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Close Observation

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This method supports meditative observation, connection with nature, and intuitive problem-solving.


Typically, people move directly from posing a question to searching for an answer. Conversely, this practice supports a form of more oblique and intuitive problem-solving. Participants are asked to formulate an important question, and then take time to closely observe their surroundings and see what insights or wisdom emerge.


  1. Ask participants to start by thinking of a core dilemma that they are facing in relation to themselves and their work;
  2. Instruct them to leave the building and walk or sit quietly, noticing what goes on in and around them with all their senses (see 9. Evoking the Senses, p. 28) and observing what stands out. Let them know that it does not have to relate logically to their question;
  3. After they return, take a few minutes to individually write down thoughts, images, or insights that emerged;
  4. Invite people to share reflections, first in pairs, then with their table group.
Place on U
10-30 mins
Materials Needed
Ecological Mindsets
Design Thinking
Human-Nature Connection
Sense of Place
Tip and Experiences
  • As this method requires easy access to the outdoors, the venue may constrain your options or necessitate modification;
  • Reflections might be quite personal in this exercise, thus remind people that everything shared in the context of the workshop is confidential.
Relevant References & Resources

This method was shared with us by Fern Smith, director of Emergence: http://www.emergence-uk.org/

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