Imprinting: Leadership in meetings and more

Posted on by Brandon Klein


The ASE Space is frequently new and different to organizations and participants. They do not know how to behave individually or collectively in it. There is the added stress of confronting a large, complex problem with the expectation that they will return from this off-site venue with a solution.



The facilitator can use imprinting on several levels. Just as Marine Boot Camp takes away the norms of civilization, but provides a drill sergeant as a model of how to behave, the ASE provides the staff/krew as models of how to work in a collaborative space. The company at the ASE will look to the front-of-the-room figure as the person that can lead them through the thickets of their challenges and prove a path to a solution (when in fact they discover it themselves). This Imprinting effect provides a very different role for the facilitator on a long-term engagement. The facilitator can be perceived as having unique and very valuable insight into an organization, the same way a psychiatrist is perceived as having special insight into the mind of a person undergoing treatment. That can allow them the ability to say things or affect the client in important ways. The imprinting can also be about how to create a new way of working for the organization.

In a new space, when you leave the patterns of your life behind, you can click to a new behavior. It can happen to you on a vacation, or a business trip or by moving to a different location. You have a sense of freedom, of new possibilities, of many things being possible.

We strive to create this effect at the ASE. When a set of participants arrives at the ASE, they often report that it looks like an adult day-care facility or adult Montessori school. Others comment on the sense of freedom and openness. What they are experiencing is not having the cues to their normal behavioral patterns present. They don’t know how to behave, and have to have new patterns and behaviors imprinted on them. Those patterns set very quickly, and come from what they see of the facilitator and Krew and what they hear in the introduction from the sponsor.

Be aware of the power of imprinting, the critical importance of correctly setting the stage at the beginning of the event, and the special role you may create with our client.