Supporting Group Work with Image-Based Activities

May 2022 Event Review: Supporting Group Work with Image-Based Activities

For our May event, ODA member Heidi Vestergaard facilitated an experiential and insightful session on how OD practitioners can use image-based activities in group work. 


The experiential element of the event began with the participants in citizen mode. Heidi used the social photo matrix to guide us through an activity which focused on the question, “What makes the Domestic Animal Rescue Industry tick?” Heidi began this process by eliciting our responses to a series of images that had been submitted by the group, each of which showed a domestic animal. We then shared our individual insights that came from these responses. I was struck by how the use of images allowed for an openness of conversation, in which there was no wrong or right response. Heidi collated our responses and, in a real-world situation, these would contribute to research data. 


We then switched to OD practitioner mode to discuss our reflections on the value of the social photo matrix and other image-based approaches in OD work. Some of the key insights were that social that image-based approaches: 

  • Allow for amalgamation of perspectives from free association  
  • Use individual participant’s metaphors to group sense making  
  • Support people to speak up without being judged 


Participants shared how they had used image-based approaches in their own practice: 

  • Elicit responses to a topic  
  • Allow people to share what a story means to them in a context 
  • Elicit conversation about difference and bias as people see things differently 
  • Invite people to bring images that represented their own story 


The experience of spending time in both citizen and practitioner mode was really valuable in considering image-based activities. In her wrap-up, Heidi thanked us for ‘playing along’ in her activity. For me, this highlighted the creativity that the use of images brought to a serious topic. And I really loved looking at pictures of the gorgeous domestic animals of which we are custodians! 


Danielle Jacobson