Tag Archives: Workshops

Rosviz 2015 – Guest Blog

By Guest Blogger Lisa Thiessen

Guest Blogger and Social Reporter Lisa Thiessen demonstrates tape tricks!

Guest Blogger and Social Reporter Lisa Thiessen demonstrates tape tricks!

You might have heard about graphic facilitation, been in a meeting with visuals as part of the process, or simply wondered what all the fuss is about. Why would we change the way we look at facilitated experience? What’s in it for the people in the room?

Graphic facilitation is growing in acceptance throughout the corporate and social sectors due to the level of engagement it engenders. What do people do when confronted with large scale paper and drawing? Generally, they respond with genuine interest, curiosity, and a sense of play. Having the invisible made visible is so powerful! It allows people to feel heard, and brings greater depth to the expression, “I see what you mean”.

I had the great pleasure of attending the 2015 Rosviz workshop this week, and of watching a group of facilitators grow individually and collectively in their understanding of strategies for incorporating visuals into their work. From visual introductions to visual harvest and everything in between, there were many aha! moments, thoughtful moments, and much intellectual risk taking. See pics on Flickr! Tweets are all tagged #rosviz !

There’s a big difference between being able to draw well and create something of beauty, and to be able to capably communicate with visuals. Visual facilitation often reflects the messiness, the risk taking, the deeply disorganized thinking that is part of synthesis. The drawing in this context doesn’t have to look pretty – it needs to communicate. Visuals take our ideas and make them spatial, make them tangible. Sometimes they look like a story, sometimes a web, and sometimes, a mess. The goal of graphic facilitation is generally not to make a ‘pretty’ artifact (though sometimes that is part of the process), but to allow the disorganized, difficult business of collaboration move through all of its stages to a state of greater clarity. Visuals allow for the distillation of complex ideas, for the more clear communication of concepts.

One piece that came up over and over again during Rosviz this year – the lesson we learned once, but will practice forever – was about clarity. To use things like thickness of line, white space, colour, and facilitation design in the service of greater clarity: to allow all voices within the room to be heard and considered within the facilitated experience, to break down power imbalances in the space, to better hear the ideas of the group. To share ways of allowing participants to find their own clarity of thought and path, and allow them to find their way to their next steps of their own individual practice. It’s messy. It’s colourful. We end up with marker and chalk on our hands. When learning to draw for the sake of communication, the best question to ask is not, “is it beautiful?” or “can I draw?” but, “does it communicate?” or “does it clarify the ideas generated in the room accurately?”

The Rosviz workshop covered so many aspects of facilitation in a visual context uniquely, by fully embedding the facilitation techniques as the workshop itself. Participants had hands-on experience moving through different processes, learning by doing. They had an opportunity, once the foundations of visual communication were in place, to ask for emphasis on the areas that the group saw as their needs. To create their own experience, with guidance, to taste what it was to host themselves somewhat, to facilitate their own experience, to be engaged in their own experience of learning. This was one of the master strokes of the workshop, in my opinion. They talked a lot about ways that groups work, about the Art of Hosting, and about responding to participants in ways that create a more meaningful experience. This group had the opportunity to make that happen through the design of the workshop itself.

I originally attended Rosviz in 2011. I had been doing graphic recording already at that time, and wanted to see if there was anything fundamental that I didn’t know. I hadn’t fully understood the distinction between graphic recording and graphic facilitation. At the time, I thought that every process had to have a nice looking artifact at the end, something to ‘show’. I hadn’t seen things like some of David Sibbet’s facilitation visuals, with lines and marks all over them – how the visuals can literally be a map of an experience. I’d never considered that process documents need not make sense to anyone but with whom they are made. Being in that group, then, was completely eye opening for me! Even 4 years later, I continue to process things learned or seen at that workshop.

Last year I joined in briefly at the end of one of the days, pitching in to cut paper, meeting up for the alumni dinner. I’d been doing more illustration and graphic recording, working with facilitators to help make interesting, engaging experiences and artifacts. Being in the Rosviz 2014 room was again exciting both because this group was seeing the power of visual facilitation in action, AND because they were having a different experience than I had had 2 years before! True to the style of the workshop, with fundamentals in place, other pieces shifted and changed based on the needs and wants of the group.

This year I had the opportunity to attend as Social Reporter. It was a new angle to look at Rosviz from, lifted out of the experience somewhat, seeing it from the artificial distance created by the viewfinder of a camera. This group? They had their own unique experience. There was, again, a tremendous amount of wisdom in the room. Everyone is a part of this messy business of creating change in their professions and were looking for ways to incorporate visuals. They got to try learn the fundamentals, they got to create their own experiences of harvest. Some of those chunks of harvest have the potential to be ongoing, to enrich the experiences of others. There were beautiful artifacts, there were messy ones. Again, I learned so much.

My harvest? The experience of visual facilitation is as rich as the diversity of the people in the room. Visuals allow for clarity of communication across differences of language and culture. The use of visuals and styles of facilitation are growing and changing all the time. The core of it all is engagement, sense making, clarity. Harvest can look like whatever we want it to. Harvest doesn’t have to end at the end of the facilitated experience. The best experiences inform our next actions, our next paths, creating real change. My harvest is ongoing, growing and changing with my practice.

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Graphic Facilitation 2015 – Skills, Innovation and Fun!

I am very excited to be co-hosting the 6th Annual Graphic Facilitation Workshop in Rossland, BC July 13-14th, 2015.

rosviz2015_poster_master.

Have you noticed how companies and organizations are using visuals more and more in the way they communicate with customers, employees and communities? Learn the tricks of the trade in two days packed with practical skills, confidence building and FUN!

If you are interested in ENGAGING BEYOND WORDS and looking for innovative ways to spice up your practice, this workshop is a fabulous experience.

In the words of 2x participant Fern:

“I wanted to send a quick thank you for hosting such a wonderful workshop. I had a fabulous time and learned a lot, even though I already took the workshop 4 years ago I was thrilled to have the opportunity to take again. The content is rich, the hands on application powerful, the people genuine and the instructors first class. Being immersed in this creative process for two whole days is an amazing experience, I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about graphic facilitation and how it can help positively transform group process.” (Fern Sabo, 2x participant, 2010 & 2014)

What is it exactly?

Sometimes our imaginations are sparked by a visual where words fail us.  Many of us are visual thinkers.  Think about when communities plan and imagine their futures, when teams consider the possible outcomes for their projects, when groups create maps to track their progress.  This experiential workshop focuses on engaging people beyond words and text and takes place almost entirely at the drawing surface. You can expect to go away with icons, ideas and approaches for embedding visuals into your work – which you can use immediately, as well as ideas about how to hone your current practice.  No drawing experience needed (leave your inner censor at the door 🙂

Dates: July 13-14th; times to be confirmed

Rate: $850 + GST (5%)

HOT DEALS:

  • Bring a friend and you both get $50 off!
  • Three people registering from one organization? Bring the fourth one FREE!

 Full Details HERE!

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New! Graphic Facilitation Workshop July 13-14, 2015

IMG_0239 - Version 2

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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Key questions for planning a 5 day scientific symposium

techornontech

Next week I have a meeting with an organization to kick off planning for a 5 day international scientific symposium for about 200-250 people.    They hired me as they want the agenda to be more participatory, innovative and engaging than a typical scientific symposium which generally means powerpoint presentations all day interspersed with some poster sessions and possibly a couple excursions to the local sites.  We will still include the presentations/posters, etc but I will embed them into a more engaging structure that includes different types of knowledge sharing, networking and general engagement.

The planning meeting will have about 10 people from the organization and is my first opportunity to get all ideas on the table as well as key information that I can take away and use to design the first draft of an agenda.  I have two hours to get the information I need with the people in the room.

Here are the questions I’m planning to ask:

  • What are the 3-5 key objectives of the symposium?  (as specific as possible)
  • What are your desired outcomes for:
    • Participants
    • Field of study
    • Public/community
    • Donors
  • What learning, knowledge products and/or artifacts do you want to document during and after the end of the symposium?
  • What are the big questions that all scientists attending are interested in? What big questions are emerging in the field?
  • Who are potential audiences/groups that you would like the visiting scientists to engage with?
  • Are there other organizations that you could partner with to offer community engagement opportunities?  If so, who?
  • What are potential excursions that could be offered?
  • What capacity exists within your organization to help deliver the conference on the ground?  What additional capacity might be needed?
  • Anything else to consider or take note of in the design and planning process?

Am I missing any key questions to get this started? Do you have any suggestions for how to structure the meeting of 10 people to ensure I get through all the material using all knowledge in the room? I am always happy to use visuals as well….

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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Applying Graphic Facilitation in New Contexts

A few weeks ago I answered an advert asking for a volunteer to visualize a training session on building self-esteem and improving mental health for women who are sexually exploited in Nepal. I wondered if graphic facilitation may be useful in this context and explained a bit about what I could offer.  An artist also volunteered.  The plan provided to us is we will have three training sessions on different topics related to improving mental health and well-being with leaders from different sex-trade networks.  After each session, the facilitator will debrief with the women on key lessons they learned and the women will then share these with their networks.  An 8.5×11 visual aid will then be drawn, photocopied and provided to each women to take home. All women will be given a meal at the end to encourage their attendance, staying for the full session and waiting for their photocopy to remind them of what they learned.

Today we met for the first time to do a test run of a session with staff from the NGO which works with the women. The researcher and a translator ran the session simulating what we would be going through with the women in the future.  Overall, it was a huge learning experience for me as a graphic facilitator in terms of cross-cultural communications, setting, expectations, and adapting to new environments and circumstances.  A few photos are posted as I probably won’t be able to take photos of the real group. Here are a few of the things that stood out for me today:

  1. As someone who mainly works in environment and development, working on a social issue, particularly around the exploitation of women and girls, is a giant leap.  It is a difficult and sad subject to wrap my mind around.  The NGO is also a shelter for women so arriving there and seeing women and children hanging out, and knowing their situation, made everything very real.  It was a welcoming environment and I was glad to take the leap.

    A welcoming group in Kathmandu, Nepal.

    A welcoming group in Kathmandu, Nepal.

  2. The room we were working in was much smaller than most rooms I give workshops in.  It had pillows on the floor for sitting and most walls had windows with bars or shelving.  It was not yet clear if we would be drawing on small paper in our lap or on the wall.  My preference was the wall as I think there is value in people seeing their contributions being drawn in the moment for them.  Still, the ‘real estate’ was tight and we ended up using the back of a door and an adjacent wall.

    Facilitator provided an overview of the training to staff during our 'test-run'.

    Facilitator provided an overview of the training to staff during our ‘test-run’.

  3. Working side by side at the wall (on fairly small paper).

    Working side by side at the wall (on fairly small paper).

  4. Given most of the women are illiterate and furthermore I don’t speak Nepali, we were asked to draw without words.  It was kind of like doing a repetitive icon jam and it was challenging to tie it together without a title or way to connect things.  I uses arrows in some cases but I don’t think they had the same meaning as in my own culture (more on this in the next point). While its good practice to not use words, I think my artifacts tend to make more sense with a few words.
  5. It’s quite amazing to learn how people interpret the images.  This can be both positive and negative.  One of the key points was around meditation and spoke to how we clean our clothes, dishes and bodies every day and we also need to clean our minds.  I drew a sun drying clothes on a line.  I didn’t think much about it however one woman interpreted it as the sun shining equally on all clothes.  It was a beautiful thought.  Another point talked about how women are often regarded as less than men and we need to change that.  I drew a women hunched over, looking down and a man standing tall over her.  I put a big red x over it.  This turned out to be a cultural faux pas.  A woman shared that in this culture men bless their women at their feet and thus I was putting an x over a cultural norm.  Wow!  I didn’t mean to do that.  Thankfully this was a test run.

    Interpreting the images after the discussion.

    Interpreting the images after the discussion.

  6. Much of the training went back and forth with a negative idea and turning it around to be positive (i.e. women are not treated equal but let’s change that).  My drawings tended to show the negative and the positive, usually connected by an arrow or indicated by a check mark.  However, the take home messages would be much simpler with a few key positive messages.  My colleague, the artist, chose to draw only the positive images and it created less confusion for the staff who later gave their interpretations of the drawings.  For the future, it was agreed that less is more and positive is better than negative when the topic is about increasing self-esteem!
  7. What’s next?  We still aren’t sure how to run the actual session as there is a strong desire to keep it simple, brief, yet also acknowledge the voices of the women.  The general plan is to:
  • Provide the overview talk (speaker).
  • Debrief with the women on their main learning (facilitator).
  • Draw the main learnings while the women are speaking (me and the artist).  To keep it simple only draw the positive images.
  • Have the women agree on their three top learnings to share with their networks.
  • Agree on which images represent those learnings the most.
  • Redraw the key images on a small sheet of paper for photocopying (while they eat).

The artist and I still need to figure out how to work together, especially if we are going to be producing a small sheet of paper.  She is very talented and I really think this image she created sums up the main messages of today’s training in one synthesis image.

Adi (the artist's) image of cleaning inside and out.  I think this sums up the training quite well!

Adi (the artist’s) image of cleaning inside and out. I think this sums up the training quite well!

We will get together before the next training and see if we can come up with a better strategy than today where we basically stood side by side and drew what made sense to us but had no real relation to each other. We have three trainings in total so we can revise after the first one based on how it goes and the feedback from the women.

All in all, it has been a very new and interesting application of graphic facilitation for me.  I will keep you posted on how the real session goes. If you have ideas or input, please share as we still have time to adapt the process.

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Wow!

Wow!

IMG_0239 - Version 2

This is a spring person – good for illustrating energy, fun and youthfulness!

That is how I felt after doing two graphic facilitation workshops back to back.  It’s been about two weeks but I’m still feeling all the positive vibes that the workshops brought on.  I’m not sure exactly what it is but whenever we (my co-facilitator Nancy) and I bring a group together (often people who don’t know each other), and put markers in their hands – the energy explodes and people seem to be on fire (in a good way).

ICANDRAW_Bold

We worked with over forty people from around B.C., Alberta, and the U.S.A. between the venues of Rossland (aka Rosviz) and Vancouver (UBC viz).

At UBCviz, we were asked how does the planning process work, so we drew it out at the workshop.  Unfortunately the image is a little blurry (possibly a metaphor for our planning process?).

M&N process

In a nutshell, we put our brains together, use online platforms to help us communicate face-to-face and with our notes, take the information back to our offices and process it individually and then come together again (and again and again) until we come up with a flow that works.  In the moment, we check in, adapt and usually improvise!

So, once the planning is done, what actually happens?  Well, thanks to Joseph Topo from UBCviz I can offer you this visual summary he created after the workshop.

day1_AM day1_pm day2_am

That covers the first 1.5 days.  The last half of day two isn’t drawn yet so in the meantime, a quick summary is that we spend most of the afternoon doing collective visual harvests of what we learned.  These are artefacts that help document what people remember from the workshop and want to recall in the future.  In small groups, people rotate between three harvest stations (the type of stations change year to year).  This year we had  “create a book”, “large visual harvest wall”, and “create a template” stations.  We finish with a visual evaluation.

Here are some photos of the harvest walls (1 from Rosviz and 2 from UBCviz):

Harvest Wall Rosviz Harvest Wall Van Harvest Wall Van2

And some additional photos that capture the essence of the workshops:

Getting started with visual introductions.

Getting started with visual introductions.

Warming up with circles and lines.

Warming up with circles and lines.

We had lovely windows and views of the trees at UBC viz

We had lovely windows and views of the trees at UBC viz

Day 1 visual agenda by Nancy White.  Day 2 agenda pic is MIA :-(

Day 1 visual agenda by Nancy White. Day 2 agenda pic is MIA 😦

Process facilitator Amanda Fenton visually planning a future meeting.

Process facilitator Amanda Fenton visually planning a future meeting.

Eating out in Rossland - The Alpine Grind!

Eating out in Rossland – The Alpine Grind!

Assisting a facilitation challenge using the Samoan Circle.

Assisting a facilitation challenge using the Samoan Circle.

We added portable walls in Vancouver to make space for more drawing!

We added portable walls in Vancouver to make space for more drawing!

Nancy debriefing the circle.  I love that we have no tables and no people hiding behind laptops!

Nancy debriefing the circle. I love that we have no tables and no people hiding behind laptops!

Rosviz13

Rosviz13

My 10 month old baby made a guest appearance.

The two guys in my life making a guest appearance.

For the full set of photos you can search rosviz on Flickr or follow this link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/rosviz/

So, two weeks later, how am I feeling?  Inspired!

These workshops were the first face-to-face  meetings I had since giving birth to my son 10 months ago.  I was a little nervous going in however the people were kind, my co-facilitator was generous and my husband took great care of Ira which provided me the freedom to do what I love.

Thank you to those who participated and I invite anyone who hasn’t experienced this workshop yet to join us in 2014.  Date and location are not fixed, so drop a line and let me know what you would like to see!

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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:

Image

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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