PreRamble: I am always on the lookout for new/different approaches to articulation of ideas, both as a matter of keen interest, and, as a way to better define my own work. The following is based on a post written by prolific blogger and fellow visual thinker Chuck Frey on the business uses for “Graphic Facilitation” (described as a person capturing key points of a group discussion with simple pictures and shapes drawn on a whiteboard).
If I am understanding Chuck’s characterization correctly, Graphic Facilitation is an in-the-room way of sketching up a scenario based on discussion and information solicited from a group of stakeholders — Think giant editorial cartoon.
In contrast, my Strategic Overview Platform is not so much a “picture” as it is groupings of mission driven operational details, facts, thoughts, perspectives, assumptions, goals, outcomes, etc. … based on discussion and information solicited from a group of stakeholders — Think mash-up of chart and mind-map.
While the style and focus of the two approaches differ, they both have the same foundational purpose and can be used to accomplish many of the same business objectives. Both are powerful tools that can “help teams gain clarity, make better decisions, and take productive action on challenges and opportunities.” As Chuck asserts,
“By making ideas and information tangible, [visual thinking] helps teams build shared understanding and consensus, see connections, and identify new opportunities and possibilities that previously weren’t [accessible] to the group.”
Peter Durand, founder and CEO of Alphachimp Learning Systems, another variation on drawing based concept articulation, built out the topic suggesting “20 incredibly useful applications for this type of visual thinking”:
- Visual introduction (as individual, team, company, project)
- State of the union (current projects, successes and challenges)
- Product development (brainstorming, market assessment, customer cases)
- Project/product/company roadmap
- Vision or mission for a small company
- Visual synthesis of any meeting
- Conflict resolution and negotiations
- Visual project management
- User requirements (gathering, categorizing, relating)
- Scenario planning (“What If?” storyboards)
- Risk assessment (beyond SWOT)
- Backcasting (X years from now, how did we get here?)
- Modeling (drawing out all parts, players, inputs, and outputs)
- Rapid prototyping (iterate versions of product/project)
- Timelines (parallel tracks for technology, society, science, politics)
- Process diagrams (sales, production, procurement, deployment)
- Mapping (goals, roadblocks, accelerators, challenges, milestones)
- Network diagram (people, projects, products, places)
- A day in the life (of a customer, consumer, employee, leader, competitor)
- Metaphorical thinking (our market/company as a coral reef, farm, city or jungle)
The Take-Away: Thanks Chuck and Peter, for drawing upon your expertise to provide this very useful drill-down on the practical value and application of visual thinking methodologies.