Couravel's Big Conversation @mikepounsford

A Big Conversation Q&A – aligning leaders using pictures

What’s the next best to attending an event? Seeing the effect of it afterwards and being able to ask questions.

Case in point: I recently missed the prototype of an exciting new facilitation format. Pioneered by long-standing collaborator Mike Pounsford, a Certified Professional Facilitator. The aim was to help leaders align around a shared challenge. 

To make up for it – we caught up over a coffee. Here’s the Q&A:

Q: You brought 15 leaders together to solve a complex issue – using a fresh approach – what was it?

A: We developed a visual narrative and added some killer questions. This enabled us to explore how our organisations need to respond to the changes. Challenges coming at us as a result of disruptive technologies and digital transformation. We literally created a Big Picture! We could then use it as a platform for engaging, open and challenging conversations. Deliberate dialogue about what the future holds for us as individuals – and for our businesses.

Q: Alignment using pictures – interesting! Can you sketch out how this idea came about?

A: We have known for years – since our time in the caves – of the power of pictures and their role in illustrating great stories. Our brains process visual information at a much faster rate than the written word, and stories activate more parts of our brain.

Storytelling is often seen as a communication tool to be used by leaders to influence an audience. But some of the most powerful applications of strategic storytelling involve groups of people from all levels and disciplines. How? By sharing their stories and linking these to a higher strategic narrative. Global organisations such as the charity Oxfam; New Look – the fashion retailer; TUI – the travel company; GSK – the pharmaceutical giant and BAE Systems – the defence and engineering business – have all developed meaning and purpose for their people by encouraging people to tell their stories to each other.

Q: How did the leaders respond?

A: The feedback was fantastic. And so was the learning because we recognised the potential to help each of these leaders to engage with their colleagues and peers. The issue is often not working out what to do but working out how to build and sustain momentum to make the changes. That is the secret of this approach. Watch the video to the end!

Nice work. Here’s a brief video setting out the flow:

You can learn more about Mike’s work at, follow him @mikepounsford and connect with him on LinkedIn.


2017 03 #Eurocomm17 Reviewing The Past to Prepare for the Future

Top tweets from Adapt • Invent • Evolve: Reviewing the Past to Prepare for the Future @ #Eurocomm17






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#ETF20 – Celebrating 20 years with the European Training Foundation

ETF logoMartin Gilbraith and I are off to Torino this week to help one of the European Commission’s agencies look back at the twenty years since their founding in 1994.

The world has changed considerably since then so it is safe to say that we’re looking forward to learning more about the journey the team has taken – and how we can help them structure insights from this time so they are useful for the next 20.

Expect plenty of pictures and perhaps even a timelapse – you can follow and join the action via #ETF20.

A bit about ETF in their own words: ‘The European Training Foundation is an EU agency that helps transition and developing countries to harness the potential of their human capital through the reform of education, training and labour market systems in the context of the EU’s external relations policy.’

Here’s a brief outline of what we’re setting out to do:

  • Celebration of 20 years of achievement
  • Renewed understanding of the journey covered and the path ahead
  • Practical outputs that draw on the storytelling work already completed, contributing to the strategic outcomes planned for the overall 20 year celebrations
  • A fun, engaging, high-energy day with a range of mediums to fit individual styles – and a competitive element to help drive the day – and people bond.

The ETF team have also thrown in an artistic element through their partnership with a local art school – that’ll be an interesting new experience which we look forward to reporting back on. They’ve kindly allowed us to share this brief Prezi from the kick-off day setting out a bit more detail:
[gigya src=”” allowfullscreen=”true” allowscriptaccess=”always” width=”550″ height=”400″ bgcolor=”#ffffff” flashvars=”prezi_id=dujmpxbj563y&lock_to_path=1&color=ffffff&autoplay=no&autohide_ctrls=0″ ]

In future posts we’ll explore practical outputs from the day that lead to a useful outcome: team alignment. If you’d like us to help you with this, get in touch.

Michael Ambjorn is founder of // Align Your Org and Martin Gilbraith is Master Facilitator – follow @michaelambjorn and @martingilbraith for more of the above. You can also join the conversation: #ALIGN and of course @alignyourorg.