When: Wednesday  September 24, 2014
Where:  Burlington MA

Who: Dabney Hailey



Successful agile environments must foster innovative mindsets, open communication and emergent leadership skills across team members. In other words, a healthy, productive agile workplace is one in which people are organized to learn and grow, not merely to execute.How, specifically, can such an environment be cultivated? In this session, you’ll experience being part of an authentic learning culture as we look together at a work of art, then reflect on the methodology structuring our dialogue.We will experience Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a discussion technique that models and teaches key features of teams that are organized to learn. Rooted in research from cognitive psychology and art education, VTS was originally developed to empower viewers of art through open-ended, evidence-based discussion, yet its impact has been far broader.

Studies on VTS show that it:

  • Enhances skills in observation, critical thinking, and collaboration,
  • Increases the value team members place on communication, and
  • Increases comfort with ambiguity, which is key to preventing premature decisions in the face of complex problems.

VTS cultivates capacities vital to successful agile environments, within which everyone is accountable and focused, adaptable and creative, secure and open.

VTS is a dynamic, stimulating process. During this introduction, you will experience specific techniques that

  • Create a psychologically safe yet rigorous discussion environment;
  • Use carefully phrased, open-ended questions to steward conversation;
  • Enable everyone to speak and listen, to hear and feel heard;
  • Test ideas through evidence-based reasoning and respectful disagreement;
  • Encourage participants to hold multiple perspectives and recognize biases; and
  • Foster experimentation and the integration of failure into working processes.

We will connect these actions and the learning mindset they embody to core agile principles and your own, ongoing work. We’ll also consider applications of the VTS method and core techniques within agile software development and team organization. And we’ll do all this while analyzing powerful, beautiful works of art!

To learn more about Visual Thinking Strategies workshops in the business world, see

To learn more about the origins and practice of Visual Thinking Strategies within education and museums, see the book, Philip Yenawine, Visual Thinking Strategies: Using Art to Deepen Learning Across School Disciplines (Harvard, 2013).

About Dabney Hailey

Dabney Hailey

Dabney Hailey is a management consultant, curator, and educator. She is a pioneer in the innovative use of the art-based facilitation method, Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), as managerial and team-building tool within commercial enterprises and nonprofit organizations.She leads VTS discussions and trained facilitators in a range of contexts (businesses, museums, universities, and the medical world) , doing so since 2001. The founder and principal of Hailey Consulting Group, her client list includes well-known organizations actively pursuing higher levels of agility : Harvard Business School, Fidelity Investments, Omgeo, and many smaller businesses and nonprofits.Hailey is also an established curator, writer, and educator specializing in modern and contemporary art with over 15 years’ experience in museums and education. Learn more and contact Dabney at