Images can help you break through a problem-solving block.
Images affect us in different ways than words. Think of dreams, works of art, photography .… And of course, Tarot cards. They evoke and stimulate viscerally, not intellectually or analytically.
Many creativity techniques use random elements to stimulate ideas. These random elements can be words, objects, ideas, analogies, metaphors, or images. Random elements are not part of the problem; they work because they:
give a new—and unexpected—lens through which to look for a solution,
steer your thoughts in a different direction,
require you to take a step back to look at the problem from a different angle, and
make it easier for you to recognize assumptions and self-imposed constraints.
A Tarot deck presents a variety of ambiguous and evocative images. The human mind does not like ambiguity, so we immediately—and usually unconsciously—give the image a context: “The picture shows ….”
This quality of the cards stirs the imagination even more than a random word or object.
How does it work?
How do you apply an image to a problem?
First off, choose a Tarot deck with “story” pictures on all the cards (as opposed to those showing suit symbols on the minor arcana), or use only the Trump cards (major arcana cards).
Now imagine that the image contains solutions to your problem: all you have to do is find them. Sounds easy, huh?
Here’s an example:
Problem: Employees are upset about the small increases they received. How do I handle this?
Plant’sPlace's Alchemical Tarot: Renewed.
Card drawn: Six of Staffs (Wands)
What is going on? How does the image relate to the problem? What solutions are hidden in this picture?
What I see
Five torches are thrust towards a man in a threatening way. Both the torches and people holding them seem larger than the man on the cloud and his torch. The man on the cloud is wearing an apron and a laurel wreath, suggesting he is not only an artisan, but master artisan in his field.
What the image suggests to me:
Because of my position (the 'master' or employer), I hold the power. The employees are angry, however, and with reason. I cannot afford the raises they want, so what else can I do? I see several possibilities:
- The 'master' is talking to the torch-bearers. I could ‘descend from the cloud’ and tell them what is going on. An honest explanation might decrease the anger.
- I could offer a variety of non-monetary rewards for excellent work, such as public recognition (in the company newsletter, on bulletin boards), a gift, a certificate, a day off.
- Organize a 'fun’ day or event to award innovative employees.
- I could ask the employees to come up with ideas with for cost-cutting; after all, they know their jobs better than I do.
- I could reward cost-cutting suggestions that are implemented.
- Management could give employees more opportunity to interact with them.
- I could ask for employee representatives to approach management with ideas and complaints.
- I could make sure all supervisors know company policy and the role of every individual employee in it, and that they convey this to the employees.
- Organize brainstorming sessions that would give all employees a chance to suggest ideas.
- Arrange management meetings that include staff who do not normally attend, but are more in touch with the needs and expectations of all employees.
- Reward teams that manage to cut costs without compromising quality.
- Offer a bonus to individuals or teams that come up with the most useful suggestions for cost-cutting.
- Allow employees to 'appeal' their increase with convincing reasons for reconsideration.
Now it’s your turn