How to solve problems using visual thinking

How to solve problems using visual thinking

Ever feel stuck?

Simple drawings are a powerful tool to shift us from a feeling of inertia to one of clarity and control.

If you’re grappling with a problem and haven’t been able to settle on a solution try drawing it out.

By simply drawing out the who, what, when and where of your problem you will soon start to see aspects you hadn’t considered till now. This act of putting pen to paper, of thinking visually allows for new ideas to form and solutions to emerge.

Want to take it further? Here’s your step by step guide (with thanks to David Sibbet):

1.      Focus the issue – who, what, when, where
2.      Start brainstorming solutions – one idea per post-it
3.      Group the notes and label the headings
4.      Discuss each proposal
5.      Vote on the most promising
6.      Discuss top three – pros/cons of each option.
7.      Make decision

This becomes particularly powerful when we start working as a group to solve problems and several ideas emerge.

Solving problems as a group and not sure everyone has bought into the decision? Tune in next week for a quick technique that tests this and ensures everyone is on the same page.

To tap into your creative problem solving skills don’t forget to book onto next week’s Secrets of Simple Graphics course on April 26th 2019 Book now >>

Three fun ways to colour in quickly

Three fun ways to colour in quickly

You know those colouring in books that are really popular at the moment? The mindfulness ones with the intricate designs?

Well I’ve thought about getting one.

However the truth is…everytime I think about it another part of me wants to get out my biggest fattest chunkiest marker and scribble like crazy all over the beautiful designs.

There, I’ve said it.

When it comes to graphics, and especially when it comes to working live with a group, we can’t afford the luxury of painstakingly perfect colouring in. After all, we’re there to serve the group, not our artistic egos.

Here are some fun ways to colour in quickly – with each method colouring in can be done behind or around the image (often quicker) or inside the image.

1. Crosshatching

Crosshatching is a pattern. Here are some other patterns you can try:

patterns

2. Chalk pastels  – this is messy, fast and fun.

chalk paint

3. Shading – I like to use grey for shading (think: where is the sun coming from? and then you’ll know where to shade. For example if the sun is in the top right corner your shading will be left and bottom); other colours are just as effective.

shading

I hope you enjoy these tips. Don’t forget to check out the open courses page for the next Secrets of Simple Graphics date.

Graphic templates for meetings

Ever been to a meeting where you didn’t quite know what was going on?

Of if you did, you weren’t quite sure what actions were agreed?

Have you ever turned up to a large meeting not knowing exactly who was in the room?

Or perhaps you’ve had excellent, productive meetings only to forget what was said the next day.

Using a graphic template for your meeting is a great way to ensure clarity, comprehension and direction. It also helps to save time and increase efficiency, reducing the need for repetition.

After all meetings are expensive – it’s so important to make the most of the time spent in the room (or indeed virtually).

All you need to do is think of the key elements of any meeting.

In his excellent book, Visual Meetings, David Sibbet claims that the two things foremost in peoples’ minds when they go into a meeting is, ‘Who’s who in the room?’ and ‘What’s the purpose of this meeting?’, so that’s a good place to start.

Other elements may include:
– Agenda items
– Ground Rules
– Outcomes
– Agreed actions
etc.

Decide on an overall theme or metaphor and add simple graphics to make your template come to life.

Above is a digital mock up of a graphic template I used recently, based on ideas from The Grove Consultants.

What kind of graphic template would work for your meetings?

P.S. Places are already going fast for the next Secrets of Simple Graphics course on April 26th 2019. Secure your place now.

Case study: Graphics and social innovation

Case study: Graphics and social innovation

I’d like to introduce you to Jenni Inglis, MDes, MSc, FRSA. Jenni is Director of VIE (for Life) Ltd. VIE enables social purpose organisations to better involve their stakeholders in design and evaluation of initiatives in order to create more positive change. Jenni attended Secrets of Simple of Graphics back in January 2017.  Read about her experience – her reasons for attending the training, how she’s using graphics in her work now and what she has to say to people who are thinking about learning this skill.

CONTEXT

Before Jenni attended Secrets of Simple Graphics in January 2017 she already used some graphics in her work as a facilitator. However she only used graphics she had prepared beforehand. Jenni felt this was limiting what she was doing. She has recently found herself working more and more with groups of people who might not get the most from spoken and written English. She felt that an increased use of graphics would help in these settings. The introduction session in the training helped Jenni to realise that she actually wanted to become more fluent in graphics, so that she could use them more spontaneously and draw graphics live in front of people.

SOLUTION

Jenni found the training to be great practice in drawing graphics live in front of people. She thought it very well structured and full of tips and tools to improve the way she uses graphics. It enabled her to explore the use of graphics in different ways that she had not previously thought of (e.g. the difference between graphic recording and graphic facilitation) and to identify stretch targets for herself.

IMPACT

As Jenni says, ‘At the end of the course I had really caught the bug, in a good way!’. Jenni decided that she wanted to use graphics all the time in all her work – in presentations, in templates for individuals and groups, in capturing what people say, and when training – so that she could really become fluent, just like learning any language.  She gets a lot of positive feedback and the individuals and groups she works with are more engaged. To someone who is considering going on the training, Jenni says, ‘Do it! You’ll have a great day and learn a lot about how you can make your work more engaging through graphics.’ See below for a sample of Jenni’s work!              

Keen to catch the bug yourself? Book your place now for Secrets of Simple Graphics April 26th 2019

Three quick cheats for drawing live

Three quick cheats for drawing live

The day of reckoning has arrived.

You’ve had some training in graphics and you’re determined to put your new skills into practice. You may have offered to take visual minutes at the next team meeting or to create a visual record of a planning session – whatever commitment you’ve made now’s the time to jump out of your comfort zone and take the plunge with live drawing.

Here are a few tips to help you out on the day.

1. Draw your title in advance.

Lettering can be tricky, especially when you’re feeling nervous, and particularly if you’re not used to writing and drawing large scale. Spelling mistakes are common. Give yourself the best start by writing your title out in advance. Add a simple graphic and the date, and you’re good to go. (Tip: Sketch out your lettering in pencil and/or draw pencil lines with a ruler to keep it straight)

2. Sketch a large drawing just before the event starts

You can kick off your recording by choosing a landscap format to begin with. With a landscap format there is a large sketch on your page which then becomes surrounded by the key nuggets you are recording e.g. bullet points of text and smaller sketches. Your large sketch can be related to the theme of the event or can represent the internal or external landscape – how the room is set up or any significant buildings or features outside the room. Doing this early on (you can always copy your drawing from a smaller sketch you make on your note pad) helps to build confidence and take away the often intimidating feeling of facing a (very large!) blank page.

3. Keep your icon library at your feet

Prepare an icon library (bank of images) in advance that is specific to your event. Research themes and topics that may emerge on the day. Bring this with you and keep it at your feet. That way if you get stuck on what to draw reach down and have a quick look through your icon library for ideas.

Remember this is your gig. Do what you need to do to feel calm and in control. Making peace with your nerves is a good first step. It’s natural to be nervous; it’s a sign that you care. Breathe through your nerves instead of fighting them and you’ll feel a lot calmer.

Good luck and if you need a debrief afterwards feel free to drop me a line!

Er…graphic what?

Er…graphic what?

‘Well, we were calling it Graphic Communication Skills but then someone said that was a bit rude…’

I was speaking to a client about an upcoming series of workshops and I could understand her plight.

With so many different words used in the industry – graphic communication, visual thinking, graphic facilitation, graphic recording, sketchnoting, visual planning etc – where do you begin?

Here’s a breakdown of the most used terminology so that when you’re talking about it, at least you know what you mean.

Graphics – graphics simply describes a combination of simple images and words to convey meaning.

Graphic Facilitation – this describes the facilitation of a process (strategic visioning forexample) using a graphic template. The facilitator is co-creating with the group. Visual Facilitation is the same thing.

Graphic Recording – this describes real time recording of a talk (for example) using simple images and words. The graphic recorder does not engage with the group. He/she is off to one side listening to what is being said. Sketchnoting is the same thing but done on a smaller scale, on a sketchpad.

Many people get confused between graphic recording and graphic facilitation. I often get enquiries for a graphic facilitator when the client really wants a graphic recorder.

Visual Thinking simply describes thinking and working in visuals. Because there is a naturally an element of communication in all aspects of this work the term visual communication is also often used.

In Secrets of Simple Graphics I go into more detail about the differences (as well as introducing custom illustration and graphic coaching), and we get to practice both graphic recording and graphic facilitation in a fun and safe environment.

The next date is September 5th. Book your place here.