By José Luis Anzizar, Graphic Facilitator with an introduction by Ian Hirst, Greenbank CEO
In November, we were running a Sales Leadership workshop in Brazil with 21 motivated, enthusiastic salespeople and leaders from across South America – the LatAm leg of a regular 5-day programme that we run with a wonderful client of ours. For this workshop, we were partnering with a good friend and colleague Jose Luis Anzizar, whose excellent leadership development skills were matched only by his ability to speak fluent Spanish, Portuguese and English!
I’d previously heard that Jose Luis was also an artist and in a creative moment a month previously, Judith (my wife and business partner) had a interesting idea – “maybe we could ask Jose Luis to create some ‘real-time’ artwork based on the programme themes and use it both as a recap of each day and a tool to sustain learning?”
We are always looking for ways to develop creativity in our programmes and one Skype call later, we were all set – in fact Jose Luis embraced the idea enthusiastically – as a qualified graphic facilitator, he actively seeks these opportunities out.
To cut a long story short, the project was huge success – we gradually built a whole mural of colourful, creative artwork – a mixture of drawing and key learning points. Participants took photos each morning and it was a highly impressive sight for the Exec Team who joined us for the programme recap on Friday….
There were a number of real benefits from the exercise – it created a real ‘buzz’ during the programme, it recapped the material from the previous day and will be a powerful tool on the client’s own website – to both promote the programme and remind alumni of the main learning points.
I asked Jose Luis to share his thoughts and spread the graphic facilitation experience and his short blog article is below. I hope you find it interesting and let me know if you would like to learn more!
Article by Jose Luis Anzizar
Imagine a meeting where all the issues, debates, solutions or decisions that you and your team are discussing get captured, as you speak, in a large visual piece (about 3 meters wide by 1.40 meters tall) where you can easily identify each moment, what was said, agreed or argued.
Or even better! Imagine a workshop where what is being said, and projected and practiced, gets summarized in a visual element which, at the end of the programme, participants will receive a digital image by e-mail or any device you decide, to be inspired by, again and again, any time they need a reminder.
Now… stop imagining! And welcome to Graphic Facilitation, a dynamic, spectacular and truly enlightening methodology to record meetings, events, classes, seminars, workshops, conferences or lectures as they happen, by translating complex ideas into words and pictures.
The definition I like most was given by Brandy Agerbeck, author of the wonderful book, The Graphic Facilitator´s Guide.
“Graphic Facilitation is serving a group by writing and drawing their conversation live and large to help them do their work.”
The reason why this tool is so powerful and useful is because people feel heard (and we all like that, right?), invested in the process and able to see and touch their work (you remember best what you’ve created yourself).
Studies show that people learn better when information is accompanied with visuals, and this happens because we think in pictures, not just words (and definitely not in Excel charts or Powerpoint graphs!). Graphic Facilitation is a great tool for strategic planning, creating a memorable vision, critical thinking, problem solving, and even one-to-one coaching sessions, among other uses.
Let me share an example, as part of a leadership programme delivered by our partners, Greenbank, in Sao Paulo, Brazil last month, one session focused on Win-Win Negotiations. Whilst the group was having their conversations, I ‘mapped’ it. Essentially, I drew a big mural that captured what was being said, showing key themes and connections between ideas. Here are the results from the session:
You really understand the powerful impact of Graphic Facilitation when people start taking pictures of your drawing as soon as the session has finished. Or when they start asking: “Will we get a copy of this drawing”? That is what we call “the WOW factor”.
Once, a participant approached me, looked at what I was doing and said: “This is not about drawing. This is about capturing the essence of what is being said and creating a visual flow, right?” Boy was I happy!
What makes a Graphic Facilitator?
By now, you must be questioning “but… who does this thing?” Well, let me introduce you to the Graphic Facilitator (GF). A GF is somebody who has great listening skills, legible and reasonably strong penmanship, perfect spelling (OK maybe one or two mistakes show we are human!), a great ability to read the group dynamics, to use color, lines and iconography to depict what is being said, the ability to organize the ideas as they are being said, quickly capturing the essence and… Using Brandy Agerbeck´s words: The Graphic Facilitator is the person mapping the meeting.
Alphachimp, a visual problem-solving company from Nashville, Tennessee, recorded a very short video, which I recommend watching if you want a fun and short history of Graphic Facilitation. They say that, as corny as it sounds, graphic facilitation could be called the world’s second oldest profession: telling stories and making pictures. You can watch it clicking here: http://youtu.be/w2JuqfrsVhM.
On a more serious note, Harvard Business Review published an article in the September 2010 issue called “Vision Statement. Tired of Powerpoint? Try this instead” by Daniel McGinn, stating that “Graphic Facilitation has been around since at least the 1970s, when it was popularized by a group of San Francisco architects. It’s grown lately, driven in large part by PowerPoint fatigue.”
And I do know that, by now, you must be thinking “but… where are these guys?” Well, it is true that we are not many, but we are everywhere, and growing. Even though it is hard to predict the number of us Graphic Facilitating and Recording live, there is a rough estimate of 1,000 professionals around the globe. You can easily find us at The International Forum of Visual Practitioners (www.ifvpcommunity.ning.com) or at The Center for Graphic Facilitation (www.graphicfacilitation.blogs.com). Both have worldwide listings and both are worth reading to find out more about this topic.
Several companies around the globe are using Graphic Facilitation, among them HP, Dell, ESPN, Google, Lego, NASA, Ogilvy, S.C. Johnson, Charles Schwab, NSG Pilkington, Johnson & Johnson, Apple, Nike and Kraft Foods.
The GF’s main skill is not the ability of drawing (maybe drawing is the least important one). We need to listen (listen very well) and then synthesize. We capture the words said first (not our interpretation) and then the imagery. We do not speak. We might speak, only and occasionally if we need to clarify a question. We do not need to know the industry of the customer. A brief of the contents previous to the meeting is always useful, but not mandatory. Finally, we prefer to work in the front of the room (front left), so participants can follow what we do and feel engaged in the creative process.
Graphic Facilitation can make your meetings and workshops shine – making them more powerful and memorable in ways you may never have thought possible.
So – are you ready to give it a try?
Jose Luis Anzizar is based in Buenos Aires and works globally. He is both a talented GF and Leadership Development Consultant working fluently in Spanish, Portuguese and English.
See more of his work at www.anzizar.com.ar