A quick visual exercise can utterly transform how a group understands itself.
I recently worked with a Board that perceived themselves as very divided. One camp was supposedly dedicated solely to the organization’s Program H and placed an extremely low value on Program C; the other camp reversed these values. They told this story over and over again.
However, as I interviewed each member individually, I heard no evidence that their values were so far apart as they seemed.
During their strategic planning retreat, I handed each member Post-it notes and asked them to draw pie charts indicating what percentage of the organization’s resources should be devoted to each program during three different time frames (now, in two years, in five years).
When they were posted on the wall, the participants saw that they were actually all very much in alignment. In fact, the supposed champions of program H had actually allocated a GREATER percentage of resources to program C than the supposed program C champions!
A huge barrier was quickly demolished, and the group began to see themselves as more of a team. The rest of the day flowed smoothly; disagreements still existed, but there was little heat – they were able to listen to each other and work through them because they no longer viewed each other as opponents with wildly different values.