Hailey Group’s experiential approach is rooted in a discussion method called Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), which we initially apply to art and later to clients’ own work processes.

Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) is a research-based, well-established methodology growing out of the work of cognitive psychologist Abigail Housen and art educator Philip Yenawine. It was developed to facilitate open-ended, evidence-based discussions about art, but its impact is far-reaching. VTS is currently being applied within healthcare, education, and through Hailey Group, the business world.

Peer-reviewed research on the impact of VTS shows that it enhances skills in observation, communication, critical thinking, and collaboration, and increases comfort with ambiguity. VTS has significant benefits in contexts outside the arts when applied to challenging issues that involve constituents from different roles and perspectives, and/or that require diagnosis.


Our immersive workshops, led by Hailey Group coaches, begin with the experience of looking deeply at art using VTS, sharing observations, and reflecting on the resulting dialogue. Workshop participants are coached in core techniques of VTS, eventually applying specific techniques directly within their work environments.

Why art?    The initial focus on art provides a relatively neutral point of reference, removed from the participants’ organizational biases and habits, and offers a model for a functional learning culture. Visual art, which is inherently ambiguous and layered with meaning, serves as a corollary for a complex data set combined into a single field of vision, one that can generate very different perspectives based on the same evidence. VTS discussions about art also activate, and over time significantly develop, visual thinking skills, which are chronically under-utilized in today’s business environment.

Process and Outcomes.    In all our workshops, participants practice concrete communication skills (observing, asking, listening, paraphrasing, framing); evidence-based reasoning; and the integration of conflict, ambiguity, failure, and multiple perspectives into problem-solving. They learn to apply VTS techniques and concepts directly to their ongoing work.

Outcomes for participants:

  • Skills for generating effective, respectful communication
  • Strategies for organizing work as a learning process
  • Experience creating meaningful participation in complex problem-solving
  • Enhanced self-awareness of individual facilitation skills and impact on interpersonal and group dynamics.

Outcomes for organizations:

  • Innovative, effective, adaptable working groups
  • Tangible strategies to sustain a learning culture with increased job satisfaction and productivity
  • Saved time and money through speedier product delivery and higher project success rates

Workshops run from two hours to multiple days and may be sequenced over weeks or months. They take place in client offices or in a museum or gallery. Hailey Group’s team of professionally trained coaches can accommodate a range of group sizes. 

Sample Workshops.     Workshops are designed in consultation with clients to fit specific organizational goals. They can be formulated in sync with particular organizational methodologies (for example, agile-based project management or design thinking) and focused on specific themes such as Feedback or Bias Awareness.

Please contact us for more information. Examples of workshops include:

  • Establishing a Learning Culture in the Workplace
  • Open Questioning, Active Listening: Teams
  • Leadership as Stewardship
  • Embedding Visual Thinking and Collaboration
  • Training in VTS Facilitation



Dabney Hailey frequently presents publicly on topics in the arts, change management, leadership and teambuilding, and Visual Thinking Strategies. Please contact Dabney to think through a topic that meets your goals.

CONTACT         Dabney Hailey         617.816.5619