This is a powerful exercise that can help managers to understand what their team thinks of the organisation’s structure. Such structures are used by companies in order to communicate their vision with staff on how the company is managed so the whole company can work together as a well-functioning team.
Any such structures may be subject to change. This could be because of market change, new products, new competitors, new vision, new management and so on. It is important to educate the team about the new organisational structure and this is when this exercise comes in handy.
The aim of this exercise is to find out what the team thinks of the company or organisation as a whole. It is simple to execute and if carried out well, it can be quite powerful. It is the kind of exercise that delegates remember for quite some time to come.
This exercise is ideal for change management, team building and understanding how various parts of an organisation communicate and interact with each other. You can customise the exercise to explore how the organisation already works or how it should work.
This exercise is ideal for delegates who work together or are part of the same organisation. Ideally someone from the management team should also be present during this exercise to listen in and take notes on what delegates share.
Show a series of images to delegates and use these to encourage the delegates talk about what they think of their organisation.
What You Need
- A series of printed photos. Make sure you have at least two or ideally three images per delegate to choose from. The exercise works only if delegates have a choice rather than being forced into using a specific image.
- Here are examples of some images:
- Make the images available to all delegates.
- Ask the delegates to choose an image each. Explain that they must choose an image that in their view best represents their organisation.
- Allow some time for them to think and pick.
- Once they have chosen their images, ask delegates one by one to explain why they chose that image.
- For example, they may say the following for these example images:
This organisation is heading into an unknown future. There will be challenges ahead but there is no way to avoid them and we are heading into this mysterious future without much knowledge and with no alternative routes. It is daunting, scary and uncomfortable. Who knows, maybe there is a broken bridge we find ourselves on or even worse, another train is approaching head on.
This organisation is as complex as a hard disk. There are many components that need to work together in a precise way before the whole machine can work and produce the ideal results. Failure or malfunction of a single part can lead to drastic results for the whole.
Every part of this organisation has its own specific use and benefits. Different departments can be diverse and yet when put together they lead to a certain beauty and function that cannot be achieved any other way. Each fruit, much like each member of the team, is valued and only together collectively can become a beautiful basket of fruits.
- Allocate enough time for each delegate to express their thoughts since this is the core objective of the exercise. The image is an excuse to get people talking and much can be learned from what is shared.
- This is also a great opportunity for the management to listen in and see what the team thinks of the current structure. This can then help them move forward.
- After everyone has expressed their opinion and shared how they think their chosen image relates to the organisation, get them to discuss and comment on each other’s views. Again the discussion can shed light on the team’s view of the organisation, teamwork, management and the general direction of the company. This can be used by the management team for further planning.
- Finish by summarising key points.
Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes
Activity: 2 min * N delegates = 12 minutes for 6 delegates
Group Feedback: 10 minutes
What did you think of other people’s choices of images and explanations? What did other people think of yours? Was there a pattern in what was identified? Are you surprised how other team members think about the organisation? Are your views in line with the team or the management or do you feel others are surprised by your views? What can be done to improve any shortcoming? In what direction should the company move towards?