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University of Lincoln: College of Arts

Connecting through shared narratives

Invisible Grail helped create space to pull out the raw materials, and facilitated techniques that were useful to elicit people’s views. We now have an agreed narrative of where we will be in 2025. Our action plan is nearly there, and all schools will be running an away day that applies insights and proposals from 2 of the thematic challenges, so it’s all been very fruitful.”

Professor Abigail Woods, Pro Vice Chancellor / Head of College of Arts, University of Lincoln

Working in partnership with the Head of the College of Arts, we designed and ran an experiential programme to help create a narrative for the future of the College. Over the course of five months students, academics, colleagues from professional services and the leadership team came together to shape the strategic direction of the College, and enable leadership potential to flourish in the process.


We used both creative and immersive techniques to unlock people’s imagination, and set the tone for a shared endeavour into shaping the future of the College. For the programme to be meaningful, it was important to design experiences that would create opportunities for people to see and hear one another in ways that differed from their normal encounters.

Over five months, we ran two parallel strands to the programme:

Working with the College Leadership Team

The first strand was to work with the Leadership Team to articulate where they saw themselves now and in the future. Our approach was to use quiet reflection and creative writing exercises for people to distil their thoughts, before feeding back to the group. Powerful statements of the groups strengths and values gave colleagues room and thinking space to articulate the things that matter. Drawn together, these exercises created a written manifesto of the values that guide the Leadership Team.

College-wide Thematic Inquiries

The second strand was to involve colleagues from across the College in three thematic inquiries, each one focusing on a different strategic challenge or question. Thematic inquiries are designed to engage all participants in a focused, solution-orientated endeavour. A highly immersive experience, colleagues worked through facilitated activities often with people they hadn’t worked alongside before, to draw out fresh thinking and try out their leadership skills in a safe space.

The climax of each inquiry was to present colleagues’ suggested solution to three external, high-profile guest provocateurs, and distil the most compelling actions from this.

Outcomes and experiences

Whilst both strands had practical outcomes for the College, they were also designed to create memorable experiences where colleagues could create new dynamics in finding solutions and strengthening working relationships with one another.

The experiences helped catalyse engagement, and channelled the expertise from across the College in designing the future and where they go next. A narrative for the College is evolving. Invisible Grail’s modelling of facilitative engagement can be adapted to changing contexts, and future challenges and opportunities.

Find out more

If you would like to explore how we can work with you, please contact our Academic Director, Paul Gentle.