entrepreneurship

Here's What Your Design Thinking Process is Missing

Have you ever been invited to participate in or heard about a Design Sprint? Design thinking, design sprints, agile, human-centered design thinking, all of these terms have been popping into my world more often.

As tools used to innovate and spark creativity, if you’re using design thinking but haven’t partnered with a graphic recorder, you’re missing out on huge potential to support your team through visual thinking.

But wait, aren’t design thinking and visual thinking pretty much the same thing? Well, no. But I love this excellent post and illustration from Xplane to see the difference, and where some opportunities exist to infuse visual thinking into design thinking:

xplane-visual-thinking-design-thinking

Have you used any of these tools or strategies? How did it go? What other visual thinking tools are in the top drawer of your toolbox?

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

  Albuquerque, New Mexico:  Returning to support the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force for their Hospitals and Clinics Summit. These practitioners work hard every day to help educate and support new mothers so they can make the healthiest decisions for themselves and their babies.

Albuquerque, New Mexico: Returning to support the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force for their Hospitals and Clinics Summit. These practitioners work hard every day to help educate and support new mothers so they can make the healthiest decisions for themselves and their babies.

  Painting in the Studio:  Not only am I working on filming another  Drawing Connections video  for the National Park Service, I’ve had some time in the past couple of weeks to do some painting for fun. This one of the Nokhu Crags went to the  Samburu Youth Education Fund  Harambe to raise money for education and leadership development for young people in Kenya.  Here’s a post  about why I care so much!   Please  contact me  for inquiries on commissions.

Painting in the Studio: Not only am I working on filming another Drawing Connections video for the National Park Service, I’ve had some time in the past couple of weeks to do some painting for fun. This one of the Nokhu Crags went to the Samburu Youth Education Fund Harambe to raise money for education and leadership development for young people in Kenya. Here’s a post about why I care so much!

Please contact me for inquiries on commissions.

So You Think You Can't Draw. I beg to Differ.

It’s been a crackling fall here at ConverSketch HQ, but I can’t wait to share this with you…the 100th Piano has found it’s way to a final home for the winter in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery! You can find it in the section displaying Fort Collins’ history, and perhaps play a little tune!

karina-branson-100th-piano-about-town-fort-collins

One of the things I often hear when I whip out my markers and start scribing is “I could never draw like that.” I typically fire back the following response: “When was the last time you practiced?”

In anything, talent is certainly a factor, but something I believe many of us write off is the importance of practicing consistently. Would you run a marathon without training? Probably not!

I have never found drawing people to be particularly easy to do, but this year I’ve set out to improve my speed and creativity when drawing more detailed people. I DO love squiggle and bean-shape people  and there’s an enormous amount of information you can convey with even a simple human figure.

And, if you’re interested in learning to draw other things, check out almost any of my blog posts to learn how to do a quick sketch of something new. Don’t see what you want to learn to draw? Shoot me a message to let me know what you’d like to see!

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

   Graphic Facilitation    for the National Snow and Ice Data Center:  NSIDC is a repeat graphic facilitation client who I was delighted to hear has kept their strategic illustration from 2013 up on the walls to remind them of their shared vision, goals and the roadmap to get there.

Graphic Facilitation for the National Snow and Ice Data Center: NSIDC is a repeat graphic facilitation client who I was delighted to hear has kept their strategic illustration from 2013 up on the walls to remind them of their shared vision, goals and the roadmap to get there.



  Technology and Higher Education at Metro State:  Creating a Story Map of the outcomes of a Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium where teams shared prototypes and offered feedback to leverage tech to enhance learning in higher education.

Technology and Higher Education at Metro State: Creating a Story Map of the outcomes of a Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium where teams shared prototypes and offered feedback to leverage tech to enhance learning in higher education.



  Leadership Declarations in Virginia:  A curious challenge posed by this foundation client who wanted to give each participant the visual capture of their personal Leadership Declaration. The challenge? Fellows were leaving immediately following the session and needed to be able to travel with their drawings, so here’s what we came up with!

Leadership Declarations in Virginia: A curious challenge posed by this foundation client who wanted to give each participant the visual capture of their personal Leadership Declaration. The challenge? Fellows were leaving immediately following the session and needed to be able to travel with their drawings, so here’s what we came up with!

  Optics Innovation in Austin:  Thinking critically about what the future could hold and how the eye care industry will navigate a swiftly changing landscape.

Optics Innovation in Austin: Thinking critically about what the future could hold and how the eye care industry will navigate a swiftly changing landscape.

When You Work with ConverSketch, Here’s How You Support Education and Women’s Rights

Jambo rafikis - hello friends!

After two weeks in Kenya, a little Swahili feels good to share!

You know that when you work with ConverSketch, you’re going to get a creative, organized thought partner that will help you make your meetings and storytelling strategies come alive. You know that you’ll get one-of-a-kind, high-quality work and custom solutions tailored to your group’s goals to continue leveraging the charts after the meeting.

But did you know that when you work with me, you’re also investing in the future of some of the most vulnerable (and resilient) populations in the world?

You may have seen I was recently in Samburu, Kenya for a couple of weeks. Each year, I have the honor of co-leading a volunteer trip for students at Colorado State University to the town of Archer’s Post. The students help with service projects selected by our community partners such as building traditional homes or clean water infrastructure. The biggest thing we do is build relationships, especially with Unity Women’s Village and students pursuing secondary education through the Samburu Youth Education Fund (SYEF).

What I’ve learned from these women and youth have is not something I can easily summarize in a few sentences in an email/blog. They are generous, tenacious, ridiculously hard-working, hilarious, compassionate and the strongest humans I’ve ever met. They have shared perspective, instilled appreciation, and ignited a drive to do the best I can with what I was lucky enough to be born into.

If you want to talk in depth about this community and these experiences, let’s get coffee or a beer.

As a business owner, and more importantly a citizen of this planet, it’s always been important to me to give back. That’s why I choose to make contributions through ConverSketch and serve on the SYEF advisory board to support this phenomenal leadership and scholarship non-profit. That’s why I purchase the hand-made beaded jewelry to support the entrepreneurship of the women at Unity Village who are truly making their children’s lives better through their work.

Over the course of seven years, I’ve seen first-hand the positive changes happening in Archer’s Post. The words Monica, of one of the 2017 SYEF graduates at a celebration and knowledge sharing event we had, distill it better than I ever could:

In my culture, it is not allowed for a woman to stand up and speak in front of men. Yet here I am, a woman, standing here in front of you, sharing my ideas.
 Here are the SYEF 2017 graduates and the CSU students in front of a hut they all helped build for an elderly woman. This project was organized by the SYEF graduates, who want to continue to give back to their community. 

Here are the SYEF 2017 graduates and the CSU students in front of a hut they all helped build for an elderly woman. This project was organized by the SYEF graduates, who want to continue to give back to their community. 

Monica is the woman in the center of the photo wearing the white head scarf. You can imagine the deafening applause that followed from all of her peers and the CSU students.  

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support of education and women's rights, your great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Stoked on supporting a woman-owned business that gives back to the global community? Let’s talk about your project.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Of course, I’ve been in Kenya! Here are a couple of photos of this year's trip including a graphic recording of tips for freshman year at high school in Kenya:

 DaVita International Leadership Meeting in Denver  Although I can’t share the full charts I created over the two-day retreat with leaders from around the globe, here’s one nugget that struck me as particularly poignant.

DaVita International Leadership Meeting in Denver

Although I can’t share the full charts I created over the two-day retreat with leaders from around the globe, here’s one nugget that struck me as particularly poignant.

  CSU One Health Datasets Workshop   Today is the second day of the gathering of an interdisciplinary group of researchers, practitioners, veterinarians and doctors figuring out how to most effectively share data

CSU One Health Datasets Workshop

Today is the second day of the gathering of an interdisciplinary group of researchers, practitioners, veterinarians and doctors figuring out how to most effectively share data

The Gift to Give Yourself

Hey folks,

I took the week before Thanksgiving almost completely off. It was glorious and filled with things like mountain biking and great food with friends and family. Returning to work I felt rested and ready for the projects lined up.

That might sound dreamy (and it was), but I found myself struggling with something mildly disturbing, especially the first few days: It was difficult to disengage my Work Brain and stop thinking about projects, emails, and my to-do list.

I’m not alone on this – according to this article in Fortune, more than half of all US employees had unused vacation time in 2016. Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in.

W.T.F?!

Why would we be letting ourselves think this is in any way, shape or form acceptable? Why would we as bosses or co-workers be perpetuating this absurd idea that we cannot allow ourselves time away from our occupations? Especially, when in fact this is completely counterproductive to doing quality work? And yet, there I found myself, on a week off thinking about things I “should” be doing for work.

As a business owner, it’s strangely tempting to not take time off. Even evenings or weekends might seem like a great time to just crank out a couple extra things that have been on my list forever. Especially during the holiday season when it seems like there are a million extra things to do.

So over the next few weeks, I encourage you to take some time for you. Whether that means 2 weeks exploring remote mountain villages, a weekend at some hot springs, or just waking up an hour earlier to get in a work out for your own sanity. Because when I really think about it, balance is imperative to make the most of the gift that is today.

ConverSKETCHes_12_Clock.jpg

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

After you’ve rested and are ready to fire things up again, let’s talk about putting visuals into action for your organization.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Today I’m in Phoenix (or Tempe – it’s hard to say) graphic recording for a senior leadership team at Arizona State University. More to come!

 Last week I had the joy of  graphic facilitating  for the Inter-Agency Mixed-Ownership Abandoned Mine Working Group. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see a group of people actually collaborating across agency and geographic boundaries to improve the health of our watersheds.

Last week I had the joy of graphic facilitating for the Inter-Agency Mixed-Ownership Abandoned Mine Working Group. It’s refreshing and inspiring to see a group of people actually collaborating across agency and geographic boundaries to improve the health of our watersheds.

 I also graphically facilitated a Board Retreat for Trees, Water and People, a non-profit based in Fort Collins that does work to support rural communities across the Americas through sustainable natural resource management, farming, and capacity building.

I also graphically facilitated a Board Retreat for Trees, Water and People, a non-profit based in Fort Collins that does work to support rural communities across the Americas through sustainable natural resource management, farming, and capacity building.

How to Stand Out in A Sea of Booths

The Trade Show. A massive room filled with hundreds of booths, all wanting to lure in the same passers-by.

Most booths are using the same old methods they always have: the freebies, candy, “try our product!” to nab attention. There are trinkets everywhere. By the end of the day all you see is a glazed look on attendees’ faces as they attempt to find the exit (and preferably the nearest bar).

There’s something missing from this scenario. Something that can set you up for authentic connections and hook your potential clients.

Here’s the secret: people don’t just want a sales pitch, they want to be heard. They are yearning for genuine human connection in a sea of people trying to get their business.

Secret Part Deux? You can have it all: listening to your customers, interactive and engaging displays, freebies, and authentic human connection.

All you have to do is partner with a graphic recorder.

I love chatting with attendees, asking for their ideas, and seeing them light up as they watch their story come to life. Then they want a photo with their drawing, which is the perfect opportunity to ask them to tag the business I am working for when they share it on social media. Boom.

Bonus: Major human connection opportunities, and if you play your cards right, you can get valuable market research data collected in real-time.

ConverSketch-learn-to-draw-human-connection

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Heading to a trade show next year? Let’s make a plan to help you stand out in a sea of booths!

Yes!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

 New Orleans with LeadingAge   I spent last weekend outside the National WWII Museum gathering stories about how visitors wanted their lives to be when they got older. From "no regrets" to "aging like a fine wine", I captured visual stories over the two days!

New Orleans with LeadingAge

I spent last weekend outside the National WWII Museum gathering stories about how visitors wanted their lives to be when they got older. From "no regrets" to "aging like a fine wine", I captured visual stories over the two days!

 Nashville with Gates   Today I'm headed to Nashville to do some more story capturing for Gates. We haven't started yet, but here's a snippet from work I did with them earlier this fall!

Nashville with Gates

Today I'm headed to Nashville to do some more story capturing for Gates. We haven't started yet, but here's a snippet from work I did with them earlier this fall!

Avoid this Meeting Pitfall

When everyone is in favor…it’s almost certain there’s confusion over what’s being decided.
— Seth Godin

This quote is the epitome of Seth Godin’s wisdom: pithy, accurate and makes sure to jump-start the reader into critical thinking. It encapsulates a common pitfall for meeting facilitators and organizers: jumping on consensus as full agreement within a group. It’s easy to ride the feel-good wave. It’s easy to take that and move on. However, it’s likely whatever is being decided on will not sustain itself long-term if it’s only buoyed by false agreement.

This is why it’s so important to repeat the goals of the day or activity multiple times. This is why it’s important to take time to cultivate an environment where it’s okay to be vulnerable or to disagree (with curiosity rather than hostility, thank you very much CPD!).

And all this is why bringing in a facilitator can make all the difference in the world when you’ve put resources into bringing your best and brightest into the room for the day, or even the hour. Having someone who asks the potentially uncomfortable questions, who takes a step back and clarifies what’s being decided, is exceptionally valuable.

conversketch-learn-to-draw-confused-face

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Bringing your people together for an important meeting? Let’s talk about how to avoid this pitfall and make some real decisions.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

 AARP  Yep, you read that right! I had the pleasure of capturing stories from volunteers with the AARP at the Denver Botanic Gardens this week. I loved drawing their stories before their eyes and seeing faces light up when they recognized their sketch!

AARP

Yep, you read that right! I had the pleasure of capturing stories from volunteers with the AARP at the Denver Botanic Gardens this week. I loved drawing their stories before their eyes and seeing faces light up when they recognized their sketch!

 In the Studio:  Editing a video about Fire Adapted Communities, Journey Mapping for an international corporation, and illustrating a holiday card for a local foundation! Since I don't photograph myself in the studio, here's a fun sketch I did for International Day of the Girl, celebrating adventures and mud puddles for girls everywhere!

In the Studio:

Editing a video about Fire Adapted Communities, Journey Mapping for an international corporation, and illustrating a holiday card for a local foundation! Since I don't photograph myself in the studio, here's a fun sketch I did for International Day of the Girl, celebrating adventures and mud puddles for girls everywhere!

Here's What A Successful Illustrated Video Partnership Looks Like

Since the birth of the RSA videos for TED talks, illustrated videos have become ever-more popular to explain everything from complex science topics to why the viewer should hire a particular business.

Videos range in detail, quality, style and effectiveness. They’re a solid investment, which is why I’ve outlined some keys to making sure you make the most of your illustrated video partner. You can also read about how to get the most out of working with a graphic recorder here, and what the video making process looks like here.

ConverSKETCHes_9_How to make the Best Videos.jpg

Know Your Purpose. This is the most important key to a successful video. If you don’t know exactly what you’re asking viewers to do as a result to seeing your video, make that a priority before moving forward. A call to action might be asking them to contact you or your organization, maybe it’s to educate them and encourage them to find out more about a subject, or to enroll in your program. Maybe it’s to consider adopting a new or different behavior. Whatever it is, make sure that is clear to everyone involved and that whenever you need to make decisions, you come back to this purpose.

Know Your Audience. Second only to knowing your purpose, knowing WHO it is you want to see this information is paramount. It’s SO tempting to say “My audience is everyone!” or “The ‘general public’”. However, it’s been proven time and again that if you’re talking to everyone, you’re connecting with no-one. In other words, when you have a specific group in mind, and you tailor your message to what matters most to them, the likelihood of getting them to respond to your Call to Action increases significantly. It’s really flipping hard. You to think about things from THEIR perspective, not what you think they want. Why should they care? What matters most to them? I work with you to understand this, and craft a story around it to resonate with your audience and make them want to know more.

Be Clear About Expectations. This include details like time frame, number of drafts and revisions agreed to, who needs to be involved in revisions, video length (for the love of all that is focused, get it to 2 minutes or less), what services you’re seeking and what your team will provide. For example, in my contracts I include 2 rounds of revisions to the storyboard, and one round of tweaks to the rough cut once I’ve filmed. I can be involved throughout the entire process and deliver a full-fledged final video, or do the storyboarding, illustration and filming, then hand off the files to your team to finish up.

Understand All the Moving Parts. Just as it’s important to make sure you’re clear on the video process, realizing all the different ingredients can help you know what you can provide and what you need in the package provided by your video making partner. Aside from the script, the storyboard and then final illustrations, the background music and voice over narration have a profound impact on the tone and energy your video has. Taking the time to engage with the right voice talent and select an appropriate music track contributes to your video’s success.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

I see that sparkle in your eye…the one that means you’ve got a story to tell. Go ahead, click that button down there…

Where in the World ISN’T ConverSketch? (it’s been a busy week)

Filming & Editing One of Those Sweet Videos You Just Read About!

 The Western US has been dealing with juuuust a couple of little  wildfires  this season. I’ve been working with a team of scientists and practitioners at the Rocky Mountain Research Station to develop a video series about helping communities become more adapted to wildfire. Video number two got filmed this week!

The Western US has been dealing with juuuust a couple of little wildfires this season. I’ve been working with a team of scientists and practitioners at the Rocky Mountain Research Station to develop a video series about helping communities become more adapted to wildfire. Video number two got filmed this week!

Graphic Facilitation in Maryland with the Board of Melwood

 Melwood is a non-profit organization that trains and supports people with differing abilities to do work in landscaping, horticultural, and custodial work, as well as providing therapy and other services. We spent two days on the Chesapeake Bay being inspired by speakers and discussing the future and priorities for Melwood in the next five years.

Melwood is a non-profit organization that trains and supports people with differing abilities to do work in landscaping, horticultural, and custodial work, as well as providing therapy and other services. We spent two days on the Chesapeake Bay being inspired by speakers and discussing the future and priorities for Melwood in the next five years.

A Little Giving Back in Berthoud …

 Although I'm particular about the ways I give back, infusing visual thinking and note-taking in schools is something I support. So,  last week I spent a day in the Library at Berthoud High School sharing the basics of visual note-taking with students of all ages. As you can imagine, by the end, I felt exhausted, and also energized by their enthusiasm and laughter seeing that doodling can be useful. Big shout out to Carin Barrett for making it happen!

Although I'm particular about the ways I give back, infusing visual thinking and note-taking in schools is something I support. So,  last week I spent a day in the Library at Berthoud High School sharing the basics of visual note-taking with students of all ages. As you can imagine, by the end, I felt exhausted, and also energized by their enthusiasm and laughter seeing that doodling can be useful. Big shout out to Carin Barrett for making it happen!

…And a Little More Giving Back for Public Lands

Here’s a digital video I created as a donation to the Outdoor Alliance, an organization that does work I deeply care about: protecting our public lands from being privatized. As an American citizen, all public lands are YOURS, you have a right to enjoy them! Here’s a quick video explaining public lands and actions you can take to support them.

Systems Thinking with the One Health Fellows

 I’ve loved being a partner to the One Health Institute at CSU, and on Saturday the first cohort of Fellows gathered to begin their five year journey together. I am looking forward to seeing how their trans-disciplinary work moves One Health forward.

I’ve loved being a partner to the One Health Institute at CSU, and on Saturday the first cohort of Fellows gathered to begin their five year journey together. I am looking forward to seeing how their trans-disciplinary work moves One Health forward.

The ConverSketch Illustrated Video: Process In Images & Words

This week’s blog is going to be fairly straightforward and focused on the in’s and out’s of the video process when I work with clients. Different folks do it differently, and for me, it’s important to be clear about the process and expectations, which I’ll write more about next time.

Below you’ll find a sketch of what it looks like to go through the full video creation process with me. Each project and client is different, so we tweak things. But here’s the basic flow, with a few notes below.

ConverSketch Illustrated Video Process_Small.jpg
  • Scoping meeting/call (what’s the goal? Who’s your audience? What style? Time frame & budget?)
  • Script writing responsibility and number of revisions determined with client before project begins.
  • Storyboard revisions again, TBD with my client, but usually I stick with two rounds of revisions on storyboard sketches. Once sketches are approved here, all imagery is FINAL and cannot be changed.
  • Rough Cut revisions include changes to timing, volume, VO, music, color, movement speed, etc.
  • You get the Final Cut and we share that puppy!

At this point, you might be wondering how long it takes to create one of these. And the maddening answer I'll give you is...it depends. To give a ball-park, in an ideal world, between 4 and 8 weeks.

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Now that you know what it takes…

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

 This week I filmed the second video in a series about wildfire research to help communities become more adapted and resilient to wildfire. Which, is kind of a big deal in the  Western US this year …

This week I filmed the second video in a series about wildfire research to help communities become more adapted and resilient to wildfire. Which, is kind of a big deal in the Western US this year

...And I'm headed back to Utah tomorrow to spend some time visioning with Deans at the U! More to come!

What They Don't Tell You About Storytelling

Storytelling is a deemed an “irresistible” and powerful tool for strategic thinking and marketing in business these days.

Good stories need to keep our attention -- which is a rarity in a time of sensory overload and instant gratification – by creating some sort of tension that ensnares the emotions and intrigues the audience. Good marketing uses the power of story to go beyond what a company does or makes to share a deeper understanding of the companies’ Why.

But just because we’re telling a story, does that mean the strategy is working?

Over the past year, I’ve been drawn to the concept of storylistening, which embodies what graphic recording is all about.

Taking a moment to reflect, “storytelling” assumes that if we speak a story, people will listen to it. But people are busy, they’re not going to listen to you unless they have a reason.

During strategic planning or visioning, successful processes allow space for leaders to listen to the past, connect it with the present, and create space for people to see the future. Using graphic recording supports the group to tell a story that helps everyone see the Vision, to own it, live it and make it happen.

A good storyteller tells a tale with the audience, reacting and shifting the story as needed. Listening, visually capturing, synthesizing and adjusting with the group is one of my favorite parts of graphic facilitation. Sometimes it looks messy, but if it helps the group tell and listen to their collaborative story, then we’ve done good work together.

How can you give people a reason to listen to your story?

conversketch-graphic-recorder-good-stories

Once again, thank you from my heart and soul for your support, great senses of humor, brilliant minds, collaboration and what you're each doing to make the world a better place.

Cheers, Karina

Want to get everyone at your company telling the same story? Already have a story, but want to spice it up and share it with the world?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

The American Society of Safety Engineers

 I just want to say you are awesome and you take our brand to the next level! We love you!!        - Alex Scovil, Gates Corporation

I just want to say you are awesome and you take our brand to the next level! We love you!!        - Alex Scovil, Gates Corporation

Fort Laramie Illustrated Video

The first Drawing Connections to Climate Change video is now out! Find out how a National Historic Monument in Wyoming is feeling the impact of a changing climate, and share your ideas to create a different future! CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO WATCH THE VIDEO.