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Draw to create meaning

Many people believe that they cannot draw, and that might stop them from even trying.  When using graphics in a business context it’s not really about the drawing – it’s all about the meaning.  In a session the other day, a participant shared a story of their dog, Benji, using it as a metaphor for engagement.  I couldn’t draw a dog in the moment, so I just put down 2 circles, 4 legs and a tail and titled it “Benji”.  It was silly (which made it memorable) but most importantly:  it was good enough for the meaning to be clear. So, my encouragement to you is to just start drawing.  Don’t let a misguided belief that you have to be Picasso stop you from creating meaning.

Drawing skills: How to draw a journey

The metaphor of a journey is a powerful one.  Use questions like “where are we now?”, “where do we want to be?” and “how will we get there?” to facilitate a team discussion on change, vision and goals.  Guiding principles in the format of a compass (our true North) helps teams to define the behaviours that will support their journey.

Make contracting more impactful
As a facilitator, contracting with a group is a critical part of establishing the relationship.  It allows all parties to clarify their expectations and agree on ways to behave.  These agreed guidelines on acceptable behaviour allows both the facilitator and the group to keep members honest – it is often used to “call out” behaviour that is not acceptable.  It also allows the group to recognise members who demonstrate positive behaviour and acknowledge that.

To make contracting more impactful, I use a visual approach.  Rather than just writing bullet points, start by writing “Guidelines” in the middle of a flip chart, and ask the group for behaviours that they’d like to include.  Write down what they say and ask the group what a picture would look like to describe that behaviour.  If that sounds too daunting, think about this:  most groups come up with the same rules, don’t they?  Be present, be respectful, listen, switch off cell phones – the list doesn’t really change much.  Prepare pictures for all these and use them when the group highlights them.  As facilitator you can also offer a couple of suggestions.  Refer to the examples below for inspiration.

A word of caution, though:  I did this with a group of students and they kept on adding more and more rules just to see what I would draw!  But it’s a testament to how engaging it is.
Try it at your next session

Training coming up
“Introduction to Graphic Facilitation”
The next course dates are 20 July and 23 August 2018 in Johannesburg.
Learn how to draw pictures in the moment to increase engagement and retention.

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