Elizabeth started the day by laying a Magnum Set out on the floor and asking all the board members to find a card illustrating their most important task as a board member.
“I expected that they would choose a card that said something about what they thought of the role of the board in general. But that was not the case. They chose cards that described their personal role on the board,” Elizabeth says.
One chose a card of a police officer directing traffic, because she interpreted her role as someone who gives directions. Another person chose a giraffe and focused on his role as someone who saw the bigger picture. A third person chose a picture of a crowded highway to illustrate that she felt it was her primary task to get things moving. And yet another one characterized herself as the guardian of diversity with a picture of an abundance of colourful flowers. Everyone benefited greatly from this exercise since it was the first time that their roles had been put in words.”
Next step was the vision. In which direction should the trade union go in 2013? Elizabeth spread out the cards on the floor again. The members chose new pictures and a large variety of different visions emerged. However, the financial situation was tight in the trade union. Therefore, in the third stage the challenge was to agree on a strategy of how to realize the visions with the limited means available.
Now the cards were laid out for the third time, and a rope was placed across the room. Each of the board members considered which kind of strategy they needed and chose a card to that effect. Then they were asked to pair up and negotiate which of one of the two cards represented a strategy they both could agree to. Then it was time to find another couple that had agreed – and agree on one card to represent the strategy that all four could agree to.
“In a trade union, people like to negotiate, so the room was bubbling with discussion. Finally, the entire board agreed on a joint strategy visualized by one single picture card – a picture of a golden ball that symbolized all the important elements of the strategy: Reflecting what you already have and see new forms, being round and flexible, being open and creative, protecting the warmth that the ball radiates in the picture.”
During the remaining day, working with the vision and finding out how to specifically convert the strategy into action, the board members took their personal picture cards with them, used them frequently, joked about their respective roles and borrowed each other’s cards to highlight their viewpoints.