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Crossing the Divide – How to Find Common Ground Among Diverse Perspectives

Whether it’s national politics or internal to your organization, we all hear stories about polarized viewpoints, and the challenge of working across silos.

At the same time, we know that diversity is not only healthy, but also builds resilience when things don’t go as planned.

So how do you harness the inherent tension that bringing diverse perspectives, and potentially combative ones, together to build a strong, shared path forward?

Here are four suggestions for finding common ground from my experience as a graphic facilitator:

-          Create space for context setting and relationship building. Often overlooked or dismissed as “wasting time”, building in time at the beginning of the event, as well as throughout, to clearly outline the “why” of the meeting and for participants to get to know one another allows for more ease when conversations get difficult.

-          Put more time than you think into developing questions to surface shared values, such as “What is important about the work we do?” can provide a window into the group. Having a few open-ended questions like “What should we do about __________?” provide space for participants to surface concerns or solutions the planning team might have missed, but are integral to moving forward successfully.

-          Build in less structured time. This is another piece that often feels like a “waste” of time, but is vitally important to cultivating trust and creativity. This is especially true if much of the agenda will be presentations or panels – you’ve invested in bringing all these important people together to work toward a goal, now give them the freedom to use those brains and hearts to do the work!

-          Draw it out with the intent of surfacing shared ground. Graphic facilitation or recording is a tool to leverage to literally show the group where they’re in agreement. Partnering with a graphic facilitator who can work with you to listen and capture through a particular “lens” to help surface shared values or tensions helps the group keep track of complex, moving parts to build a shared picture of what’s important.

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Have you been looking for common ground on an issue? Click that button to explore how we can leverage visual tools for lasting 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,

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Where in the World is ConverSketch?

The Colorado Front Range:  Working with a public health team and their partners as they evaluate an assessment to use the data to support the community, and hospital managers to think more deeply about building trust in their teams.

The Colorado Front Range: Working with a public health team and their partners as they evaluate an assessment to use the data to support the community, and hospital managers to think more deeply about building trust in their teams.

In the Studio: Painting up another explainer video for the US Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS). This video will be available in October, but for now, here’s another look at a video created for the RMRS last year.

Want Everyone in Your Org to Understand Your Strategic Plan? Try This!

Your Strategic Plan. Can you remember it off the top of your head? What is your vision, and what are the goals that will get you there? What makes up your organizational culture? When was the last time you read your strategic plan?

Helping groups navigate strategic planning makes up a big chunk of the work I do as a graphic facilitator, and I want to help you avoid one of the most common mistakes I see: putting heaps of money, time, and effort into bringing your best minds together to come up with a strategy which gets written up and then sits on a shelf because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

Which results in:

  • Confusion around priorities (which priority is the real priority?)

  • Lackluster engagement because people don’t see how they fit into the bigger picture

  • Reinforcement of silos because of the temptation to focus on what’s right in front of us, rather than the high-level strategic goals

It doesn’t have to be this way!

And it doesn’t need to be a huge deal to shift from status quo to status: whoa!

Whether you’re working on a new strategic plan or you already have one, engaging a graphic facilitator to support process design or synthesizing your current plan into a strategic illustration can help alleviate frustrating patterns and support a healthy organization.

Here’s what making it visual can do for you:

  • Clearly shows vision, mission, values, and priorities in one page

  • Imagery can be used that employees see themselves in, which build buy-in

  • It can easily be referenced to make sure day-to-day activities are in support of the larger strategic direction

  • Create interest and something people will want to take time to look at, often, and remember

  • Nuance can be shown in visuals you can’t easily communicate with words

  • Provide a shared story outline leadership can easily share with their teams so the message is clear across the organization

If you have a plan you’d like brought to life or are in the midst of a strategic planning process, let’s talk about how visuals can add long-term value with a ripple effect!

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,

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Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Washington, DC: I just got back from the Funding Science for Sustainability forum, a gathering of entities that fund sustainability research around the world. Participants discussed the potential for strategic partnerships to better address gaps and challenges of supporting research around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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Video Release! I often share that I’m in the studio working on videos and other projects. This week, I’m delighted to share a video for the Drawing Connections series for the National Park Service. Check out Yosemite National Park:

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:

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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.

Happy Summer from ConverSketch

While I’ve touted the power of consistency in previous posts, the fact of the matter is…it’s summer. Between graphic recording jobs, we took a week and explored San Francisco and the Northern California coast on the way to a stunning wedding of dear friends on the Smith River.

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And, as I mentioned in my last dispatch, this summer I've had the honor of working on a surprise project which will be unveiled on Thursday, August 2nd in Old Town Square, Fort Collins at 7 pm. The Hazel Miller Band will be playing a Thursday Night Live concert in the Square, so if you're in NoCo, come on down, listen to some great music, and check out what I've been up to!

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That big ol’ surprise project isn’t quite done, so…that’s my cue to leave you with this short, sweet update email. Now go enjoy some summer time!

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

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We Had A Kickass Retreat. Now What Do We Do with Those Drawings?

You pulled it off.

The right people in the room, excellent process design, a location that stimulated creativity and collaboration, excellent food. You even had a graphic recorder visually capture the conversations for you, which captivated participants and helped them see connections and build ownership of the ideas generated. The retreat. Was. Amazing. Everyone left feeling energized, with clear direction and shared understanding about where you’re headed and why.

Now what?

Aside from a cold beverage to celebrate pulling off such a stellar event, you know that you’ve got to figure out a way to keep participants motivated and energized after the retreat. How can you make sure they don’t get distracted with the day-to-day urgency of their work, and are able to keep the clear vision and energy front-of-mind?

Lucky for you, when the retreat is over, my job isn’t. The visual charts that are created are incredibly useful during, and also after the event. That’s why I create a custom list of suggestions to use the charts after the event, tailored to each of my clients’ needs and goals.  

And today I’m going to give you a sneak peek into what goes into them. A huge shout out to Lisa Arora for the framework I’m about to share.

4 P's of using a graphic recording chart after the event

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 more ideas for how to use your charts after an event? Let’s put your visual meeting notes into action for your organization!

Cheers!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

In the Studio: Filming videos for the National Park Service and US Forest Service about climate change and wildfire risk planning. Things are heating up around here!

In the Studio: Filming videos for the National Park Service and US Forest Service about climate change and wildfire risk planning. Things are heating up around here!

Albuquerque: To graphic record for a women’s health mentorship program. Looking forward to  cactus  and desert vibes.

Albuquerque: To graphic record for a women’s health mentorship program. Looking forward to cactus and desert vibes.

These Global Fellows Use their Differences to Protect Biodiversity Around the World

There are a lot of groups out there that are full of diverse people working toward the same goal. This diversity and breadth of perspective is sought-after, however in practice can make for difficulty when collaborating. After all, different perspectives mean different approaches, priorities, communication styles, and potentially values.

Last week I was in Medellín, Colombia for the United Nations IPBES conference on science and policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services. I had the pleasure to graphic facilitate visioning sessions with the IPBES Fellows, a group of 49 next generation researchers from 37 countries seeking to use their scientific training to influence policy to protect biodiversity.

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What blew me away the most was how well this group functioned as a team while working together. Here’s what I noticed them doing during the sessions that contributed to a successful global team that was able to go above and beyond with the impact they are making because of their strength in differences.

  • It was clear they had been cultivating an environment where it was okay to disagree, change your mind, or question an idea.
  • They listened to each other seeking to understand.
  • They valued each other’s rich and diverse background informed by culture and field of study.
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Next time you’re working with a group of people with different perspectives, think about how you could support and benefit from these differences to make your strategy, product, or paper that much stronger.

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

Ready to build a collaborative strategy? Let’s make it the best it can be with all the perspectives on your team.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Medellín: While it’s history has been fraught with violence, today Medellín is a vibrant city full of the most welcoming and generous people, known as Paisas. While riding a cable car to an eco-park just outside the city, I met Marleni and her family, who were born and raised on small farms inside the park. They invited me to come see their home and treated me to some farm-fresh meals! I made a small painting of their farmhouse, Finca Juliana as a thank you. It never ceases to amaze me how good people are, and what can happen when you say “yes”!

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Ways of Listening

Listening is one of those things that is consistently an area for growth in my life, both personally and professionally. I’ve written about listening tips before, and I feel fortunate that in my job it’s necessary to practice and hone my listening skills.  

For me, listening is a combination of presence, patience, staying open, authenticity, and trust. It is about being fully engaged and caring about another person, regardless of whether they’re part of your inner circle, or a presenter at a conference you’ve never met. By listening deeply, you are sharing with that person something incredibly valuable: your attention and therefore your energy.

As a graphic recorder, different situations call for different ways of listening. I have known this on a mostly subconscious level throughout my practice, however last month at the Visual Practice Workshop hosted by Kelvy Bird she shared some framing around listening that has shifted the way I approach the work for my clients.

“Levels of Scribing” from  Generative Scribing  by Kelvy Bird

“Levels of Scribing” from Generative Scribing by Kelvy Bird

Sometimes during rapid-fire presentations, what’s most important is to capture images that reflect the content to help people remember and engage with the ideas.

Other times it’s more important to be listening for context and how ideas relate to one another to illuminate systems or relationships.

And other times, often over longer periods of time, it’s most important to be with the group as they surface and reveal the “highest potentiality for the systems we serve”. This might be ideas that are fuzzy or still developing, or to be listening for what is not being said. This requires presence, a whole-body experience tuning into not only the mind but also intuition and empathy.

Something I love most about graphic recording is that I’m always learning, continually improving. It’s never boring, that’s for sure. And it’s also never perfect. But that’s the wonderful bit about being human, the imperfection keeps things interesting.

So here’s to practicing and deepening our listening together.

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

What kind of listening and visual capture can best serve your group?

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

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Medellín, Colombia: Next week I’ll be in Colombia for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). I’ll be working with the Fellows to help them design the future of the program and how to work better intergenerationally as researchers. Looking forward to sharing updates!

The Wildfire Research (WiRē)Team Videos Go Live Tomorrow! This video series has been in the works since our kickoff workshop in November, 2016. A collaborative team of social scientists, fire researchers, practitioners and multiple agencies, find out how this team helps communities become more fire adapted (or what “fire adapted” even means!). Here’s the first one for you all as Early Bird subscribers!

ConverSketch is Six!

This week marks the sixth year since ConverSketch first came into the world wielding markers, chalks and insights.

Each year I enjoy putting together some of the top lessons or patterns emerging in my world (here’s the link to last year’s, and the year before that). This year I’m taking a slightly different approach, sharing insights and areas I intend to explore more in the coming months.

Three of my biggest insights this year:

  • Cultivate Intuition. Whether it’s trusting I know what’s most important to capture while graphic recording or making decisions on which direction to take my business, I know that listening to my intuition leads me to where I need to be. This is a consistent thread I find myself returning to over and over again.
  •  I’m a Thought Partner. More than only a fun diversion at a conference, I have found most joy and positive impact with my clients when I approach the work as a Thought Partner bringing deep value to their team and goals.
  • Relationship-Building for Success. This year in particular highlighted several groups who were new, forming, or had never worked together in person. Hosting an off-site or retreat with everyone in the same physical space underlined the power of face-to-face, human connection and relationship-building for successful events.

Three things I want to explore in the next year:

  • Listening Lenses. How can I tune my inner radio to the frequency that will best serve the group? What level of listening is most needed to do that? 
  • Weaving Story. How to I hone my skills to listen for and weave together a visual that will tell the core of the group’s story? How can I better engage with my video clients to ask the questions that will really help them tell the core of their story, and connect with their desired audiences?
  • Systems Scribing. This year I want to practice moving around, listening for different chunks of information, and using the entire sheet to map the system to bring forth connections to serve the group best.

I am in awe of the amazing groups I get to partner with. It is an honor to visualize their ideas, be trusted to listen and hold the energy of the room, and distill it into a visual map that will be carried forward to remind them of the work they’ve done and connections they’ve made.

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

Ready to make your even more meaningful and memorable with some visuals? Let's chat!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Denver  - Last week I had the honor of capturing and holding space for an organization going through some major changes and growing pains. Partnering with a talented and experienced facilitator, I really understood the power the visuals have to help people feel heard, let go, gain clarity about the future, and move on.

Denver - Last week I had the honor of capturing and holding space for an organization going through some major changes and growing pains. Partnering with a talented and experienced facilitator, I really understood the power the visuals have to help people feel heard, let go, gain clarity about the future, and move on.

Newest ConverSketch Illustrated Video – Cabrillo National Monument

This is the second installment of the “Drawing Change” series I’m doing in partnership with the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program. Learn about ocean acidification and how aquatic animals are adapting in a changing ocean.

In the Studio!  This week I’m filming the first of a new series of videos about wildfire risk management and how scientists are using models and aerial maps to help managers plan ahead to more effectively manage wildfires when they do happen.

In the Studio! This week I’m filming the first of a new series of videos about wildfire risk management and how scientists are using models and aerial maps to help managers plan ahead to more effectively manage wildfires when they do happen.

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.

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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.

Analog or Digital? How to Use Your Tools for Focused Creativity

Hey!

Have you ever noticed sometimes it’s just easier to be creative with specific supplies? What I mean is, have you ever tried starting a project on the computer, but it just hasn’t made sense until you picked up a pencil and started sketching or writing by hand?

Last week I learned about a podcast called “Hurry Slowly from Jocelyn K. Glei. When I saw one of the episodes was an interview with Austin Kleon, I had to listen.

The whole 45-minute conversation is worth a listen if you find yourself interested in art, creative process, the role of movement in creativity, and design. If, however, you only have a few moments and I’m lucky to have gotten you to even open this email, here’s a quote that eloquently summarizes the phenomenon I mentioned up there at the top:

“The notebook is the place where you figure out what’s going on inside you or what’s rattling around. And then, the keyboard is the place that you go to tell people about it.”

How do you think best? What sparks your creative flow? What tools do you use that really bring you to a space that facilitates joyful creation?

For me, it’s a handful of markers and a massive sheet of paper. The large scale helps me feel open to make connections and include all the ideas floating around, make connections, then pick the direction I want to focus in on.

What about you?

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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

Need a couple of helping hands (and markers) to get your creative process flowing? Let’s talk about your ideas.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

New Mexico  - Two weeks ago I graphic recorded for the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force. Healthcare professionals from clinics and hospitals around the state shared about how to support new moms and babies to be healthy starting from that very first hour.

New Mexico - Two weeks ago I graphic recorded for the New Mexico Breastfeeding Task Force. Healthcare professionals from clinics and hospitals around the state shared about how to support new moms and babies to be healthy starting from that very first hour.

Vacation Time!  I took last week almost entirely off and enjoyed hot sprints, mountain biking, and thanksgiving with loved ones.

Vacation Time! I took last week almost entirely off and enjoyed hot sprints, mountain biking, and thanksgiving with loved ones.