Graphic Facilitation

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. – Confucius

Imagine the setting of a senior leadership workshop. Conversations in such workshops are often like different rivulets that split away from the main river to join back again, downstream. Ideas, debates, thoughts and agreements flow thick and fast. By the end of the day, important outcomes are often reached. However here is the challenge: Sometimes it becomes important for senior teams to share with their teams below on how certain decisions were reached. How could this be done?

Here is another situation: A group of senior leaders and managers are deep in conversation to create something new. Words alone can sometimes be very restrictive in suffusing energy to a discussion. After all, 80% of people are visual learners. Being able to see how the parts connect to the whole, brings a burst of creative energy and initiates rich, evocative conversations in teams. But how could this be done?

Enter – Graphic Facilitation.

Graphic Facilitation is a facilitation method that uses a visual approach to help people SEE their thoughts, communicate and make decisions. Graphic Facilitation is more than just ‘pretty pictures’ - it is a sophisticated thinking tool to help groups talk, brainstorm, analyse, dialogue, resolve conflict, reach consensus and move forward.

So how is it done?

Graphic Facilitation uses large, wall-size sheets of paper within seeing and hearing distance of participants. A room with plenty of smooth, undivided wall space is needed, within seeing and hearing distance of participants.

Depending on the process, some charts are pre-prepared and others are created real-time using the group’s input. So what are the key benefits of Graphic Facilitation?

1) Gets everyone on the same page - Think of business deals hashed out over a paper napkin or team members huddled around a whiteboard. Our brains can only hold so much information … getting our thinking out of our heads and onto paper increases understanding of concepts and agreements and literally gets everyone onto the same page. Graphic Facilitation does the same thing, only with much larger groups!

2) Elegantly handles different points of view - Got a group with lots of different views? Use Graphic Facilitation to get everyone’s thinking out and up onto paper. When people see their views in print, they feel heard and acknowledged. And they can literally SEE what others are saying too. This technique creates a neutral entity (the chart!) to hold the hot spots. Get people tackling the issues through the chart, not each other! Increases the Level of Dialogue … Quicker!

Human brains can only handle about 7 pieces of information before overload kicks in. The large charts hold information for a group – allowing them to develop shared meaning and to deal with higher levels of complexity – quicker. In building the charts together, they all share the same understandings and basic landscape of their problem - freeing them up to debate recommendations and find solutions.

3) Involves all the major learning styles - Working graphically is obviously helpful for people who process information visually. However this methodology also works for auditory and kinaesthetic learners too. Especially when break out groups create their own materials and use them to present their ideas to each other. Then all of the learning styles get used simultaneously – results in meetings that hold the attention of all people, not just a selected few.

So where should you be using Graphic Facilitation?

In reality, any meeting that requires facilitation could use graphic facilitation. But below are some of the most popular scenarios in our experience, where it is used.

• Planning and visioning forums
• Leadership retreats
• Scenario planning
• Focus groups
• Brainstorming sessions

Here is a sample of how the final output from one of our older workshops looked like:

Contact us today - we will be glad to meet up and discuss the possibilities for your team!