Bente Ulfkjær is Director & Team Assistant in the central marketing department of an international division of one of Denmark´s largest corporations. She is a passionate Dialoogle user and employed the picture tool to revive the understanding of the role and targets of her team and the commitment to its strategies.
After several years of bustle, the marketing team that Bente Ulfkjær is part of needed to redefine its role in the large organisation it served. ”We had a lot of old fluffy words that no longer meant anything to us,” she says. So, she was assigned to do something about it.
”I prepared three workshops with the purpose of obtaining a clear picture of us as a team, the landscape we operate in, and our vision, mission and values.
During the first workshop the nine team members became acquainted with Dialoogle for the first time. And it turned out to be love at first sight. In simple exercises they agreed on two Magnum cards that symbolised their team – an elephant and a lion.
The next workshop took place a couple of weeks later. Based on Søren Kirkegaard´s famous saying that life must be lived forwards but understood backwards, Bente designed an exercise to describe the landscape that the marketing team was operating in in the past, at present and in the future. Three A3 size sheets of paper were hung up on the wall. The header of the first sheet said ‘Past’ followed by one question: How did our world look previously? The header of the second sheet said ‘Present’ and was followed by two questions: How does our world look today? What are the most important changes? The header of the third sheet said ‘Future’ and was followed by three questions: How will our world look in future? What will be the most important value we must create? And What will be the biggest changes we will see?
We use the cards whenever we can, and our manager presents the elephant and the lion each time he introduces the marketing team to others.
”I laid out four sets of Pocket cards on the floor. My idea was that the cards should cover as much of the floor space as possible. It turned out that the large number of small cards created a new effect. Participants came closer to the cards and also to each other,” Bente explains.
In each of the three steps of this exercise all participants had to choose one card in reply to each question, join each other in groups of three (new group for each question), agree on one card that would symbolise the group´s reply, present it to the entire team, and place their card on the relevant A3 sheet.
”Among the cards chosen was the picture of a greenhouse to illustrate the most important function of the marketing department: To help things grow. A road symbolised our need to be good navigators because we never know what’s around the next corner. And a lightning visualised that out of the blue the situation may change, and we must be prepared to respond to it.”
”In this way we created the platform for the last workshop, during which we would brainstorm our vision, mission and values. I removed the cards we had used and left the rest on the floor although we were not going to use them. But during our discussions people could not help turning to the cards to be inspired and get ideas, clear their thoughts and clarify their positions.”
”Later, when we analysed the function of the picture cards in our process, we made some interesting observations. For instance, everybody more or less reached the same conclusions although they had chosen different cards. Furthermore, it seemed that participants worked slowly in the first round when I was present as a facilitator, but faster and more efficiently in the third round when I was not in the room. Some people worked fast in one group and slower in another, which seems to indicate that our individual efficiency depends on who we are working with.”
Today the cards symbolising the team and its working landscape hang permanently on the notice board in the marketing department for daily inspiration.
”Everybody is very fond of Dialoogle. We use the cards whenever we can, and our manager presents the elephant and the lion each time he introduces the marketing team to others,” Bente Ulfkjær says.