This exercise has become a mainstay of my work with leaders as they try to discover and solidify their personal values and vision. It is a process that uses art as a means of getting people out of their heads and into their hearts. The art form is called "collage", which involves the use of glue, paper, fabric and other materials.
Have participants gather materials that resonate with them and place them together so they begin to create a visual representation of their vision and values.
The process takes at least two hours (but it is well worth the time)
Materials and Equipment
- Plastic table cloths
- A plastic cup filled with the glue/water mixture (50:50 glue to water) and a brush at each person’s place
- A central table (or two) with a collection of paper, fabric, and other materials
- The art boards (several shapes and sizes are good) on a central table where people can see them and choose one that resonates
- Provide the group personal time to reflect on values and vision. Sometimes this is already built into the workshop but if this material has not been covered recently, spend some time reviewing it before starting this art exercise.
- Ask participants to reflect on the following questions—alone and in a quiet setting:
- What are your top three personal values?
- What is your personal vision?
- Instruct participants on the collage art process:
- Explain what materials will be used and how
- Tell participants to choose an art board
- Ask them to collect any materials that resonate with them
- Explain that they can use scissors but also encourage tearing, which can be very liberating; straight edges are not necessary
- Tell them to allow the process to flow and not to think too much about what they are trying to produce
- Explain that all participants will be asked to talk about their piece when they are finished, but they will not be required to show it to anyone
- This exercise will be completed in silence
- Demonstrate the collage process by using a board, some paper and glue. Paint a generous amount of glue onto the board and place the paper into the glue. Add more glue over the top, using the brush or your fingers to press out any air bubbles. If you don’t like something, place something else on top. Use lots of glue.
Note: Silence should begin now. Ask people not to speak for the duration of the collage time. Tell them that if they have questions they can motion to you and you will meet them in the hallway outside the room. Make sure you follow this rule or the silence will not last.
- Call a Start to the process. Give the group at least 40-45 minutes and try to allow for more in case anyone needs extra time to complete the project. As people finish they will naturally move to the hall to chat. Do not allow anyone to break the silence for others.
- Begin the Debrief as soon as the collage process is completed. Plan for at least 45 minutes.
- Start with small groups (table groups). Ask each group to allow an opportunity for each individual to talk about what he/she noticed, learned, and experienced. Instruct the group to provide feedback to each person about what they hear.
- Conclude with a large group conversation during which you will review highlights from each table and allow people to share what they feel the need to share.
- Finalize by bringing participants back to the understanding of how important personal values and vision are to credibility and leadership.
- I don’t tell participants that they are going to do art during this exercise as this may cause unnecessary stress. I do tell them to wear old clothing as the glue is not easily washable.
- Once they are at the session I talk about the idea of using collage to explore values and vision. I talk about the benefits of getting out of our heads and into our hearts.
Kelly Ann McKnight, a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge, is a personnel development professional who focuses on bringing innovative training and coaching tools in leadership development, management development, behavioral profiling, and team building to her clients. She can be reached at www.stoneridgeconsulting.ca