Type of Initiative: Processing tool
Source: Michelle Cummings. This activity was created out of an Internet story that circulated. Origin unknown. Michelle added parts to the activity to add more metaphor to the group application.
Props Needed: Objects shaped as an egg, a carrot, a coffee bean, a rock, and an ice cube. Props could be pictures of each item, the item itself, or stress relievers in the shape of each item.
Group Size: 1–20
Directions: Here is a truly unique tool to help organizations and individuals deal with change.
Set these props out in front of your group and ask them to describe their actions when put in a “hot water” situation. Frontloading the metaphors that accompany each part is important to the level of depth participants will share.
- In “hot water” situations, are you like an egg?
- Do you look the same on the outside but turn hard on the inside?
- How easy is it for you to put your “game face” on when talking to teammates about a decision that, on the inside, you are quite unhappy about?
- If an egg is left in boiling water too long, it will crack or explode.
- What happens to a carrot when placed in boiling water?
- A carrot will turn soft and change itself dramatically as an effect of the hot water. Do you turn to mush and do whatever the “hot water” wants you to do when faced with a change?
- Are you like the coffee bean; do you change the “hot water” situation?
- Do you get energized about new changes or try to influence how the changes get implemented?
- When a rock is placed in a pot of boiling water, it will sink to the bottom and not change. What do you do with the “rocks” in your team—those that refuse to change while the change is happening around them?
- How does this change style encourage conflict within a team?
- How are you like the ice cube? Do you try to diffuse the hot water situation? Are you a small ice cube that attempts to cool things down and then become overwhelmed with the situation and melt back into it? Or are you a large ice cube that really affects the hot water situation and sticks with it to diffuse it.
Oftentimes, individuals will go through each stage in a changing environment. Use the props as a timeline to describe a person’s journey through the change.
- What do you think is your typical change stage when first faced with a new change?
- Does this stage encourage or prevent a conflict with others?
- How do you approach others who have different perspectives and opinions about the change?
- Describe the positive aspects of knowing what change stage each individual is in.
Here is a story that could be a good topic of discussion to use with The Change Debrief.
IN THE TEST KITCHEN OF LIFE
A young woman was complaining to her father about how difficult her life had become. He said nothing but took her to the kitchen and set three pans of water to boiling. To the first pan, he added carrots; to the second, eggs; and to the third, ground coffee. After all three had cooked, he put their contents into separate bowls and asked his daughter to cut into the eggs and carrots and smell the coffee. "What does this all mean?" she asked impatiently.
"Each food," he said, "teaches us something about facing adversity, as represented by the boiling water. The carrot went in hard but came out soft and weak. The eggs went in fragile but came out hardened. The coffee, however, changed the water to something better.”
"Which will you be like as you face life?" he asked. Will you give up, become hard, or transform adversity into triumph? As the ‘chef’ of your own life, what will you bring to the table?”
Where to find it/How to make it: Training Wheels sells a set of stress reliever parts for this activity. There are five parts packaged in a tidy 7 x 9-inch mesh envelope. The stress relievers are all made of polyurethane. Latex free.
You can also source all of these items from your kitchen and back yard. We recommend hard boiling the eggs before you bring them to your group!
Suggestion: If you are trying to encourage everyone to be like the coffee bean and be energized about the new changes, you could send everyone home with a bag of coffee beans encouraging them to be energetic change agents.
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