Visual Explorer™ Special Edition

About Visual Explorer: Special Edition

Visual Explorer™: Special Edition, is a set of 100 Visual Explorer images. These are a great add-on pack to Visual Explorer, and as a stand-alone starter set. The images are vibrant and metaphorical, diverse and global. The digital versions of the images are available with purchase of a printed set. Contact CCL Client Services to purchase and inquire ( Available in Post Card size and Letter size.

Visual Explorer : Special Edition (sample)

Visual Explorer : Special Edition (12 / 100)

These samples are followed by photos from VE SE sessions around the world.

Review the full set of Visual Explorer Special Edition here.

Purchase VE Special Edition:
Post Card size here.
Letter size here.

Now in Coloring Book format.


The Seven Life-Logics in Detail

More wisdom below in this post from our partners Elaine and Bill. This is a companion piece to their prior post on action inquiry. Note that the terms “life logics” and “action logics” are basically interchangable. (more…)

Integrating visual images in coaching action plans

Here is a great article on integrating visual images in coaching action plans from Yaron Prywes and Elisabeth Mah.

Seeing Polaris: A Call to Integrate Visual Images into Coaching
Action PlansYaron Prywes, Elisabeth Mah,<br /> Philosophy of Coaching: An International Journal<br /> Vol. 4, No. 1, May 2019, 34-56.<br />

The link is full paper is here and the abstract is below. Nice work!

Here is a link to our chapter on a related topic.


This paper recommends that coaches consider equipping clients with a visual
image to refer to between sessions. This recommendation is based on the authors’
personal experience as well as research and theory from the fields of education,
persuasion science, and motivational psychology, which suggest that visual images
may help clients learn complex new behaviors and enhance motivation for goal
pursuit. The authors identify the components of an integrative approach (visualtext hybrid) called “Polaris” and present a case study to provide coaches with the
information needed to adopt this tool for their own practice. The paper concludes
with implications for coaching researchers, coaching supervisors and coach

Visual Explorer in Africa: Interview with Steadman Harrison

A closet full of Explorer tools at the CCL office in Addis Ababa.

I interviewed Steadman Harrison, the founder of the CCL office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the story of how Visual Explorer has been used in Africa as a key part of the Leadership Beyond Boundaries initiative.

The full transcript of the interview is here(more…)

Visual Explorer & the Tao

This beautiful message this morning comes to us from our CCL colleague Harvey Chen.
Thank you Harvey!

Hi Chuck and David,

I am pleased to share with you an amazing experience using Visual Explorer. Last week I used Visual Explorer at my college class reunion at the occasion of the 123th anniversary of Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The theme was to share one lesson of experience each person for the years after graduating from college. One classmate by the named of Yongjun Liu, a self-made poet (we were all trained as naval engineers in college), picked the rice-planting VE card to represent his Zen-polarity insight, and made the connection between his insight, the VE card, and a classic Chinese poem written by a Monk Qici of Liang Dynasty over 1,000 years ago. That was a powerful and artistic sharing. What a perfect match between the VE card and the poem!

I attach the card image, the poem in Chinese and my translation in the attached file for your information.

Best regards,


Harvey Chen, PhD  陈朝晖
Chairman of the Board of Advisors
Center for Creative Leadership Greater China CCL 创新领导力中心(大中华区)

Digital Engagement & Reverse Mentoring at the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program

The Center for Creative Leadership built a new digital experience for this year’s Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program, piloting a new digital tool, twice.

This progressive web app,, turned a tried and true CCL physical tool into a digital tool. Instead of having participants experience Visual Explorer in the traditional way, where a card is selected to help participants express what effective leadership means to them, students and coaches used the new app instead. Once a digital photo was selected, participants typed thoughts about what they saw in their picture and how their image spoke to them about effective leadership.

Read the full post here, at the Golden LEAF Scholars Leadership Program.

More on Visual Explorer: Special Edition here.



Origins and history of Visual Explorer

Here is the recording and transcript of our webinar on the origins and history of Visual Explorer! Somewhere in the world, right now, there is a Visual Explorer session … 

Visual Explorer: How we got here from Labs@CCL on Vimeo.

Visual Explorer in Africa

We are working on a chapter and a story for The Change Handbook, 3rd Edition on the topic of Visual Explorer as a tool for change, and its role and impacts in Africa. Below is an excerpt. Look for the book this fall!


Visual Explorer is a way to enhance the depth and power of conversations using a set of diverse and interesting photographic images. (more…)

A visioning exercise

This wonderful exercise is offered to us by our colleague TZiPi Radonsky.

TZiPi is a traveling rabbi-teacher and woman of the world, coach, writer, artist, and our associate at the Center for Creative Leadership. (more…)

Visual Explorer in Jaffa, Israel

From Steadman Harrison III:

I love it when Visual Explorer looks really unique and powerful in special settings. The first program we ever delivered in Israel our host rented a museum. On the top of a building in Jaffa, the little town that’s just south of Tel Aviv, we decorated the upper floor, which was open, and you could look out at the Mediterranean. It had, on exhibit, all kinds of sculpture and artwork. We laid out all of the different sizes of Visual Explorer — pocket-sized card decks, postcard-sized decks, and 8 1/2 by 11 decks. We just collaged those all over the rooftop of this building. You can imagine the sunlight and the Mediterranean air and all this artwork and sculpture around, and the images themselves just sort of came alive in that environment.”

Put Something in the Middle of Difficult Conversations

Jan Jaffe and her colleagues at the Giving Practice have an excellent new DIY guide for Philanthropy’s Reflective Practices. Download it for free here. A short introduction on the Guide, and reflective practice for philanthropy is here.

How do skilled philanthropy practitioners navigate challenging situations in their work to get to meaningful connections and good outcomes? Interviews with dozens of them reveal a common ingredient: they each use reflective practices to help them observe, make sense of and adjust their behaviors. Our new guide focuses on four of these practices.

We especially appreciate the section on Letting the Right Brain In, and the sage advice to put something in the middle of difficult conversations:

Sometimes words need an aide-de-camp to catalyze authentic dialogue. Images, metaphors, stories and poems can encourage a different kind of sensemaking for moments freighted with history, unspoken expectations, or lack of clarity. If a dialogue between you and me is stuck, then talking through a third object, like a poem or image, may help deepen the conversation.

Download the full PDF here.

Polarity Thinking and Visual Explorer

This note comes to us from Peter Dupree of Polarity Partnerships. Thanks Peter!

This is from Doha, Qatar, using a Polarity Map with Visual Explorer on Continuity & Transformation. Excellent “sense making” with multi-cultural group!

I have done something similar with the polarity of Horizontal Development & Vertical Development. Once they get out on a map and relate to it kinesthetically, I have them explore images that speak to them, choosing an image for each pole, and talking about it. This brings them through a pre-cognitive doorway, and ‘readiness’ is less of an issue.

Our second most important asset at CCL Ethiopia

Leadership Explorer tools at our office in Ethiopia.

A heartwarming note below from Aaron White, one of the founders of our office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Aaron calls the Leadership Explorer tools “our second most important asset at CCL Ethiopia.” (See the photo at the bottom for the first!) Thanks Aaron!

I spent the day at CCL Ethiopia’s new office here in Addis Ababa. As I explored our new digs I found three new storage cabinets packed with Explorer tools. Some had square corners, some rounded, but all had been in the hands of dozens, if not hundreds of people.

These Explorer tools get used in every single program here. If we didn’t have these – and our Leadership Essentials – we really couldn’t have been successful here.

Thanks to all of you that brought these in your suitcases, stole them from supply closets, and helped create them!

Aaron White
24 November 2017

Our most important assets are our participants and our faculty! More on the Leadership and Debate Club Program here.

Leadership and Debate Club participants and some CCL Addis Faculty. Photo by Rahel Asefa.

Visual Explorer Special Edition: Coloring Book

Why a coloring book?

This format encourages individuals to slow down, reflect, and actively interpret what they see in the lines and spaces that make up the rendering. The coloring book is a tool for mindfulness, relaxation, creativity, self-reflection, and mediated dialogue.

The images in this adult coloring book are a selection from the Visual Explorer™ SE (Special Edition) collection.

Purchase VE SE Coloring Book here.

Introduction and tutorial webinar and slides for VE SE Coloring Book are below:

Streaming recording link
Download recording link

Applications (more…)

Sustainable Outcomes for Youth (VIDEO)

Sustainable Outcomes for Youth, in partnership with CRS Uganda funded by USAID.

Check out this introductory video on Sustainable Outcomes for Youth, a project recently launched by CCL in partnership with CRS Uganda funded by USAID.  Yonas Tegene (CCL Human Resources Director) is our wonderful host. Notice the use of novel tools including Visual Explorer. This comes to us from our CCL colleague in Addis Ababa, Birikti Haile. Thanks Birikti! (more…)

Visual Explorer Special Edition: Coloring Book Introductory Webinar (VIDEO)

Webex session links and slides are below:

Streaming recording link
Download recording link

Leading From Within

Thanks to my CCL colleague Bert DeCoutere (IP and Innovation Lead at Center for Creative Leadership) for this description of his new experiential design for Leading From Within.

We worked with the central question: How can I continuously evolve into the leader the future needs me to be?

Leading From Within

The flow of the experience is to use what we have inside us to transform into what the future needs us to be.

We used Visual Explorer to discuss “me as a leader now” and “me as a leader in the future.” We explored four roots of our leadership: personality (Work Place Big 5), experience (Experience Explorer), values (Values Explorer) and identity (social identity mapping). Then we concluded the poster with our transformation journey ‘”from here to there” – using cards from the Transformations deck.

Transitioning to the Third Act

Check out the great work of Nick Owen and Edward Kelly in the Third Act Conferences and Retreats!

owenFriday January 20th (1800) – Sunday January 22nd (1530), 2017

The Third Act Retreat: Transitioning to the Third Act
Facilitators: Dr Edward Kelly, Nick Owen & Annette Hennessy
The Abbey, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire

A weekend working with our own stories of transition, our stages of development, and the ancient insights of The Elder Tales in our journey to What’s Next for us? A residential weekend of craic and inquiry in a delightful rural setting.

Single: £495; Shared: £445 per person; Non-residential: £395 (including lunches & dinners)

To reserve your place contact or



Leading sustained cooperation in fragile environments

A group of over gcsp-ccl35 diplomats, peacemakers, and leadership researchers gathered last week in Geneva, hosted by the GCSP-CCL Alliance and sponsored by NATO. Learn more about this fabulous meeting here. Our topic was leadership development and how to improve it for leading sustained cooperation in fragile environments. (more…)

Research methods and theories related to Visual Explorer

Our chapter in The SAGE Handbook of Action Research talks about the theory and research underlying Visual Explorer.

The main idea is that VE is a projective technique for assessment, evaluation, ethnography, and dialogue. Projective techniques have an honorable history via tools such as TAT, and Rorschach, going back to the work of Carl Jung. (more…)

Mediated Dialogue in Action Research

Here is an extended excerpt from our chapter: Mediated dialogue in action research, in The SAGE Handbook of Action Research, 3rd Edition, edited by Hilary Bradbury. To see the full chapter and lots of other wonderful chapters, get the Handbook!

The SAGE Handbook of Action Research, 3rd Ed., Hilary Bradbury, Editor

The SAGE Handbook of Action Research, 3rd Ed.,
Hilary Bradbury, Editor

Palus, C. J., & McGuire, J.B. (2015). Mediated dialogue in action research. In H. Bradbury (Ed.) The SAGE handbook of action research, 3rd Edition. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications. 691-699. Click here for the complete Handbook.

Here is our “how-to” white paper connecting this chapter to change leadership.

Mediated dialogue is an approach to reflective, insightful conversation that is useful for action research and related endeavors, including inquiry as a part of leadership development. With mediated dialogue, various media (typically visual images, such as those in Visual Explorer™) are used as sources of metaphor and as places to project thoughts and emotions related to one or more focal questions. (more…)

Assessing Leadership at the Grassroots Level | Leadership Beyond Boundaries

LBB moon

Visual Explorer: Special Edition

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.
Samantha 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 …


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

innovation mgmt

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.”