Fox Games

Fox Games © 1989 Sandy Skoglund

Please Note: "Fox Games": This work has been published with the permission of the artist and copyright holder Sandy Skoglund. 

I was really delighted when Sandy Skoglund gave me permission to use a copy of 'Fox Games' on Photo-Dialogue.  

I'm always keen to feel my way into a New Year with a reflection on how things are changing for me, whether as a consultant, photographer or academic and towards the end of last year it felt like some seismic shifts were in play as I defined how I intend to work with Photo-Dialogue in 2012.  So, perhaps that's why it felt important to get back to 'Fox Games'.

Back in 2003, I worked with Ashridge colleague and author John Higgins as he guided me through a visual exercise using postcards that we had purchased from the shop at the Tate Modern.  As we spread the cards on the floor of the gallery, John asked me to describe my practice as a coach and consultant through the images.

'Fox Games' was particularly significant for me - I felt it showed how I saw organisations: grey, dull places where commerce took place but where the red foxes of emotion and feeling ran wild while remaining apparently unseen and ignored. The image told me of things that I intuitively knew but had, at that time, been unable (or unwilling) to clearly articulate.  In fact, as the product of a good deal of 'formal management training' and an MBA graduate, perhaps I had been 'educated' out of taking my own experience seriously.

Following my epiphanic moment in the Tate Modern, 'Fox Games' became the cornerstone of my Master's dissertation and then continued to set the tone and agenda throughout my PhD.  It has been a remarkable and significant image for me and continues to both provoke and inform.  Now, as I use imagery of various kinds to help articulate some of the unseen dynamics within organisations or to provide the basis for coaching inerventions, the Fox Games postcard travels with me to remind me of where my personal journey into imagery and vision began.

So, you might like to attempt your own piece of art-shop photo-dialogue.

Here is a simple process:

  • Immerse yourself in a problem, issue or dilemma.
  • Take some time out, relax, grab a coffee and visit your local art gallery.
  • Buy a few art cards, 8-10 will do. Buy anything that engages you - act intuitively - don't overthink your purchase.
  • Lay out the cards in a pattern that resonates - again - don't overthink the process.
  • Take a few minutes - what are the images telling you about you, your approach, how you are seeing the issue, what is the 'story' you are telling yourself?
  • What other perspectives become available to you? What insights do the cards offer?
  • Take a photo of your collection and the layout - on your phone will do.
  • Show the images to a friend (set them up as in your previous layout)
  • What do they see?  What do the images and the layout mean to them?
  • Take a longer break - a few days or so - then review the images and layout again. What is significant to you now?

Good luck! Have some fun and enjoy yourself.  And be careful, an image might emerge that begins to set an amazing, compelling vision for your life and career...!

Let me know how you get on!