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Visual Explorer™: June 2009

June 30, 2009

Visual Explorer™ in Afghanistan

Here is a repost from the CCL Leading Effectively blog. Clemsen Turregano goes on to talk about members of the Afgan Army picking Visual Explorer images to define leadership "in their hearts and their heads."
clipped from

Leadership Essentials in Afghanistan

Clemson Turregano traveled to Afghanistan to deliver a Leadership Essentials program to the Afghan Army. In a series of posts on the Leading Effectively blog he recounts the experience:
“We would have to deliver in Dari. We would be working with a population that although very intelligent, and may not have a had a great deal of formal education. Every one we would be working with had served in war, with the Northern Alliance, the Mujahadeen, or even the Soviets. Some of these men had actually fought against each other, on opposite sides, at different times.
more part 1>> and more part 2>> and more part 3>>

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June 27, 2009

Jane Goodall Global Youth Summit: Video introduction to VE

from David Shurna on Vimeo
Visual Explorer™ was used to close Jane Goodall's Global Youth Summit, and the event was captured on video. The question posed was "What is one of the most important things that you learned about leadership at the Global Youth Summit?" The power of their week-long leadership experience shines through in their stories and images. Enjoy! Thanks to David Shurna at Global Explorers, and thanks especially to the participants.

The video is a good introduction to Visual Explorer™ in action (another intro to VE is posted here). The main difference from a typical VE session is that in this case, since time was limited, there were no small group dialogues. We recommend breaking into small groups of 3-5 to share the images and stories in great detail, using the dialogue technique called the Star Model.

Notice David's technique of combining the digital images of the selected images with the text written by each person, and making that into an animated power point show. You can view that show by itself, as a powerpoint show, by downloading it here. Below are two examples.

sharing a VE image at the Summit
-----Original Message-----
From: David Shurna []
To: Palus, Chuck; Horth, David
Subject: Visual Explorer and the Jane Goodall Global Youth Summit

Dear Chuck & David:

I wanted to let you know that I have returned from the Jane Goodall Global Youth Summit and your Visual Explorer activity was amazing! I used the activity at the conclusion of the week long summit as a way for students to share what they had learned about leadership throughout the week. I have attached the PowerPoint presentation that represents all of the images chosen by the students coupled with words about their action projects and their leadership lesson. The session was also filmed and I will be getting this out to you as well.

I was particularly struck by how well this work across cultures. We had youth ages 16-24 from more than 20 countries involved in the activity. Many were from developing countries and English was their second language. The images helped them open up and share powerful lessons and ideas in ways that we had not seen the rest of the week.

I was particularly struck by the variety of images selected and the creative ways in which students expressed their thoughts. One student from Kenya selected an image of a burning house and described the way in which this photo represented the destruction of his country that was taking place right now. Yet beyond the fire, he saw in the image something that represented his hope that he could inspired change when he returned.

Another student from Hong Kong selected the rugby image and discussed the ways in which he felt that he was often beat up, pushed around and discouraged by the lack of progress he was making on environmental issues in Hong Kong. Yet, he said the conference reminded him that we all get beat up at times and we need to have persistence and hope.

Not too many dry eyes in the room after these moments. Thanks so much for being willing to share this incredible resource with our organization. Please let me know how you would like me to post these lessons and information on your blog. Again, video will be forthcoming.


David Shurna
Executive Director
Global Explorers

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June 18, 2009

10,000 images

Here is a re-post from Andrew Webster on the ExperiencePoint blog, about an experiment in the power of images to stick in memory.

Visuals for Learning

There are countless advantages to leveraging visuals to enhance learning. I’ll focus on recall. Check out this discussion about recall percentages with/without visuals. There’s reference here to Lionel Standing’s 10,000 pictures study. The long and short is this:

  • Individuals are shown 10,000 pics in five days (yes, that does sound insane)

  • After seeing all 10k pics, subjects are shown some of these again, but all mixed up with other pics they haven’t seen

  • Subjects are able to recognize which were ones they were already shown with 83% (!) accuracy

  • The more vivid the image, the more likely a subject was to recall it

  • Standing extrapolates that if you see 1M vivid images, then you would remember 98% of them in the near term, and 73% in the long term

Here's the abstract for Lionel Standing's journal article "Learning 10,000 Pictures" published in 1973 in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

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June 05, 2009

Picturing action learning

My good colleague Tom Boydell at Inter~Logics writes:
Hullo Chuck ... It was interesting to hear of your postcard and playing card versions of Visual Explorer. We continue to use the original form extensively - some of the pictures are getting a bit worn; we bought a second set but it was stolen - shows how popular it is!

We use it for exploring almost any concept - not just leadership. Also quite often in an Action Learning setting when we ask people to describe where they have got to in their ongoing projects. As things have worked out we have used it more outside of the UK - especially in Jordan, Syria and Egypt - the latter many times on a large project with the Egyptian Post Office. We have also used it several times on a programme for a Danish multi-national - 15 different nationalities including N and S America, Europe, Asia, and Africa on each occasion.

So from all the above I think you can gather that we have found it to work really well in a wide variety of cultures.

All the best,

Tom Boydell
Director, Inter~Logics

The newsletter of SetMatch in the UK just published this short piece by Tom Boydell on the use of Visual Explorer in action learning programs.

Picture Post

I use this name Picture Post – which reminds me of a long-defunct weekly magazine that I enjoyed reading at school – as a general label for a number of ways of using collections of pictures. You can use calendars, postcards, posters or other reproductions – good excuse to go into art galleries! – although we use a specific set that I will say more about at the end of this piece.

We find that pictures can be used in many ways, including:

• As an introduction exercise; lay out a number of pictures and ask each participant to choose one that says something about them or their problem/challenge. Then ask each to explain to the others why they have chosen that picture (they can choose more than one if you think this would be better)

• As a different type of introduction, as participants to choose and talk about one or more pictures that somehow represent to them eg
o what they are hoping to achieve from the Action Learning programme
o what they think Action Learning involves; how it works
o their team, department, organisation
o perhaps the course they are on (for example if Action Learning is part of a broader programme)

• Make the pictures available as a resource to add to an account of progress on a challenge or problem – say on a flipchart (as in the example at [the top of this post], chosen because we have found that pictures like this can be used in any cultural context)

• Ask participants to select one or more pictures that say something to them about the progress of the Action Learning set or programme. This can be “static” – i.e. as they experience it now – or over a timeline – say the past four or five meetings. Choose different pictures to represent each meeting and then explain how they represent the “biography” or “life” of the group as each member has felt it.

• Choose pictures that represent some of the key stakeholders in your project – how you see them, what you perceive them as feeling or doing, how you relate to them.

• Perhaps not so much in an Action Learning set, but in another context - e.g. a workshop - choose up to say four pictures that represent how you see and feel about the workshop topic (eg leadership; finance; diversity; equal opportunities; engagement; etc etc etc!)

• If there quite a number of participants, they can make individual choices, divide into smaller groups, share their pictures, then as a group select some that they want to represent them as a group. It’s often good to ask them to select at least more than one more picture than there are people in the group – so if say 5 people, ask them to select 6 pictures. This allows for each to have one of their “own” but also forces them to choose a more “collective” one.

And so on. There’s no end really to how they might be used. You do need quite a number of pictures – with groups of up to about 25 we use a set of 224, and two such sets if a bigger group. As I said you can build up your own collection, but we use a set called Visual Explorer, published by the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL ) at .

Action learning in Damascus, Syria (courtesy Tom Boydell)
Tom's books are found on Amazon and everywhere--great stuff, have a look! For example, A Manager's Guide to Leadership:

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