1343590384_7d6279f41d_t.jpgGeocache out the back door. Make up your own metasaga stop to go with it.

Play this song and think about being in Glasgow with some friends.

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
The group met at Glasgow's main meeting place, the concert hall and steps. Here young and old gather at the new vibrant heart of Glasgow.

Now I am going to hand you over to Lesley and let you share her experience. Philip Wong's visual journey at the bottom of the page captures the story of a walk through the city .

Metasaga Tales

Event First Urban Metasaga
When October, 2009
Where Buchanan St, Glasgow
Who A group of independent coaches, mentors and consultants who were curious……..
Led by Kate Coutts and Lesley Wilson, Metasaga Guides

We gathered for coffee and introductions in the café of Glasgow
Concert Hall. The history and evolution of Metasaga along with the shape and process for our morning adventure was lightly

And then we stepped out into the sunlight of an autumn morning with
the whole of Buchanan St ahead of us to St Enoch Square and beyond
to the once proud River Clyde.

We often take place for granted and yet it is where we live or work and
impacts us in so many ways. Metasaga is about place so we took our
bearings. We were standing on a high point at a junction between
Sauchihall St and Buchanan St-both of which have been the centre of
Glasgow for many people-both residents of the city and visitors alike.

We surveyed Glasgow with fresh eyes. The first story was shared by
Lesley. It was about someone who she had worked with almost 30
years ago who had a vision for Glasgow and for the Concert Hall. Like
most visions, you need clarity, engagement, resilience as well as the
problem solving and project management skills needed to make it

The Question she asked the group
What is your vision for your work and your life?

We moved to half way down the Concert Hall steps and Kate drew
our attention to the Glasgow Coat of Arms. Kate shared the little glasgow_coat_of_arms9947v.jpg known fact in the group that the motto associated with the coat of
arms has been shortened to fit the changing city. We were told that
the motto in full would be discovered on our last stop of the morning.

The question for the group to consider was
What is your motto? If you had a coat of arms what would it
be and what would it represent?
We moved slowly to the bottom of the steps and gathered at the base
of the statue of Donald Dewar. We learned something about the man
who made a very significant contribution to the city and to Scotland.
One of the group had known Donald personally and shared something
of the man and his vision for Scotland. We read the wording on the
base of the statue and recognized that Donald Dewar achieved a
dream he had held for a long time.

A question triggered by this stop was What is your dream? What do you believe in strongly enough
to fight for?

Already the group was slowing down. People were having
conversations in small groups of 2 or 3. Someone was taking
photographs-another was to see Glasgow through a different lens. It
took almost 20minutes before we were together again at the top of
the steps down into Glasgow underground at Buchanan St subway. We
considered the imagination, risk, innovation and engineering skills
required to create this transport system which is as well used and
loved today as it was the day it opened.

We laughed at the story of the upgrading of the subway system. When
the upgraded subway re-opened with its shiny new trains and stations,
commuters complained that it did not have the ‘smell’ of the old
subway. After some research, the ‘smell’ was re-introduced.
The "Subway"

We also considered the outer world of what is on show and the hidden
world which is underground. Finally, as we shared more subway
experiences, we considered the many faces of Glasgow-not just one
city but many cities.

Already eliciting questions from the group was easier as they
experienced metasaga. Some questions emerging included:

What is our openness to risk and opportunity?
What do we have on display and what is hidden?
How do we adapt as times change?

As we slowly emerged into the daylight, we agreed to meet on the
steps of the Apple Store. This store is housed in a beautiful old
building that has had several uses in its lifetime from bank to furniture
store to the centre of a community of people who love Apple
technology. It was introduced by Lesley ( a self confessed Apple lover)
as a magical kingdom filled with goodies such as Mac Book Pro, Itouch,
Iphones and software that is so intuitive it out ranks its rivals (in her
opinion, anyway!!). Learning is fun with Apple technology because it
makes it easy to try things and have early successes-you almost
cannot get it wrong.
You are drawn into the store as it sparkles through open doors giving
you a hint of what lies beyond. You are greeted and helped to find
what you need or encouraged just to explore. The only sign of what
the building houses is the Apple brand above the door. The power of
the brand is so strong that nothing more needs to be said.
The group went into the store to find their own questions and
experience the environment. They came back with some really powerful

If you couldn’t get it wrong, what would you do?
What is my brand? What do I stand for?
What limitations am I putting on myself because of the
technology I use? What limitation am I putting on myself and
my work by not embracing the latest developments in my
How good am I at transforming what I offer to meet the
changing needs of my client group?

We walked onto our next stop at Princes Square already aware that
Metasaga was working its magic.

Princes Square is an upmarket shopping centre created with
the determination of a small group of people against quite a lot of
opposition. So again, vision and determination emerged as being
critical-something to do with clarity of purpose and willingness to take
risks and that challenge is important if you want to aspire to
something beyond the mundane.
But we entered Princes Square a very specific way-up an elevator to
the second floor and our attention was drawn by Kate to the images of
famous Scots on the walls of the elevator along with their area of
contribution. This may have been medicine, law, engineering in its
many forms. We noticed there were no women in the grouping of great
Scots and wondered why.

And a question rose to the surface easily.

What is my best contribution?
What is the work I need to do?
How does that fit with what I am doing now?
What risks am I prepared to take for something that is really

Time was galloping on as we partly retraced our steps to St George’s
Tron church which sits halfway down Buchanan St nestled in Nelson
Mandela Square.This church has a long history and had its 250th
anniversary in 2008.The church recently re-opened after a
refurbishment both inside and out. I had passed the church many times
over the years and not once been curious enough to look inside so why
did I discover it for the metasaga. The answer is simple-the door was
open (like the Apple Store) and tit welcomed people to come inside.
When you enter you are drawn by the simplicity of the layout and the
lightness of it. Glass allows light throughout the space and it has a
quiet simplicity. You also notice that it is a haven of tranquility in the
heart of a bustling city.
Kate drew our attention to the Glasgow motto written in full on the
glass wall separating the bookstore from the main area of the church.
A concert was de to start so we were invited to have a coffee and
enjoy the music. Some of us did.

Some questions floating to the surface were:

Where do I go to find some space for quiet reflection?
How do I let more light into my life and work?
What is the importance of reflective practice to my work?
What is the soundtrack of my life and work?
Of all that I do, when does my energy and heart soar?

And so, our first urban metasaga ended-or did it? Most of those who
participated have said what a powerful experience it was for them. It
continued to resonate well after the event and still questions are
popping into they minds. Already 2 of the group are working with me
to design a metasaga for different groups of coaches and so the
journey continues……

Anyone who is interested in learning more about Metasaga should contact Lesley Wilson
at dreamcatcherglasgow@hotmail.com or on 07980 449135

A blog entry from a virtual metasaga participant
Malcolm Bellamy's Lifelong Learning Blog

Metasaga: a new dimension in leadership

I was sent an e-mail this morning “WikispacesThe Best Educational Wikis of 2010” . These were the Edublogs Best Educational Wikis of 2010.
The runner up was Metasaga

Now this Wiki was a bit special in my opinion. This is not to take anything away from the winner which has obviously impressed people two years running.
Metasaga is an amazing idea that links environment with metaphor and leadership. It allows people to explore their environment and to seek ideas from what they find.
To quote the Wiki: “Metasaga is a journey through the culture, heritage and physical landscape. It allows leaders at all levels to engage in deep self- reflection by exploring their environment. It utilises a strengths-based, whole system approach to evaluate how they operate as leaders and the performance of the organisation they lead. It makes leaders at all levels reframe their thinking using metaphor, narrative, tradition and artefacts found in their own physical environment.”
I explored the Wiki and found something that had a personal recollection for me… this was Buchanan Street Glasgow described as the first urban metasaga.
I first went to Glasgow on a summer holiday about twenty-five years ago. I stayed in university rooms in the West End of the city and explored an urban environment that I just fell in love with.
I can remember walking down Buchanan Street and looking at the strange mix of ancient and modern architecture. I had not thought to seek ideas from what I saw that made me think about my ideals, my vision, my hopes.
Here was a walk down the same old road. This time it was a group of school leaders. There were guides who knew something of the history and stories of the place.
In the Wiki you can read a narrative and then see some wonderful photographs that one of the participants, Phil Wong, took. I felt as if I was there and I could see the scenes and imagine what I might have thought as the questions were put to me….
What is your vision for your work and your life?
What is your motto? If you had a coat of arms what would it
be and what would it represent?
What is your dream? What do you believe in strongly enough
to fight for?
I think that the metasaga is such a great idea if you are thinking of having some leadership training. I would strongly recommend that you investigate the Wiki and then take a walk with your colleagues and let them explore their ideas and express their dreams and beliefs. Maybe you can add to the metasagas on the Wiki.. I look forward to reading them.

My Own Buchanan Street experience...

I am a visual person, and wanted to share my images from this wonderful metasaga. The titles are my own, with homage to the journey metaphor. You can make up your own journey as you look at the images, sense what they make you feel and hear the sounds. Enjoy.

The Journey

Standing Tall

The Sign

The Mask





Old and New
Keep Your Shirt On
The Alley

Time Stands Still
Stand Proud

With love, Phil Wong