This is a two-part post. The second part is linked at the bottom of this post.
The Blob Tree – really? Is this kindergarten time? This is what I thought when my wife showed me the Blob Tree and briefly explained to me what it was. Initially I did not pay much attention to it and thought there was no way I could use this in a staff development meeting of mature and experienced professionals. I thought I would be laughed out of the room. Don’t you agree?
However, presenting the Blob Tree was an inspiring tool and it surprisingly was incredibly useful too.
Let me share a little with you on how I successfully used the Blob Tree and give you some ideas (I Power Seeds) and maybe it will echo with your team.
My presentation started with setting up the room. I put out cheap pairs of glasses (like from the dollar store) on every table. I did this as having a visual aide and a tangible stimulus to remind them to reflect on what they learned and continue to foster the growth around the meanings of the Blob Tree.
The first part of my strategy I have been coaching my staff on the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (by Patrick Lencioni), focusing on the team itself and how we function and interact as a team. Then the second part of my strategy was to focus and work on the individuals. I took notes and insights from many sources such as The Leadership Challenge, The Truth About Employee Engagement, and The Ideal Team Player, numerous articles, and my own experiences. I then incorporated some of the main points gleamed from these sources and offered a high-level presentation of these ideas and frameworks to my staff as well as accompanied it with a couple of exercises that helped solidify the ideas and meanings.
I will be honest, it was not easy (to say the least). But once the barriers were lowered a little and everyone went around the room and shared where they were on the Blob Tree at that moment, it turned out everyone had fun and felt they could share (key concept – to be vulnerable). Of course a couple said things like, “You know which one is me!” or “I don’t talk about my feelings!” But that was ok as others laughed and recognized others’ vulnerability state and they in turn openly expressed how they felt and how the Blob they chose represented them at that moment, which was the goal of the exercise. Progress and results were achieved.
Here is a PowerPoint with the general ideas of what I did. Feel free to review it and I hope it sparks ideas for your own presentation with your team.
Here some of the notable meanings around the Blob Tree. And of course you will discover your own.
- Each picture is a means to a conversation, rather than a problem to be solved or a message to be agreed upon.
- We each see the world through our own eyes. Allowing others to share their feelings enables group members to understand and appreciate one another.
- When we are children our feelings say one thing, sometimes more purely than when we are adults. Schools encourage children to understand their feelings and to master them.
- The tree is a place, a group, or an organization – such as your family, a club, a group of friends, a church, or even yourself.
- There is a platform and a rope to swing on. What do they symbolize? They might represent safety, leadership, separation, for or wastefulness? It depends upon how you feel as you look at them, and how you feel that day.
- It is important that we name them Blobs – they are not any color, race, gender, etc. This ensures it includes everyone.
- The grass – a place where you might go after climbing out of the tree. A place of respite. It can also be a place of opposition to what is going on in the tree. Such as saying, “I want to be on the grass and out of the tree.” This gives us clues as to how people are feeling at that moment in time.
The Blob Tree is a useful and fun tool to assist your staff in becoming trusting (being vulnerable) in a fun and light-hearted manner. Sometimes we need tools like this that make us laugh and which brings out the best in us in our quest to strive for higher achievement and better results.
Good luck and please leave comments and feedback.