Blog & Insight

Landscaping Your Life for teams

Over the last 30 years I've facilitated a variety of different team events whether as a stand alone training workshop or as part of a wider team away day.

To give you a sense of the possible I thought share the details of some of the sessions whether:

  • Vision setting
  • Creative problem solving
  • Soft skills training
  • Prescription for wellbeing
  • A word audit (sounds simple but hugely impactful and often undertaken alongside one of the other activities)

Vision Setting

The board of management of an organisation were having a vision and strategy day. By way of a getting them out of their more usual mindsets and behaviours I sent them out into the local landscape in small groups to notice what they noticed.

One group came back with a story of walking along a track that felt like a deadend.

The conversation aligned with "if we keep doing what we're doing the organisation is going to come to the end of the road."

As they walked along the track someone noticed a hole in the hedge,

and encouraged by my request for them to follow their inner wisdom they decided to see what lay the other side of the hole.

So six suited business leaders ended up pushing their way through the hole into the field beyond.

They walked up the hill at the other side and could see for miles around.

A very different outcome than if they'd continued to walk along the original track.

They returned to the board room with a new found enthusiasm for making changes to support the long term flourishing of the organisation.

The ability for us to allow nature's landscapes to be a mirror for the problem we're grappling with is something that no longer surprises me. Every time I wonder "will this be the time nature will fail to share its insight", and every time I'm surprised by the depth of insight and shift in perspective people achieve - even from a short 45 minutes in nature.

Creative Problem Solving

It's as if I've gone out of my way to find unconventional and yet very effective tools for solving problems.

Whilst these are used in my coaching work I also offer workshops to teach a number of these tools. Whether applied to a specific problem or by way of learning the tools and techniques for future use.

These sessions are particularly useful where currently the most common problem solving tools being used by the team is post-it notes and brainstorming. Because I firmly believe that these more traditional forms of problem solving seem to edge creative thinking out and instead focus on more logical thinking.

The aim of the tools in the LANDCAPE coaching and problem solving toolkit is to send logical thinking on a coffee break whilst we view the problem from different perspectives to uncover what's currently hidden from view.

Sessions can take place in a usual meeting room, although museums and parks are also much encouraged and sessions can cover as many or as few of the tools as meets the needs of the session and the culture of the team.

A recent session for example had 2 parts - the first was aimed at one specific creative problem solving tool, and the second covered wellbeing using my prescription for wellbeing - which I've now published as a journal (see below for details).

In addition to more traditional business tools sessions might also include the following techniques:

Standing in someone's shoes

Using nature as a metaphor - with my podcast and book covering the wide range of these tools

Drawing - I loved this strategy for how to manage their time which became about protecting their time from others


Pipe cleaners or other tools

Poems (I use poems I've written to support my own personal development and self awareness that I realise resonate for others too)

Frameworks for change coaching process

Soft skills training

Whilst for the last 30 years I've delivered more traditional soft skills training covering for example stakeholder engagement, communication planning or listening skills etc in 2023 I've brought my work with metaphors together with my soft skills training as part of series of 7 sessions looking at 7 topics that contribute to high performance.

You'll see details below, and to say I'm excited is an understatement.


Common questions in coaching sessions are:

  • What can you do that will help
  • What do you need to stop doing that's not helping

Whether that's in order to be more focused, confident, motivated, positive or any other mindset needed to achieve an outcome.

During the coaching sessions the idea of a prescription emerged - perhaps inspired by this vlog:

The prescription is a list we write ahead of time that we can refer to when we're struggling - because, for example, I may know that watching too many doomsday movies makes me jittery and yet I can also find it very easy to forget! Seeing it written down when I'm out of sorts can be the nudge I need to walk away from the remote and do something more helpful - like go for a swim.

Once I'd developed a prescription proforma, and shared it during a procurement team's away day, the idea of putting them into a journal emerged.

The Your Prescription for wellbeing journal is available from Amazon worldwide - although if you want copies for your whole team you may be better contacting us direct and we can get them printed for you. It's certainly a great subject for any team away day.

I also do mental health training and coaching as a Headtorch associate, and love spreading the message that we all have mental health (yes 100% of us) and sharing the skills to enable everyone to feel comfortable about having supportive conversations with colleagues or team members when they're struggling.

Word audit

A word audit usually takes place during other training or events where you and team are unaware of the impact words are having on the outcomes you're getting and I bring that to your attention during our time together.

It's a topic I feel very passionate about and so would be happy to listen in or attend any team events to provide feedback on what might be contributing to the current lack or restricted progress:

Words that I've discussed with teams have included:

  • Roles eg for one team a few team members did not like nor resonate with the title they were being asked to put in their email signature which impacted how they felt about their role and therefore was negatively impacting their relationships with stakeholders.
  • Descriptions for stakeholders - I'll let you decide why I'd recommend steering clear as a team of describing any stakeholders or customers as maverick. And don't get me started on why "they" are not the problem.
  • Category strategy - yes you may be clear what you think a category strategy is - and yet there are multiple different definitions - not least how do you define the category and is the strategy a high level and fairly quick assessment of the situation or a deeper and longer dive into the data. You have to be very sure everyone is on the same page - not least when you get a consultancy in to help you develop them (example taken from procurement because that's the environment I've work predominantly in for larger corporates for over 35 years).
  • Are you looking for solutions or answers - because a minor change may make all the difference to whether you find them or not - I kid you not.
  • Gardening/War/Race/Machine - what's your team's underlying metaphor because if you see everything as a race and the rest of the business sees life like a garden with companion planting they may not resonate with the concept of having winners and losers - which might explain why you're having difficulties with the them.

It's this focus on language that formed the basis of my Can't see the wood for the trees book and Landscaping Your Life with Alison Smith Podcast because the metaphors we use when we're stuck point us in the direction where we'll find the solution.

If you'd like to find out more about any of these for your organisation do please get in touch +44(0)7770 538159.

121 coaching is also available with most sessions taking 2-3 hours - although often it's only the one session that's needed to help you get the perspective you need to get back on track.


© Alison Smith
VAT Registration: 224 5001 58
Registered in Scotland, Registration Number: SC457105
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