Sunday 1 February 2015

Facilitating change

I use a number of different tools * in the work I do - some more conventional than others. The aim of using any of them is to inspire change when, and here's the important bit, when what you're doing isn't working. After all if what you were doing was working you wouldn't be stuck and in need of identifying a solution.

The key thing I have to remember is not every tool will work for every group or person or every situation, and not everyone will be comfortable with using all of the tools. It's certainly not about bullying people to use a tool they're not comfortable with.

What it is about is uncovering what's holding someone back and that unfortunately strays into what many call the soft fluffy stuff. But since we're all guided by our fluffy stuff every day it's no surprise the answers can often be found there.

Some of the tools * I use therefore deal with getting at and exploring the "fluff". It would be no use simply using Porter's five forces, Kraljic or even a stakeholder map if the problem holding you back is your resistance to change. Yes the others tools are safer and don't make people feel uncomfortable, but they also don't solve the problem if the solution will be found in your values and beliefs.

Never the less some of the tools are much more suited to personal coaching settings and others more applicable in business group settings.

That said I used the collage cards last week at the Scottish Institute for Business Leaders (SIBL) and much insight was gained and movement forward achieved for the business leaders concerned. Up till then, since attending the collage workshop late last year, I'd only used the process with personal, even if business, coaching clients.

Those attending the meeting were split into 2 groups - the first explored their issues using Action Learning. A second smaller, and yes willing, group came with me to explore their issues using the collage cards. 

We spent 2 hours together each pulling a number of cards to help them to:
  • Understand the characteristics of the current situation
  • Identify what was holding them back, and hopefully release it
  • Agree an action plan for the future 

I don't want to share too much due too confidentiality (to get a sense of what the process involves you can find more here - although it's much enhanced once others provide feedback too) but in summary:
  • A business plan was changed
  • A number of business goals were realigned
  • A few personal goals were stretched
  • Over half had their confidence in their resulting goals increased
  • A couple identified and started to release the fear surrounding their goals (would need an individual session with the individuals concerned to help do this more fully) 
  • Everyone's actions were grounded
And importantly for me, and a sign of the processes' efficacy
  • everyone asked if we could just bring the cuppa back into the room rather than have the 10 minutes break
  • everyone took a picture of their cards at the end
  • everyone enthused about the process and talked of wanting to use it on other challenges
No tool I have ever used has ever had such a resounding thumbs up. I know it's a small sample but I'm taking that as a positive sign of what might be possible with this process. I would certainly welcome further opportunities to use it in personal and business settings. You can contact me on or +44 (0)7770 538159.

Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out - when what you're doing isn't working

* In addition to collage cards other tools I use to support my coaching in a business setting might include NLP,  Frameworks for change coaching process, creative whack packoblique strategies, landscaping your life, and in a personal setting the Transformation Game. They're used because they're really effective at getting at what's holding people back and more importantly getting you back on track.


  1. A thoroughly enjoyable session.I have no idea how it is done: only that it stretches you, and gives you insights that otherwise you may have missed.

  2. Thank you - it was a very insightful session.

    Our mind is a wonderful thing and meaning making, our unconscious too. So when the two get together to find a solution to a problem and are told the picture provides the answer they will find it.

    That said I agree it's one of the most powerful tools I use - perhaps because it's less threatening than some of the more wordy tools. Perhaps too the combination of pictures in the collage provides a multitude of avenues to go down?