As you can see from this blog, I prefer to work visually. One way is through sketching, but another is through contextual frames. I am in the process of creating a tool that will help plan educational/design workshops as part of my Master thesis at the IT university. Creating a “workshop canvas” is an idea I have had for a while, and I will present it here officially when I have handed in my thesis in December.
My problem statement is the following:
“Through looking at how established and talented people plan and facilitate workshops at some of the biggest design conferences in Denmark, I will attempt to create a toolkit for people with little or no experience to be able to plan big scale collaborative workshops effectively.”
The featured image is of David Sibbet (image from this page).
An increasing number of books exists on the topic of Visual Facilitation, usually actively focusing on the sub practice of Graphic Facilitation (GF) or Graphic Recording from different practitioners point of view, outlining and sometimes even teaching their process based on personal experience. This is an overview of some of these books I have read (and based my short academic paper on). I will update the list, as I read more books about the subject.
David Sibbet, is one of the most internationally well known practitioners of GF, with more than 30 years of experience. His definition of his job with GF is “…using graphics to facilitate group communication” (Sibbet, 2008). According to Sibbet, GF has the ability to engage people, move people to big picture thinking as well as help them remember better. He refers to the sketch artifact created during this GF session as a “publicly-validated group memory” (Sibbet, 2008).
Aside from this article, Sibbet has also published a number of howto books I recommend:
Another of the big players in the field is the GF practitioner Christine Valenza, the co-author, with Nancy Margulies, of the award winning book “Visual Thinking; Tools for Mapping Your Ideas.” This book is still on my wishlist.
In 2009 Valenza published a paper together with the illustrator Jan Adkins “Understanding visual thinking”, discussing the historical context, which gave rise to GF in 2009 (Valenza & Adkins, 2009). In their text they mention David Sibbet as a key influencer of the practise, citing him as the creator of the GF style they refer to as the “Big paper approach”, which they are clear advocates of. They go so far as to call the “big-Paper” artifact an additional member of the meeting (Valenza & Adkins, 2009).
That same year David Sibbet published a chapter for a book called “the change handbook” with the aforementioned practitioner Nancy Margulies. In this chapter titled: “Visual recording and graphic facilitation: Helping people see what they mean”, Margulies & Sibbet describe the real-time illustration of words and images used to guide a group to work together and communicate more effectively as both ‘Visual recording’ and ‘graphic facilitation’. The difference between these two sub-categories according to Margulies & Sibbet and is that:
“…people who focus on just recording are called visual or graphic recorders and those who combine facilitation and recording are called graphic facilitators. However, the combinations and variations are rich” (Margulies & Sibbet, 2009).
One of these variations that they point out, is that the practitioners sometimes visualize presentations outside of the group and other times work with a facilitators in front of the room (Margulies & Sibbet, 2009).
Sibbet, Marguiles and Valenca & Adkins all agree that the practices they discuss all contain a social group aspect, and involves creating visuals on a large scale in front of or with a group. This places the practice both within the field of creation of visuals and the practice of facilitating communication in groups.
Margulies, N., & Sibbet, D (2009): Chapter 61 by Margulies, N., & Sibbet, D. from Holman, P., Devane, T., & Cady, S. (2007). The change handbook: The definitive resource on today’s best methods for engaging whole systems. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Link
Sibbet, D. (2008). Visual intelligence: Using the deep patterns of visual language to build cognitive skills. Theory Into Practice, 47(2), 118–127. doi:10.1080/00405840801992306 Link
Rohde, Mike (2012). The Sketchnote Handbook: the illustrated guide to visual note taking, Peachpit Press.
Valenza, C., & Adkins, J. (2009). TIMELINES Understanding visual thinking. interactions, 16(4), 38. doi:10.1145/1551986.1551994 Link
Where do I start?
I have created this blog as a way of nudging myself to document working with and learning sketchnoting & other types of visual thinking, expanding my playground for working with UX and the design process.
In order to get off to a good start, I chose to do an individual paper as part of my masters degree on the subject of Graphic facilitation. During my research I discovered that sketchnoting (which I have practiced for over 2 years) is just one of many sub-practises that have emerged, from the overall practise of a field called Visual Facilitation. The more I read about the overall practice of Visual Facilitation, the more confused I got, by all the overlapping definitions and subcategories with similar names, but slightly conflicting definitions.
I am used to a practical approach, so it was really good for me to be forced to look at such a practical field from an academic angle, and research it in a structured way. Although the paper I wrote is academic in nature, my findings can be put to practical use. I will post some of these findings along the way on my blog, combined with documenting my continuous journey in learning sketchnotes and giving tips and tricks how to start practicing yourself.