Pia Hansen is the manager of a cluster of eight kindergartens in the Danish city of Odense on Funen. When two of them were to merge, Dialoogle’s guide to Visual Innovation became a useful tool.
Mergers and organisational changes often create a sense of insecurity that easily leads to cultural clashes and potential resistance among affected staff. This was also the case in Odense, when two out of nine kindergartens were to be integrated. A lot of questions arose among managers and employees, such as: Will the new institution be too big? How will children and parents react? How will it affect my professionalism? Will we loose our culture? And will I loose my job?
In order to deal with all the worries the manager, Pia Hansen, turned to one of her favourite tools – Dialoogle. She gathered all employees from the two kindergartens and asked each of them to pick a card to illustrate the worst scenario that could happen as a result of the merger.
“One of them chose a picture of a spider web as a symbol of an endless number of threads that would have to be connected, and the risk that something would fall through the net. A ball became the symbol of the fear that children and staff would become playthings in the process. And with a picture of an old tree stump the risk of children feeling rootless in the new integrated kindergarten became almost tangible,” Pia explains.
During her seven years as manager Pia has strived to mobilise her 90 employees around a common vision: We will always do what’s best for the children.
”As a result we stand shoulder by shoulder today, and everybody knows that no one will be left in the lurch since that would not be in the children’s best interest. This was a good starting point for a creative process to allow us not only to deal with all the worries illustrated by the pictures but also to pinpoint and make real use of all the new opportunities that a merger creates,” Pia says.
By means of exercises from Dialoogle’s guide Visual Innovation Creates Business Results Pia managed to motivate her staff to think positive and be creative. At this stage in the process people chose a different kind of pictures – of trees with light green shoots, of sunlit landscapes and of happy children and adults.
”It took long for people to find exactly the right pictures and symbols. They thought out of the box and dreamt big. Of course, an implementation of all the great ideas was not realistic. But in the motivation section of the guide we discovered methods to sort and adapt the ideas to allow us to gain maximum benefit from them,” Pia explains.
With their skills and knowledge of the children and what had worked well for them previously, the staff took charge of planning how the transition should take place. Over three months parents were involved and job rotation and mutual child visits to the two kindergartens took place so that everybody was allowed to ”dip toes” with each other prior to the actual merger.
Also when it came to the actual implementation of the new ideas, Pia and her staff found useful methods in the guide to visual innovation.
”We obtained very positive results from using this manual. I picked the processes that I found relevant and adapted them to our needs. The creative layer in the guide allowed us to let dreams and ideas fly high, which is important. And the exercises in the innovative and implementing layers were a great help in the difficult phases where we had to prioritise our ideas and find ways of putting them into practise.”
Today everyone is happy about the new combined kindergarten where all the best from before is supplemented and improved by means of new innovative initiatives. Dialoogle cards from the process hang on the walls reminding the staff of how to do their best in order for the children to thrive and develop.
”In all eight kindergartens we have created a mutual culture and a common set of values that both children and adults enjoy. It’s pretty amazing and we get a lot of praise for it,” Pia concludes.
The creative layer in the guide allowed us to let dreams and ideas fly high, which is important. And the exercises in the innovative and implementing layers were a great help in the difficult phases where we had to prioritise our ideas.