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Translating Inclusive Leadership through Storytelling and Professional Theater Artists

These workshops are for professionals and companies aiming to improve employee engagement amid organizational changes. Key topics include inclusive leadership, customer experience, resistance to change, and amplifying underrepresented voices to elevate leadership effectiveness.

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What is
Playback Theater?

Playback is an applied form of participatory and improvisational theatre. Each performance is based on the experiences, thoughts and stories told by the participating audience.

Typically a playback performance lasts for 1,5 hours, during which facilitator Jaana Taskinen guides participants to share their experiences on chosen topics. After this, the actors play the story back to the audience with sensitivity and empathy.

Through their performance, the actors can make relations and interactions between people and events visible. Therefore, allowing the participating audience an opportunity to see their situations from the outside and create the ability to arrive at insights and possible solutions.

So why
Playback Theater?

Organizations face significant hurdles in implementing inclusive leadership and fostering employee engagement, particularly during periods of substantial change. Key challenges include:

Major organizational changes, such as new CRM systems or company-wide transformations, often encounter significant resistance. Employees may be reluctant to adopt new systems or processes due to comfort with the status quo or fear of the unknown.

Traditional methods of gathering employee feedback, such as focus groups or surveys, can be time-consuming and may not fully capture the depth of employee sentiments.

Important perspectives, especially from underrepresented groups, often remain unheard, leading to decisions that do not fully reflect the diverse needs of the workforce.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated feelings of isolation and disconnection among employees, making it even more challenging to foster a sense of community and shared purpose, especially with the current hybrid workplace.

Formal events and structures often fail to engage employees in a meaningful way, resulting in missed opportunities for genuine dialogue and understanding.

My workshop with Playback theatre group Hyvä Kätilö helps you care for the greatest resource of your organization, human potential.

Want to dive in deeper? Watch our explanatory video here below.

Our Solution

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Playback Theater workshops offered a unique and effective solution to these challenges. The key components of our solution included:

 

  1. Interactive Feedback: Playback Theater provided an engaging platform where employees could share their personal stories related to organizational challenges. This interactive format encouraged open dialogue and honest feedback.
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  3. Time Efficiency: Unlike traditional focus groups or surveys that require extensive time to organize and analyze, Playback Theater quickly gathered diverse and trustworthy perspectives in a short period.
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  5. Emotional Connection: The workshops facilitated a deep emotional connection among participants by bringing to life the stories of resistance, change, and inclusion. This emotional engagement fostered empathy and understanding.
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  7. Visibility of Invisible Issues: By dramatizing personal stories, the workshops made invisible issues visible, highlighting the underlying reasons behind resistance to change and other organizational challenges.
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  9. Facilitator Excellence: The workshops were led by award-winning theater facilitator Jana Taskenen, whose expertise ensured a structured yet flexible environment that maximized participant engagement and insight.

Our Impact

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The impact of the Playback Theater workshops was multifaceted and profound:

 

  1. COVID-19 Adaptation: During the pandemic, the workshops served as an essential tool for reconnecting employees and bridging the gap created by social isolation. Participants felt more tuned in and united despite the physical distances.
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  3. Engagement Across Backgrounds: The workshops effectively engaged employees from diverse backgrounds and projects, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose. This inclusivity helped align employees with organizational goals and values.
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  5. Revealing Hidden Perspectives: The interactive and spontaneous nature of Playback Theater revealed critical but previously hidden perspectives. This transparency allowed organizations to address issues that might have otherwise been overlooked.
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  7. Service Design Improvement: Insights gained from the workshops informed better service design and project strategies. For instance, understanding why international students preferred student union events over career services helped universities tailor their offerings more effectively.
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  9. Enhanced Wellbeing: The therapeutic aspect of theater and storytelling promoted overall employee wellbeing. Participants reported feeling more connected, valued, and understood, contributing to a healthier organizational culture.

Feedback

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The feedback from the workshops was positive. Participants praised the Playback Theater workshops for their engaging and impactful format. They highlighted the following aspects:

  • Relatability: The workshops promoted a strong sense of relatability among colleagues, enhancing empathy and mutual understanding.
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  • Innovative Approach: The dynamic and interactive nature of the sessions was a refreshing change from traditional workshop formats. Employees appreciated the opportunity to express their views creatively.
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  • Effective Feedback Mechanism: The workshops provided a valuable platform for gathering honest and actionable feedback, helping organizations make informed decisions.
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  • Wellbeing Boost: The sessions contributed positively to employee wellbeing by fostering a supportive and empathetic environment.
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Overall, participants appreciated the opportunity to share their stories in a safe and supportive environment. Many highlighted the emotional impact of seeing their experiences portrayed on stage, noting how it helped them process and understand their feelings better. The workshops were praised for their inclusivity and the skillful facilitation that made everyone feel heard and valued.

I can truly recommend this kind of workshop, specially with remote working. We organized workshop on topics of international recruitment with quite diverse group of project professionals and they saw impact of their work through storytelling, got new ideas and felt strong involvement. My warmest recommendations!

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For the final event of a three-year project with the Pensioners’ Union, we selected a Playback Theater workshop to connect NGO professionals with their cause of creating meaningful encounters. The sincerity, teamwork, and professionalism of the actors greatly enhanced the event’s execution and format, adding an engaging and memorable dimension. This approach also helped in planning future projects more effectively, ensuring they meet their objectives while addressing both successes and challenges.

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What Audiences Say

Cross-Sector Collaboration

Lessons learned from Finland.

Kamilla employs a forward-thinking approach that surpasses expectations, striving to foster an environment of collaboration and innovation by actively engaging with artist groups. Through this approach, Kamilla aims to redefine cultural growth and drive positive change. In the workshop, Kamilla encourages open dialogue and exploration of evidence and insights that highlight the urgent need to reconsider empowerment within policy making. This is particularly crucial in today's digital era, where the COVID pandemic has exacerbated inequality.

• Learn about experimental approach to tackle youth and social inequality which carried out by participants across public, private and organizational sectors at the Finnish innovation fund’s Sitra lab.

• Get a dive in on latest approaches to workforce development: co-creating employment services uniting broader audiences including youth, immigrants and international talents.

• Turn your pride into passion: transform, inspire and lead through social capital exchange, networking, inclusion and equality.

• Get practical examples on effective employer and diverse quality talent in partnership with schools, colleges, universities in Finland applicable on global scale.

Ready to make something happen?