In the 1964 book Flat Stanley (by Jeff Brown), a bulletin board falls on Stanley while he is sleeping, and temporarily flattens him. This allows him to be mailed  — which became the inspiration for the Flat Stanley Project. Canadian schoolteacher Dale Hubert had the great idea for children to make a construction paper figure and mail it to far-flung friends and relatives, who posed “Stanley” in photos from all around the globe, and then mailed Stanley back to the student to learn geography. Recently, many organizations have used the idea in conjunction with social media to spur sharing with their own version of Stanley in a photo.

You can create your own adaptation of this exercise, only use it to illustrate concepts a bit more germane to your organization. Have teams make a paper character and appropriately name it for your group, then send them out with a list of photos to procure featuring their character.  (You can limit them to your office, or allow them expanded time/distance/latitude for the assignment.)

Suggestions include:
> Two teams collaborating
> A place where learning is happening
> The mission coming to life
> Innovation in the making
> Someone providing stellar service
> An area that needs improvement
> Something that makes you proud
> Money well spent
> A strength
> Something that helps the bottom line
> With a person everyone should know
> An opportunity

Then have the teams share the photos with the whole group, as a way not only to reinforce their learning, but to expose the others to new ways of seeing the organization. You flat out can’t beat it for a team exercise.

Example of a flat character
Example of a flat character
Someone helping students (financial aid)
Pix of “Someone helping students” (financial aid)

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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