch 3 minute video summary of the research: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONyVOkXNOFE ).
In the last workshop at KM Asia (Singapore), there were people from several cultural background involved in the dialogues. Participants in small groups categorised the behaviours into “expected”, “desired”, “tolerated” and “not tolerated” within a self selected context (example being: forming a community of practice, being a parent, in a crisis, as a project manager and building high performance teams). Each group then explained their choices of “animals” (behaviours) to the whole group which immediately stimulated a rich conversation about different perspectives on which behaviours were in which category. People brought out their values in the conversations showing how people can constructively discuss differences of perspective and still be involved in a constructive dialogue. Entertaining and insightful!
It was interesting to hear the exchange of values when the group were discussing the “correct” was to be a parent. Some were heavily supportive of strong discipline and others for more invest in fun with your children. The most important point was that they were able to have this exchange of views both constructively and deeply through using the relationships between the metaphor characters to come to a point where they each understood more deeply, rather than trying to argue about who was right. When was the last time you had a positive and constructive conversation with a group of colleagues?