Recently I have facilitated  three creative workshops, 2 which were focused on creative problem solving and one which was a process of personal development. The common denominator in each was not just that they were creative but that I used drawing, images and collage as tools in the process. The results underline the value in using image based work in problem solving and change.

In a Creative problem solving session it was the drawing of  the problem which caused the shift in seeing the problem from a different perspective and identified the complexity of the problem. Had this not happened then the problem would have found a simple solution which would not have resolved it.

We have a tendency when faced with a problem to seek a solution without really exploring the nature of the problem. We often fail to ask if we have identified the right problem or all elements of the problem. When this happens the result is often a solution that does not work. The original problem reasserts itself. By exploring the nature of the problem using images rather than words we bring all elements of our thinking into play. We may start off rationally and logically, however drawing relaxes the logical rational censor and we soon start to explore more widely using our intuition.

In the third workshop I used collage as a starting point for participants to reflect on where they wanted to be in the future. The way I use collage is to provide a random selection of pictures and images from which people select those that resonate in terms of the question being asked. In this case it was about a future state. It can work as well with establishing values of teams or team vision amongst others. This technique invariably leads to some relaxing of the conscious; it takes us back into a more playful mode and starts to release our creativity. It is less stressful than drawing which is another reason for using it in creative workshops.

Using images and drawing as creative tools takes us out of our normal established way of working with words and in doing so creates conditions for our intuition to come into play. We  capture intuitive reactions that cannot yet be put into words and which are not yet consciously realised. These can be thoughts, emotions, values which have often not been expressed consciously. These add a richness to our exploration and can surprise us with their result.

Barbara is an executive coach, change and creativity facilitator. She offers facilitated workshops in creative problem solving as well as change through creative techniques. She has co-authored a book on Creativity with Tracy Stanley, Creativity Cycling.