Metaphors Used For Finding Team Values - Clean Language
I read the book “From Contempt To Curiosity - Creating the Conditions for Groups to Collaborate using Clean Language and Systemic Modelling” by Caitlin Walker and I had some takeaways that I apply already in my sessions about it here.
How clean language can help teams bond through metaphors and specific questions?
Which questions would help a team reflect upon their values and how to work together as ONE TEAM?
In many cases, teams are formed and they are supposed to work together with the best performance and produce fast results. How could they do this if they do not take the time to reflect upon their values, ways of collaborating, and what kind of work fits them as one team?
One of my preferred ways to help a team become a TEAM is to guide them in finding their values. In this way, they avoid starting point conflicts and broken collaboration.
I use powerful questions and Playmobil Pro in situations that fit the team.
Here are some questions inspired by Caitlin Walker’s book that are helpful for this and help reflection through metaphors:
  • “What could be a model or metaphor that encapsulates all the things that are most important to you as individuals in a team?”
  • “When you’re working at your best, you’re like what?”
  • “An ideal team for you, that would support you to work at your best, would be like what?”
An example when I used a metaphor to create a safe environment for a teambuilding:
I did not know back then that it was clean language, but I knew it was a reflection based on a metaphor.
I was co-facilitating a team building and the starting point of that afternoon was an invitation to the participants to complete the sentence “Our Team Is Like…”
The idea was that the participants would find their pair through a little game, and then take some moments to think and share the end of that sentence and why with each other.
They then return to the main group and share what the other person told them.
The power of the metaphor was increased by the fact that every share was transformed into a drawing, where I visualized their metaphors and their bonding happened when they realized how aligned they were, that they had the same ending point arriving there through different but similar metaphors.
They created one main team reflection: “We are all different and creating something unique together as one team” - see the attached drawing
Some benefits of using Clean language taken out of the book:
  • shorter and more productive meetings
  • people get less emotional when discussing conflicting ideas
  • metaphors help not criticize one another
  • make decisions that stick, do not have to go over them again
Bottom lines:
Clean language and systemic modeling that are described in the book of Caitlin Walker are to be used carefully where they fit, I find them a perfect match in combination with Playmobil Pro or Lego Serious Play to visualize the metaphors or visualize the outcome through drawings.
Andra Stefanescu
Metaphors Used For Finding Team Values - Clean Language
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