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Friday, 25 November 2016

How could pipe cleaners have the answer?

During a recent half day Procurement Innovation and Creativity clinic via webex, to a group of three people over in Atlanta, someone mentioned they'd attended a workshop where they'd used pipe cleaners to introduce themselves.

As anyone who knows me well will understand it wasn't long before I had 500 multicoloured pipe cleaners on the way to me, with a desire to find a means of using them at the next workshop.

Whilst I love unconventional tools, I will only use them if I think they align with the intention and goals of the workshop, and support the learning outcomes. Which meant I hadn't quite got my head around how I'd use them on the supplier management workshop this week in Warsaw.

However the delegates were keen to understand different ways of resolving problems with suppliers and so I found myself uttering the words "let's try the pipe cleaners". 

I then asked them to use the pipe cleaners to represent the current unsatisfactory situation they wanted some insight on, and then to do one for the best possible outcome. 

One result looked like this:
Which became this:

Or this: 
Became this:

or the bottom structure became the top for both of these examples


I could continue - but assume you get the idea.

I then asked them in turn to describe the difference between the two sculptures - these are the notes I made at the time:

The words used to describe the 2 sculptures certainly seemed to contain the kernel of an idea within them. Ideas that, whilst perhaps not revolutionary, had hidden close to the surface of their owners subconscious only able to be expressed via the sculptures that had been developed.

We discussed the potential solutions that were emerging as a result. What I then asked the delegates to do was identify actions they could take as a result of the guidance provided by these sculptures - or even sculptures others had developed.

One insight for me was about our ineffective use of the words 'needing to improve communication'.

Unconventional tools certainly have their place when the solution is eluding you, and they can certainly speed up the process to achieving resolution.

If you're struggling with a problem what tool can you use to bring forth the very solution that's thus far hidden from you?

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Inspiring Change - inside and out 

Some of the other unconventional, yet effective, tools I use in workshops and coaching include: 
Follow hypertext links to previous blogs on the subject highlighted.

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