Michael Meinhardt is a specialist in DIY tools for management and staff development. He recommends Dialoogle for the facilitation of group introductions.
When we meet in groups in new contexts in order to achieve something together, we usually begin by introducing ourselves. However, all too often we do it in an unstructured way; we babble a little and blush – and the introduction round becomes a tedious affair. As a consequence we are unable to remember what others have said.
”It is such a shame because it does not allow people to benefit from each other’s knowledge and experience. This is why the introduction round deserves to be spiced up,” says Michael Meinhardt. He is a management consultant and partner at Moving YOU, a company that specialises in DIY tools and systems for management and staff development. He also teaches people how to use them.
When Michael was hosting the annual meeting of 17 colleagues from all over Europe, he chose to use Dialoogle in the traditional introduction round when everybody describes how things are going for them.
It was a sunny day so Michael took the group outside. On the lawn he laid out two Magnum sets and placed a long rope in a horseshoe shape a little further away. While one end of the rope symbolised a zero point, the other end represented complete success. – The rope is a simple way of creating a baseline for registering any progress or change that may occur later.
Michael asked his colleagues to pick out three picture cards to illustrate their situation – and go to the place on the rope that would match the degree of their business success right now.
”What happened was amazing. Without hesitation they spread out over the entire rope,” Michael says. A German colleague had placed himself at the zero point of the rope, and Michael asked him if he would be the first to introduce himself.
”He starts talking to us while holding up one of his cards – a flat tire. His business is deflated. Completely. He elaborates while showing us another card – an old Celtic cross tombstone. He says he will close his business in a couple of days. It has no future. It is dead. With the third card in his hand, he tells us how he feels about what is happening.”
An introduction round deserves to be spiced up.
”It is extremely hard to be the first to introduce yourself in a situation like this. But you relax and feel secure when you look at a picture and hold a card in your hand. It’s easier to open up and cope with sorrows and difficulties.”
With great attention the group listened to a string of simple, honest stories about complicated situations, which everybody understood and remembered. Michael noticed that the more successful a colleague was, the more colourful and complex were the pictures he chose. He also made another interesting observation:
”Just as the picture cards make sad emotions easier to talk about, the opposite also happens. The success stories at the other end of the rope were more down-to-earth and less ‘hot air’.”
Michael Meinhardt uses Dialoogle in a great many ways. On this day the picture cards helped him achieve what he wanted. At the same time his network got a good impression of what this tool can do.