Bright Blurry Blind
Type: Creating a sense of community; intra and inter departmental communication; Breakdown of “Silos” within organizations; allows participants to openly speak about current issues within the team and organization.
Group Size: 5 – 500; participants are asked to work in their existing work teams i.e. Accounting is together in one team, Human Resources is together another team, Sales etc..
– Additional ideas for School Groups – split by grade level taught, split by curriculum taught, split by who reports to who – be creative!
– The important thing is that the teams are made of people that they work with and they all share similar tasks, supervisors, roles, responsibilities, and culture.
Time Frame: 60-120 minutes depending on group size and momentum of discussions.
Goals: By giving the teams and participants an opportunity to think and speak about concerns and give accolades to each other a powerful bond is created. Additionally by illuminating topics within departments and the organization, teams can then brain storm and strengthen the team. Facilitating a “one team” atmosphere then empowering the participants to share information and techniques that are successful that may have never had the opportunity to be shared in an open forum.
Materials: – Flip chart paper – enough for two sheets per functional work group
– A variety of magic markers
– Metaphor Cards; cards with images on them with no definitive meaning. These cards are a way for participants to discuss and determine the teams BRIGHT BLURRY BLIND areas.
* You can make your own cards using index cards and cutting out and pasting various images on the index cards or they can be purchased – Teachmeteamwork.com or Chiji.
Briefing: “We all know that within our small teams and within the organization there are several ideas and issues that 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 the metaphor cards, two pieces of flip chart paper, and some markers then return to their team.
These metaphor cards are just images that will be used to aid your team in clarifying the areas that will be discussed. Metaphor cards have no right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative meaning. The only meaning they have is what you and your team attach to them.
In a moment I am going to ask each small team to choose three metaphor cards with various meaning attached to them. The team must be in agreement of which three cards to use and what each card will symbolize for each small team.
– One Card is going to 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 that represents 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 in-secure about in reference to the organization and it’s status within the organization. Blurry is a topic or issue that if it was made brighter much of the “Gossip” would cease to exist and questions would be answered.
– The third card that represents what they feel is BLIND – Blind is not known, lacking from the system or that the team feels is kept from them. Blind issues or topics are ones that the team feels only they struggle with and no other team are aware of. If the Blind issues and topics 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 organizational and teams that are present for the activity.
Processing: 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 flip chart papers, allow 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 areas that were BRIGHT 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 who are responsible for addressing and developing a system to enhance transparency and communication within the organization. The team can use the information gathered for a starting point.
*** DO NOT LET THIS INFORMATION GO UNUSED! If you lead this team building activity and do nothing you will create an environment that is more hostile and subversive than before you began.
Variations: – Try the activity without the metaphor cards, use plastic animals (sharks, camels, pigs, donkeys) Fruit (real or plastic) or no props just ask the questions.
– Have the participants paint the BRIGHT BLURRY BLIND on canvases using acrylic or latex paints. Then hang the artwork in a lobby, classroom, or office space.
michael cardus is create-learning