Since initially creating and posting this communication & team-building activity in 2008, I have used it in several contexts from CEOs, MBA students, Non-Profit leadership, teachers, children, and beyond.
The activity is also valuable for 1 on 1 coaching and exploring areas of change and steps to move from the present into the future. Facilitating organizations, teams, people to determine action steps and triggers to be more effective and work to support their talents.
Bright / Blurry / Blind
An initiative that highlights the value of cooperation rather than competition.
5 – 500; participants are asked to work in their existing work teams, i.e., Accounting is together on one team, Human Resources is together on another team, Sales, etc.
60-120 minutes depending on group size and momentum of discussions
Flip chart paper – enough for two sheets per functional workgroup
A variety of magic markers
Metaphor Cards; cards with images on them with no definitive meaning. These cards allow participants to discuss and determine the team’s BRIGHT BLURRY BLIND areas.
* You can make your own cards using index cards, cutting and pasting various images on the index cards, or they can be purchased at Teach Me Team Work or Chiji
A powerful bond is created by allowing the teams and participants to think and speak about concerns and give accolades to each other. Additionally, teams can then brainstorm and strengthen the team by illuminating topics within departments and the organization and facilitating a “one team” atmosphere, then empowering the participants to share information and successful techniques that may have never had the opportunity to be shared in an open forum.
We all know our teams and the organization. Several ideas and issues seem obvious to us and not to anyone else. As a team, it is important to create a culture of transparent and open communication of needs and requirements for our teams and individuals to be their most effective. I ask that one representative from each team come and gather a small stack of metaphor cards, two pieces of flip chart paper, and some markers, then return to their team.
These metaphor cards are just images that will aid your team in clarifying the areas that will be discussed. Metaphor cards have no right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative. The only meaning they have is what you and your team attach to them.
In a moment, I will ask each small team to choose three metaphor cards with various meanings attached to them. The team must agree on which three cards to use and what each card will symbolize for each small team.
One Card will represent BRIGHT – Bright is an issue or topic that is out in the open, clearly evident to the team about the organization. Bright is common knowledge everyone knows that this is an area of concern for the team and the organization.
The second card representing BLURRY – Blurry is known and not spoken about enough, a subject that should become Brighter. Blurry is the undercurrent water cooler talk the area that the team feels insecure about within the organization and its status. Blurry is a topic or issue that, if it were made brighter, much of the “Gossip” would cease to exist, and questions would be answered.
The third card represents what they feel is BLIND – Blind is not known, lacking the system, or the team feels kept from them. Blind issues or topics are ones that the team feels only they struggle with and no other teams are aware of. When the Blind problems and questions became Brighter, the organization would become transparent and create a paradigm shift towards excellence.
The teams are asked to choose the three metaphor cards (one for BRIGHT, one for BLURRY, and one for BLIND), write these on flip chart paper, and then present the BRIGHT BLURRY BLIND to the entire organization and teams that are present for the activity.
BRIGHT BLURRY BLIND is an initiative that can stir up some powerful emotions and discussions. Be prepared to be open to the team criticizing and touching on topics that create conflict. The way this initiative is ended can create some real growth and increase trust within the organization.
After each team has had the chance to present their BRIGHT BLURRY BLIND charts, ask them to hang them on the walls. Give participants approximately 15-30 minutes (more time if necessary) to walk around and view the other team flipchart papers, allowing for some unstructured speaking and question and answers sessions.
Following the unstructured viewing, time call the participants back into their functional teams and ask them to gather by their flip chart papers. Some possible processing questions:
• How were the metaphor cards chosen for the BRIGHT the BLURRY and the BLIND?
• How effective was the group’s communication process?
• In what ways were disagreements settled?
• What was the easy part? What made it easy?
• What was the challenging part? What challenges were faced?
• Are there any common themes that we noticed amongst all the departments?
• What BLURRY topics can we discuss right now to make BRIGHT?
• Any surprises that were found amongst teams with the BLIND areas?
• Are the BRIGHT areas to one team BRIGHT to all or other teams?
• What are the causes of BRIGHT BLURRY BLIND topics within organizations?
• How can we as a team minimize the BLIND areas?
• What are going to do with this information?
* Possibly ending the day by creating a team of individuals responsible for addressing and developing a system to enhance transparency and communication within the organization. The team can use the information gathered as a starting point.
** DO NOT LET THIS INFORMATION GO UNUSED! If you lead this team-building activity and do nothing, you will create a more hostile and subversive environment than before you began.
Try the activity without the metaphor cards, use plastic animals (sharks, camels, pigs, donkeys), Fruit (real or plastic), or no props; ask the questions.
Have the participants paint the BRIGHT BLURRY BLIND on canvases using acrylic or latex paints. Then hang the artwork in the lobby, classroom, or office space.