What’s not to like in a superhero? They can do all kinds of things us mortals can’t; fix things, save the world, turn back time, fly, turn invisible, read people’s minds….the list of possibilities is pretty endless.

They can be quite good for encouraging great conversations too.

WHY might you want to think about superheroes?

Well. There are so many ways of opening up discussions and shaping them, moving them forward and enabling people to contribute and work together. These discussions may be about generating ideas, solving problems, reviewing or reflecting on work you have done, or creating new plans. Sometimes this is easy and everyone dives straight into the conversation, it flows well and you get what you need.

And sometimes you need a little extra something, particularly if there is any sense of demotivation or a lack of enthusiasm to work together. Adding some creative context, asking your team members to think in a slightly different way might give you some fresh ideas and a different perspectives. You are taking away some of the boundaries to reality, bringing in something impossible to make something possible, asking people to take a bit of a step back and think a bit more broadly. It may also just simply be fun!

So let’s think about some activities that you can try with your team.

1) What would your super power be?

You have probably had one of those conversations about what super powers you would like to have. What is your favourite? I think I’d like to either be able to breathe underwater, or perhaps fly!

This kind of question is good to encourage participants in a group to think broadly and creatively, use their imagination a bit and think further than their current reality. And is a nice fun warm up to start a session with, but you can also make it into something more:

  • Ask your team members to list all the superheroes they can think of. Then think about the types of powers that they all have. You can simply ask people to share ideas one after the other, or you can ask them to type them in the chat box, on a digital whiteboard or write on a post it or flipchart paper.
  • Turn the question to the participants themselves, and give some context (let’s say you are thinking about the workplace) – what superpower would you like to have and why? If you want to make it bigger activity, split people into groups and use something like Google Jamboard and ask participants to add pictures or draw.
  • What would you like to do most with your superpower?

Imagine if [insert superhero of your choice] had been there

A different activity you can use with a superhero theme is using superheroes to look back and consider how things could have been better? Instead of the Titanic sinking, what about if Ironman had come along and saved the day? How might the outcome have been different?

  • Ask your team members to think about a project or piece of work you are focusing on.
  • Ask them to recall what went well.
  • Then ask people what didn’t go so well.
  • Consider how things might have been different if there had been a superhero to assist:
    • Which superheroes could they have brought in? These don’t have to be “real” superheroes (it might be hard to imagine Spiderman sorting out your communication issues by flying from wall to wall). They can be the superheroes that you might need for your team, your own versions.
    • How might things have been different if these superheroes had been there.
  • Then….what is the closest thing to reality that you could’ve done to make this actually happen?
  • What could you do differently next time?

Perspectives – what kinds of ideas would [insert super hero of your choice] come up with?

This is another way of brainstorming ideas, but from a different perspective. Using someone else’s skills, or abilities (even if they aren’t real!) to help you to think about something a bit differently. With a superhero there are no limits.

  • Ask your team to agree on a superhero, someone that they would like to invite in to help them think of fresh ideas. Maybe it is a composite – a superhero made up by the team (which actually is a whole other activity you could do!).
  • Then ask them to think about the kinds of ideas that your superhero might suggest. Some of these ideas may be totally off the wall, some less so. But it’s all about opening up people the possibility of new ideas.
  • See if any of them look like you could use them, is there anything that is close to what the superhero was thinking?

You know your team, would these activities work with them?

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