Sinking Ship

The guy on the right drew this map.  He is bailing out the boat that is sinking.  He is doing his job in spite of a bad situation.  I asked, “Who is the guy on the left?”  He said “That’s my boss.”  A few heads turned toward his boss sitting up front.  I asked “So what is he doing?” He answered, “He’s pissing in the boat and not doing much else.”  There were guffaws from his cronies and the rest of us couldn’t resist smiling.  It’s funny.  The manager just shook his head probably thinking “is it that bad?”  Then one of his buddies asked, “So why are you smiling then?”  He whipped his head around and was shocked to see the smile.  This was a union management meeting and so far nothing had gone well.  In that split moment, he saw himself and maybe the others did too.  I mentioned it much later: “Is it possible that the fight, leading the cause, being the union representative is fun for you?  Would you have as good a time if we solved all these problems?”  When the thirty people present got the opportunity to speak for themselves it turned about 27 of them liked their jobs and just wanted to get back to doing their jobs.  Only the three union reps were angry and unhappy.  Often groups that seem to be at an impasse are simply being held hostage by a few malcontents.

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1 thought on “Sinking Ship”

  1. Its a very nice story. Thanks!

    I have used similar methods. I agree that everyone can draw and it pays to get them into this different medium of expression. I have used collage too, with great success. I get people making collage using magazines as material and give then 10 minutes to respond collecively in small groups (3 to a sheet of flip chart paper) to a question, usually about ‘how do feel about …’. In ten minutes we hold an exhibition and look at and listen to the ‘artist’s’ interpretations. Like you say, issues come out into the open, usually with lots of humour. It is a great way to start a session as it breaks the ice and makes the real issues visible in a non-threateneing way. It is half an hour or so very well spent

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