Providing people with the opportunity to stand back and see their collective ideas during a conference workshop is important. One way to achieve this is by using creative posters that are drawn beforehand as templates. They are then used as a recording tool during the session allowing participants to capture their critical thinking.
Mirella Di Genua (a facilitator, stakeholder engagement and change management specialist), with whom I work regularly and highly recommend, recently facilitated a preconference workshop to explore how to better integrate community/stakeholder engagement in policy development. The conference was called ‘Community Engagement in Policy Development’ held in Melbourne in late February. Mirella tasked me with preparing some posters that she could use during her workshop.
The aim of the facilitation process was to identify with the participants:
- the edgy and top of mind questions that brought them to the conference;
- their views around community engagement in Policy Development;
- ways to explore the barriers and opportunities for engagement; and
- a vision and preliminary framework for greater community engagement.
As the workshop was highly participatory it provided the participants with a heightened focus for conference learning and facilitated the creation of relationships through the sharing experiences in the workshop.
Here are some of my posters beforehand and in use during the workshop (with some close ups to show some creative detail).
The Outcomes/Agenda/Roles (OAR) poster - beforehand
The OAR poster: full with workshop thoughts and ideas
A large poster to capture workshop questions
Afterwards: the poster full with questions using coloured post-it notes
Blank poster to capture ideas on vision integration
Completed vision integration poster full of ideas and colour
Poster detail: outcomes
Poster detail: outcomes, roles, working together
Visioning poster detail: image to represent 'setting the course'
Visioning poster detail: image for leadership/direction
Questioning poster: image to show people in a Q&A process
Increasing ROI for participants by charting ideas as they are said
In mid December, I spent a day graphic recording The Nous Group’s company strategy day at the Arts Centre, Melbourne. The Nous Group is one of Australia’s fastest growing management consultancies with expertise in strategy and public policy, leadership and management development, organisational and information driven change and information management and knowledge sharing.
My role was to capture the conversation from the day’s sessions on large-scale posters using images, sketches, words and colour so that the team could ‘stand back’ and ‘see’ what they had been talking about – and therefore start to visualise business ideas, opportunities and challenges for the year ahead.
I completed three large posters (5m x 1.25m) that provided a ‘big picture’ overview of ‘what was said as it was said and how it was said’ which The Nous Group team will use as one tool to help plan their future direction and priorities in 2010.
I also spent time roving and listening to their break-out workshops to capture the key points from each session.
In terms of ROI, my graphic recording posters (and subsequent report with digital photos) delivered participants a record of the sessions that they could interact and engage with on the day and in future. The posters will be used as a reference point at the next The Nous Group strategy day and currently hang on the walls of The Nous Group offices to act as a ‘daily reminder’ of the ground covered in the session.
What I really liked about the day (and company) was the high-level of engagement from The Nous Group team, the flow of ideas and conversation as well as the ability to speak openly about themselves as an organisation. This created a rich flow of information which I could convert into images, colour and visuals in my graphic recording posters.
Standing back to see the bigger picture: poster size (5m long)
The Nous Group team review & discuss content captured on the posters
Graphic recording uses sketches, images and colour to capture and share critical business ideas
Capturing the conversation as it happens
After about eight hours, working in three rooms, creating five massive posters and listening intently non-stop, I recently wrapped up a great day’s graphic recording at the ‘SPICE it UP!: activities programming for 9-12s’ conference in South West Sydney. SPICE stands for ‘social, physical, intellectual, creativity and emotional’.
‘The 9 – 12’s Project’ is an initiative to enhance activities programming for 9 – 12’s in the Metro South West Sydney Region. A key goal is to improve access to activities that promote positive development for children aged 9 – 12 and I recently created the logo for this fantastic initiative: http://guydownes.com.au/2009/12/logo-design-for-9-12s-kids-activities-programming/
Ideas, themes, thoughts captured in colour - as it happens!
The conference covered topics such as social inclusion and healthy communities, approaches to creative play, innovative approaches to working with 9-12s and plans for 2010. Lots of great content to visually capture.
Largest poster: about 8m long!
My posters are being used in future planning reports as well as being laminated to act as internal communication tools to remind people of the detailed content and conversation on the day.
Poster section in detail: colour, ideas, energy!
Ogilvy PR Central team: brainstorm output posters...before
The success of many communication businesses is also due to the critical people that work behind the scenes. External clients may never see them — but a successful business can’t do without them. For me, this encapsulates the Ogilvy PR Central team in Sydney, which looks after financial strategy, finance, accounts, HR and talent. (disclaimer: I worked at Ogilvy PR for 6 years).
I recently helped the Ogilvy PR Central team, led by Emma Cartwright, to convert key ideas captured from an internal brainstorm on being ‘a trusted advsior’ into a visual poster and framework that the team could see and use everyday in their office.
Ogilvy PR Central team: brainstorm poster template...after
The aim was to create a poster to help the team ’live and breathe’ the outcomes from that brainstorm on a daily basis – as well as creating something more visually compelling than messy old sheets of butchers paper. The final poster was full of visual metaphors and acted as a framework so the team could populate it with ideas and thoughts on a daily basis using post-it notes.
Here’s what Emma said:
“One of the key goals in my department is for each of us to be a “trusted advisor” to our clients – Guy helped to bring this to life for us, turning a bunch of words on some messy documents into a colourful wall poster that captures the spirit of what it takes to be a trusted advisor, and is used every day to celebrate examples of success. He listened so carefully to what it meant to me before translating this into an impactful visual that has pride of place on our wall, with the flexibility to evolve the content over time. Thank you!”
Emma Cartwright, Director, Talent & Finance, Ogilvy PR Australia
Ogilvy PR Central team: poster detail
Ogilvy PR Central team: poster on the wall
Allan Hall graphic recording session: before
A few weeks ago, I was brought in by the team at Allan Hall Business Advisors to run two separate graphic recording/facilitation sessions to help them in the planning stages of a) a new service offering they were considering and b) looking at how to grow and differentiate their general insurance practice. Each session lasted 2-3 hours and my role was to ‘panoramically’ capture the team’s thoughts and ideas around building their business and service using graphic recording techniques of colour, words and images. The process helped them engage, step back from day-to-day business and see the ‘journey’ of their ideas, thoughts and conversation. It also offered the opportunity to see linkage between several key ideas and helped the team get clarity on immediate next steps and actions.
Allan Hall graphic recording session: after
My client identifying key ideas and opportunities during the session
Allan Hall is also my accountant and from where I stand (as a business owner myself, albeit a small one) they’re a great north shore success story - they have been in business for half a century and I can see why. Whenever I go in, the service is professional, attentive yet relaxed. I guess the surf board in their smart reception area sums up this approach nicely.
Allan Hall graphic recording session in full flow
Allan Hall graphic recording: poster detail
Port Stephens Futures Forum: main hall
Working again with the team at Straight Talk, a leading specialist consultancy in community engagement, I was commissioned to create large scale graphic recording style posters that could be used as templates by participants at the Port Stephens Futures Forum. This was a two-day event to discuss the issues impacting on the future of Port Stephens area in May earlier this year.
I created template posters that were re-produced for breakout sessions and workshops; a massive timeline chart (8m x 2m) where people could share what they thought where the main events that had shaped the area; and, among others, a huge ‘Futures Tree’ which allowed participants to comment on what they wanted to see happen to the area in the coming years.
Port Stephens: Futures Tree in action
Port Stephens: massive timeline poster
Port Stephens: individual workshop agenda posters
Port Stephens: 'futures triangle' planning poster
Port Stephens: 'Developing ideas & goals' poster
Port Stephens: 'Futures Tree' (top, approx 6m x 1.5m)
Port Stephens: 'Futures Tree' (base, approx 6m x 1.5m)
Graphic recording: agenda for client session
I developed this visual agenda as an example of a graphic recording tool that can be used during a strategy or facilitation session. The poster size is approximately 4m long x 2m wide. It’s main objective is to create an impactful, themed and eye-catching agenda that the facilitator and, more importantly, the participants can refer to during their session so they can stay focused, stay on track and ultimately ‘see the bigger picture’. This fresh approach injects life and energy into an agenda – an item that can easily become lifeless, dull or simply overlooked.
Airds OutLOUD!: Hip Hop workshop
Airds OutLOUD! was a large scale Housing NSW community renewal event held in Airds, near Campbelltown in July 2009. Straight Talk, a leading specialist consultancy in community engagement (and great team to work with), hired me to graphic record several sessions.
During the event, there were several ‘youth activity hubs’, offering a range of opportunities for kids and young people to get involved, such as Parcour (a physical activity where kids leap on walls and roofs) and Hip Hop. As the young people took part they had conversations with the activity and leaders about what it is like to live in Airds.
Using my graphic recording skills, my brief was to capture the ideas and feelings graphically and visually. It was fast and furious work as things moved quickly. I produced a colourful, engaging record of what young people were thinking. Later, my posters were used for more formal planning exercises where it can be hard to capture and hear the voice of young people.
Airds OutLOUD!: recording the Parcour session
Airds OutLOUD!: completed Parcour poster
Airds OutLOUD!: Hip Hop Graphic Recording detail
BBCi Live Chat Studio launch: main wall design
I worked on the launch of the BBCi Live Chat Studio (The Strand, London) in 2002 and was given the open brief to decorate the inside creative space (which was viewable by passers-by from the street) in a way that would attract attention and illustrate the way the BBC is using technology to inspire a two way connection with its audiences. The wall was approximately 10m long and 3 metres high — I completed the project to a tight deadline (I only had access to the room for 6 hours so really had to plan my design to the Nth degree before cracking open my paint pens and getting busy).
BBCi Live Chat Studio: wall design
BBCi Live Chat Studio: my mess and old coffee cups in view
My challenge was to grasp and communicate some pretty complex ideas across a large space (e.g. interactivity, global communications, varied audiences etc) and in a simple, eye-catching manner. It’s definitely one of the best jobs I have done (and without knowing probably the start of my foray into large scale graphic recording 7 years later). Standing back to look at it after 6 hours of intense work, I got one massive buzz. Sadly, it was wiped off a few days after launch — but that’s life.
BBCi Live Chat Studio: impending deadline but still smiling