Visual Explorer™

About Visual Explorer

Young women from the Mariam high school in Kabul select their Visual Explorer cards.

Visual Explorer™ is a tool for creative conversations and deep dialogue—using a wide variety of images—about almost any topic chosen by the user. See this useful review in Innovation Management.

PurchaseVisual Explorer


Assessing Leadership at the Grassroots Level | Leadership Beyond Boundaries

Our CCL team in Ethiopia develops leadership at all levels of society including with grassroots and community organizations. Monitoring and assessment are key to this work, and the team has invented and adapted a variety of useful methods.
LBB moonSamantha Adelberg just published a three-part series of posts on this topic that I highly recommend. The first one covers the use of Visual Explorer as an interactive tool for assessing leadership challenges and capabilities. (Here is an older post that describes a similar application of VE in Afghanistan.)

An excerpt …


Visual Explorer: Purpose and Possibility (VIDEO)

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quoteThe video clip shows the Visual Explorer process we use. This provides the delegates an effective and easy-to-use tool to explore the concept of Purpose and Leadership Possibility. It enables people to make deep connections to big issues, even if they have had little exposure to this type of thinking before.

Thanks to RedZebra for this video of VE in action!




Transforming Ethiopia’s agricultural sector

Our CCL campus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is focused on democratizing leadership development for all parts of society. Their post below links to inspiring stories of societal impact. Notice the use of Visual Explorer, a tool that has proven useful for engaging people across different languages and cultures.

Visioning with Visual Explorer: Empowering Women Leaders to Lead Change in Myanmar

Reposted from Leadership Beyond Boundaries

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Imagine you have a group of strong, committed, bright women excited by their country’s emergence from 60 long years of a military regime; add in a big measure of self-clarity and another of agency and one more of coaching & mentoring, and set them in a network of encouragement and support.  Do you get national transformation?  (more…)

Amplifying Voices: An initiative of CCL Ethiopia (VIDEO)

Addis girls programThis short 2 minute video showcases the powerful impact that happens when you invest in young women. With the support of the British Embassy of Ethiopia, The Center for Creative Leadership, through its Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative, is running a long term program to amplify the voices and to increase agency of female freshmen and sophomore university students across the city of Addis Ababa.

More here.

Review: “Well-designed Visual Explorer tool enables creative dialogue and collaboration”

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Here’s a review of Visual Explorer, from Innovation Management:


Conclusion [full article here]

I like the Visual Explorer. The cards are of high quality, which means they should be durable tools that you and your team can use to open dialogue and explore new ideas. I like the fact that it isn’t just another card deck that helps you to generate ideas; rather, its primary focus is on facilitating discussion between people, building bridges between differing opinions and yes, even developing new ideas. And, as you may have gathered, I’m a big fan of the level of thinking, organization and presentation that went into the facilitator’s guide. A tool is only as good as the instructions that teach people how to use it. The Visual Explorer’s facilitator’s guide is first class all the way.

If you and your team are facing some difficult issues, or need to develop consensus on your organization’s future direction, or if you simply want to improve team communication and collaboration, then you may want to consider investing in this high quality toolset.”

CCL Collaborates with the European Center for Electoral Support

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Good news from Barcelona (below) from the European Center for Electoral Support (full story here, and here for the 2012 edition). The ECES has the strategy of supporting “dialogue and mediation for the consensual and inclusive management of political transition and the prevention and mitigation of electoral and political conflict.”


The 2013 edition of the Dealing with Electoral Violence: Leadership and Conflict Management Skills for Electoral Stakeholders took place in Barcelon on 14-18 Octber 2013.

The overall objective of this 2013 edition of the LEAD Training has been to look into ways in which representatives of electoral stakeholders can improve their leadership skills and take on board means for preventing and/or mitigating the escalation of election-related violence and conflict throughout the respective electoral cycles.

The LEAD training is jointly organized with the Center for Creative Leadership: Leadership Beyond Boundaries and the Barcelona International Peace Resource Center. (more here.)

(They post these and other cool photos of the 2012 and 2013 events including use of Visual Explorer, Values Explorer, and Collaboration Explorer, and other CCL Leadership Essentials Tools.)


A different kind of conversation

Here’s a story from Jon: a successful conversation, with his son, on a topic difficult for both of them.

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I was having some challenges with one of my sons one time and his finances weren’t in order.  I was so bothered by this. I knew I didn’t want to turn him off completely but I had to get some breakthrough. I had just learned about Visual Explorer at a seminar.  And so I took the cards to dinner with the two of us, not even knowing how to use them, and I said something to the effect of, ‘Michael, talk to me about your finances’ and I said, ‘Pick a picture that helps depict what’s going on.’ And it was a barn burning. From there he told me a whole story about how he felt out of control and his whole world of finances was burning. And so the VE deck provided a great enty into getting behind what was the issue.”

Leadership Beyond Boundaries and mediated dialogue

Leadership Explorer tools, and especially Visual Explorer, have been key to our Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative, where they work by putting something in the middle of a creative conversation (mediated dialogue):

quoteImagine our world if we worked to create better leadership. Might we have fewer wars, would there be less hunger and disease, would more people recognize their talents and realize their potential, would we solve problems more creatively and effectively, and would we embrace and leverage the diversity that defines humankind? >> read more about Leadership Beyond Boundaries