After the EuViz conference, I’m more convinced than ever that visual thinking has the power to transform everywhere we learn. In the next month I’m working with first year students, CEOs, and at a public engagement. Visual thinking is valuable because it comes in so many forms – so it makes sense that the theme of impact followed me throughout the conference.
When we talk about impact and visual thinking processes, impact means value – and should be determined by the receiver, not the giver. We know that visual thinking reaches visual learners, helps make connections, is a valuable memory of the event, is engaging and increases creativity. That’s part of the real value, not the graphic recorder/facilitator being “an amazing draw-er” or worse, “the entertainment”!
I do want to make a certain kind of impact in my work, too – and it’s about being of service. My EuViz experience started off as a panelist at the “Graphic Recording 101” session. Their questions were about how to be of service to the room, including listening, tracking information, and being present. Our tips included:
- Stay present
- Listen for content first
- Don’t be afraid to wait before recording
- Follow the group and don’t hold onto any prescribed metaphors too closely
- … and breathe.
I had great conversations about measuring impact in this field. Can we? How can we hold ourselves to our personal best standards? So I was really excited to identify and then co-host an Open Space conversation about reflection and evaluation with Michelle Walker. Our group had a fantastic conversation and there is definitely interest in the visual practitioner community to build capacity in this area. Our quick ideas include:
- guided and critical discussion by participants of the recordings
- building in evaluation of the entire project
- look to other fields for best practices for professional evaluation
- peer-based systems, including peers matched from two different countries
- small group reflection tools (360, discussion series, guided writing)
- designing and participating in different types of feedback between you and the client, and you and the facilitator.
Many of the themes also popped up in the World Cafe with the whole conference (snapshot below) and echoed the facilitated Conversation Series I co-facilitated through IFVP with Jennifer Shepherd. Exciting to see “deep dives into practice” bubble up in different places. The timing is just right.
For me, impact comes from the opportunity to go deeper with the group. As a visual practitioner, we’re there to work along side you to facilitate the desired impact. That could mean using drawing and thinking to go deeper into problem-solving, or brainstorming, or creative processes. That’s the hardest part and also the most fun – and I’ve already marked off July 2015 for the next IFVP conference- here I come, Austin!