Tag Archives: Visual Thinking

Announcing two workshops for September 2016

This year I am very excited to host two workshops focused on the use of visuals in our facilitation practice.

The first is called My Pens, Our Pens and is a brand new offering Sept 16-17. This is being developed with Nancy White (my co-conspirator of the last six years). We are treading into new territory as we explore the role of visuals in design and facilitation.   This is not your traditional workshop. We are looking to push our boundaries (and yours) in terms of the role of visuals in design and facilitation. We will ask hard questions about who captures content and what is its use?  Can visual methods help reporting out be more meaningful? What is the role of metaphor? Constraints? Where are there visual opportunities in process design? When does it make sense to use visuals and where does it detract from the process? What is the process of others capturing and harvesting content? For those joining and wanting an introduction to drawing on walls, there is an optional half-day Sept 15 to teach the basics.

The second is the 7th annual  Rosviz graphic facilitation workshop. This two-day experiential workshop provides the fundamentals needed to get started drawing on walls, use visuals to achieve your goals or hone your existing practice (Sept 19-20). Whether helping communities plan their futures or groups track progress, we will provide the skills and confidence needed to use a range of visuals in your work and engage beyond words.

Workshop details for both offerings are found here!

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New! Graphic Facilitation Workshop July 13-14, 2015

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I am very excited to announce we are offering a graphic facilitation workshop July 13-14, 2015. This is the 6th annual ‘rosviz’ gathering taking place in the mountain setting of beautiful Rossland, British Columbia. We have sold out the last 2 years so register early to secure your spot!

More information here: http://michellelaurie.com/training-and-workshops/graphic-facilitation-workshop-rosviz-2015/?preview_id=227

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Volunteer project complete – what did I learn?

When I saw an ad from a researcher wanting to help visualize mental health training for female sex workers in Kathmandu, I thought maybe my graphic facilitation skills could be of use. Besides, it sounded like an interesting project and very different from my usual environment and development focused work. The project is now complete.

As a facilitator, its typical to debrief with three questions:  what? so what? now what?

What?

Over a period of three months, we had one pilot and three sessions where the women who took the training debriefed their learning and I drew the key points on a wall. Meanwhile, an artist was refining my ideas on a wacom tablet in order to produce a digital image in real time. After the discussion died down, the women went through my drawing explaining what they saw and I added or commented on anything that was new or different from their interpretation.  Sometimes they saw things I never imagined however typically we both had the main ideas in sync. The refined digital image was saved on a USB and taken to a print shop nearby while the women were given a free lunch of Nepali Daal Bhat. The print out was delivered and all women took a copy with them to use in their own discussions with women in their ‘professional networks’.

Here is an example of the last training session output.  The left side is the refined version by the artist and the right side was the sketch I drew on the wall in front of the ladies as they provided their learning impressions.  The debrief sessions were always about 30 minutes max so this was a very quick interpretation of their training.

Graphic representation of lessons learned.  Left side by Adi Bereshit-Elias and Right side by Michelle Laurie

Graphic representation of lessons learned. Left side by Adi Bereshit-Elias and Right side by Michelle Laurie

So what?

I’m still waiting for the researcher to do her analysis on how the visuals contributed (or not) to facilitating mental health discussions by the trainees with their colleagues.  However, she did send a note recently saying, “In the post-training reactions a couple of the women said that their favorite part of the training was the “learning through drawing” part! With your help, we were able to provide a largely illiterate population with a practical and meaningful tool that helped them complete their teaching tasks with a lot more confidence than they otherwise would have had.”

For all us of involved it was a big learning experience.  I have learned a few things including:

  • It is possible to draw without words and explain ideas (though I find this very intimidating!)
  • Keying in on the main message and using a central image are helpful tactics
  • Putting the icons/drawing onto a landscape or setting helps the ideas to not ‘sit in space’
  • Perfection isn’t needed though an artist can do amazing things to spruce up a sketch (i.e. make it look professional)
  • People remember the discussion having watched the drawing take place before their eyes and take part in the meaning making
  • Visuals are a bridge across language but can also be tricky (i.e. watch out for cultural metaphors and faux pas!)

Now What?

I hope to take part in the celebration with the participants this April and learn more about how their on the ground sessions went with their colleagues.  Personally, I have learned a lot about having confidence to make a mark on the page in front of a group of people talking about serious issues AND have the ability to step back and be okay with what they like and dislike with the drawing created.

While I really appreciated the artists’ support, I also plan to work on my visual vocabulary as it does get easier to draw on the fly with practice, and use of specific icons.

I am happy to have participated in a new and exciting application of visual methods and will continue to push my edges.

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Sense making with community and an artist in Nepal

Female sex workers ready to train colleagues with their 'visual training aid' (Feb 7, 2014)

Female sex workers ready to train their colleagues with jointly created ‘visual training aid’ (Feb 7, 2014)

This blog post follows up from an earlier post I wrote about applying graphic facilitation in new contexts. The day arrived last Friday for the first official training of female sex workers (in Nepal) in improving their mental health.  Women were given a training and then debriefed.  During the debrief, the facilitator asked the women, what are the main messages you learned from the training?

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Mental health training workshop with female sex workers in Nepal.

The women provided feedback on what they learned, what they felt was most important and the key messages to provide to their colleagues in the trainings they will provide on their own over the next two weeks. They were enthusiastic and had lots to say.

During that time, I drew out the main messages on a wall that was in plain view.   I started with a woman hugging herself as the key point was the importance to love yourself and be kind to yourself in order to be able to give to others such as family and the community.  It also helps for creativity and generating new ideas.  The idea of taking time for oneself was talked about, physical pain being related to mental illness, as well as the struggle of implementing what was learned in the real world, when one walks out the door. They gave the drawing a title, “My Life”.

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Adi, an Israeli artist, drawing on the tablet.

When finished, we went over the drawing as a group sharing what we saw and how it reflected back what they said.  At the same time, an artist was drawing the key points on her wacom tablet to create a refined, digital version that could be printed immediately for women to take away with them.  The entire process of reflection, drawing and refinement was about 30 minutes (i.e. quick!).

Here is the rough live version (done by me) as well as the artists’ rendition (with Nepali translation) and some additional images to remind them to share what they learned with their colleagues.

The live image I created on a visible wall.

The live image I created on a visible wall.

The artists rendition drawn on a tablet.

The artists rendition drawn on a tablet.

The final digital drawing was taken to a print shop nearby while the women were given a free lunch.  The free food was key to getting the women to stick around after the training.

The copies were brought back and distributed so they had something to help them remember the content when training their colleagues and friends.  The women were very thankful and interested in the whole visualization process. Despite the language barrier, I gather they appreciated being heard and having input into the product they took home.  This is certainly one of the main messages I promote for why graphic facilitation is a great tool with meaning making and groups.

We are planning to use the same technique next week in the second training of the three part series.

Overall, working with an artist is really amazing and I will try it again in the future in other contexts.    

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The women were very appreciative and thanked us with flowers and tika.

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Changing the landscape…

Visually Planning Using a Mind Map

Visually Planning Using a Mind Map

It’s fall in Canada and a season full of change.  The leaves change colour, the temperature cools and the wind picks up!  I love change and I love fall.  This year we are inspired to change our landscape and experience a different culture for a few months.  We rented our house and bought tickets to Kathmandu.  On the one hand it seems foreign and on the other hand it feels completely natural.

On the practical side of planning there is lots to do! The numerous lists I was creating to ‘get things done’ were getting lost in the piles of paper.  So, I took a step back and decided to think big.  I create a mind map on a central wall in the house and ensured the task list was visible.  I used a mind map because it allows space to continuously add things as they ‘pop up’.  I starting to check things off as they got accomplished.  Seeing the red checks and the map fill  is quite satisfying and calming despite the chaos of a big move.  The warm fall colours help me embrace the transition period.

With ten days to go, there is lots to do so I’ll write more from Nepal.  In brief, the plan is to set up a home office overseas and continue consulting.  I look forward to working on some projects in Asia and revisiting my international development roots.  We will see what the first few months bring and then adapt our course based on what we experience and learn.  It feels good to realize  a dream and truly test the boundaries of a mobile knowledge worker!  Keep in touch online 🙂

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One week until Graphic Facilitation Workshops

Good Morning People!

This is a week of anticipation…before a very exciting week of fun.

We are 7 days away from hosting 2 graphic facilitation workshops.  We have the annual RosViz event in Rossland, BC (4 time!) and Vancouver, BC (1st time!).  These workshops provide a great excuse to pick up the markers once again and let the creative energy flow!  The last time I did this was the night before I went into labour (November 2012)  for real 🙂

What’s ahead…designing the agenda, practicing those icons, some back and forth with a woman I truly feel fortunate to work with, and a chance to meet and work with amazing people from across BC, AB and the USA.

Check out the poster that was made for our Vancouver workshop sponsored by BC Campus and UBC:

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Vancouver is sold out!

Rossland (Sept 23-24) still has a few spaces left and we would love to have you join the fun!  Find out more at: http://michellelaurie.com/graphic-facilitation-workshops-2013/

We even have a social reporter this year so lots of pics, tweets (#rosviz), and stories to come!

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Knowledge Management & Climate Change Adaptation

A few months ago, the KM4Dev Journal put a call out for contributions linking Knowledge Management and Climate Change Adaptation.  Given these are two of my most passionate areas of work, I could not resist.

I wrote a short story: Lessons on bridging knowledge management with climate change adaptation: a story from southeastern British Columbia, Canada.

My goal was to explain some of the jargon and get down to the basics.  You can read about it here: http://journal.km4dev.org/index.php/km4dj/article/viewFile/138/204

Comments welcome!

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