learn to draw

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.

Conversketches 7 Common Ground

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,

Karina Signature_100.png



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.

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.

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.

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?

conversketch-learn-to-draw-a-pencil

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.

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.

Four Tools Guaranteed to Send Your Team into Decision-Making Bliss

I hope this finds all you folks in the US happy and rested after the Thanksgiving holiday.

My last newsletter focused on suspending judgement while brainstorming to facilitate innovation and creativity, with a promise to follow up this week with ideas to help you or your team make decisions and select the best ideas to move forward with. Okay, maybe you won’t end up completely blissed out if you use these ideas, but at least you’ll have a darn clear picture of what’s important to your team. Which is pretty much the same thing, right?

A graphic recorder can often visually reflect where there is energy or consensus in the group through the illustrations they create, but what if you don’t have a graphic recorder, or the group is having a difficult time deciding?

My first step is usually to have the group create Clusters. When brainstorming, I like to have participants write ideas on sticky notes – one per note – and post them on a wall. This makes it easy to move the ideas around into different themes or categories, which can then simplify or reduce the number of items you need to decide on or prioritize. Be sure to clearly delineate and name the clusters.

Great, now we have a ton of awesome clusters. What now? Now, my friend, you have options (ironic, more decisions for you to make).  Here are some of my favorite decision-making and prioritization techniques, in no particular order, and with endless opportunities to tweak to fit your needs or group.

1.       The Dot Vote: A Classic. Chances are, you’ve used this at least once in your life…If the words “dot vote” make you want to run screaming from the room or throw the device you’re reading this on against a wall, please move on to Idea 2 immediately. However, it’s used often for a reason; it’s quick, can be used in groups of all sizes, and forces people to make tough choices. I usually give people multiple dot stickers so they can give their votes some weight: if you really love an idea, put as many dots on it as you’d like. If you are interested in several, spread your dots around. The caveat is that dot voting might mean an idea that will more heavily affect a minority of the group might get overlooked, even with weighted dot voting.

2.       Five Finger Vote: A la OGSystems Visioneers. This is another quick, weighted voting technique. After generating a list of clusters or key ideas to vote on, discuss them to be sure participants understand each one. Go through them one by one and ask participants to hold up fingers for each as follows:

0: Strong Preference Against (could not accept this idea)

1: Preference Against (accepting this idea would be a compromise to better alternatives)

2: Casual Preference Against (could accept this idea, but other alternatives are just as good)

3: Casual Preference For (could accept this idea, no better alternatives)

4: Preference For (would support this idea, and not prefer another idea)

5: Strong Preference For (could not support another idea)

Count the total for each option – the idea with the highest number of votes is the winner.

3.       Selection Chart: Another Classic. When I need something more analytical and number oriented, creating a chart with options on the left column and criteria for ranking across the top can be useful. Decide on a scale for weight (i.e. 1-5, 5 being most important), and go through each option and give each criterion a number based on how important it is. Again, add up the scores for each option and you’ll get a winner and see distribution of importance. Bonus: You can do this individually first, then come together to discuss patterns or differences across the group.

4.       Decision Trees (for inspiration & humor try this one): A la Dan Roam. Start with an important question, such as “Is dropping our price a good option?”. From there, ask and draw another, related question like “Is our market price sensitive?” decide yes/no, and if yes, ask another question, such as “How is our price relative to our competitor?”. If no, try another option since price isn’t a factor. And so on.

Now get out there and make a blissful Selection Chart to decide which of these tools you’ll use next time your team needs to make a decision.

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 someone to help your team make some decisions...then actually move forward together? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic recording magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

I'm proud to announce a new explainer video is out in the world thanks to the new One Health Institute at Colorado State University! Click the image above to learn how CSU's Dr. John Spencer is partnering with researchers and practitioners in Brazil to work toward ending leprosy!

A Simple Way to Keep from FALL-ing Off the Crushing It Train

We’re entering the last few months of 2016, and I want to encourage you to take a step back from the day-to-day grind for a moment and think about the bigger picture you have for this year.

For those of you who have been with me since last December, this is the perfect time to revisit your Vision Board, or whatever form you might have articulated your goals for the year. If you haven’t written or drawn anything so far, take a few minutes to write down a few goals, ideas, or projects you’d like to mark “Nailed It” when 2017 rolls around.

Now ask yourself:
- What have you completed that deserves celebration?
- What’s still on there you haven’t finished, or maybe even forgot about?
- Are these things still relevant?

Take an honest look -- it’s cool, you still have ¼ of the year left! -- and decide which of these things are your top 3 priorities. Then, whip out that calendar. What do you need to do to achieve these goals? By when? I strongly suggest writing something down or making actionable goals to Get. It. Done.

This is what this looks like for me: I have my vision board posted on the wall at my desk where I see it every day. To take action, I like writing down a running list of my graphic recording & other projects and goals on a whiteboard, also next to my desk. Above that, each evening I write my top 3 priorities for the next day. This helps me keep things organized, and I get to cross things off a list when I complete them. Ahem, like so:

And now, some autumn leaves to inspire seasonal doodles. For fun try using little leaves instead of normal bullet points.

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my email newsletter, and I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends using those handy links below!

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 someone to help your team define shared goals...then actually move forward together? Click to get in touch about your next meeting or event that could use a touch of graphic recording magic.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

The US Fish & Wildlife Service is getting their story on. Here's one of many charts from the four day workshop at the end of September. 

Change Happens. How To Foster A Team That Not Only Survives, But Thrives.

The word “resilience” is popular right now. We’ve worn out “sustainability” and we want to build a business culture that helps our organization stay on the cutting edge. But how many of us think about what resilience really means? Here’s a definition for you:

Resilience: the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks.
 
So, a resilient team can deal with the inevitable and ever-more-frequent changes we experience in life, and get back on track. But is simply getting back to where you were before what you want? Does this sound like an organization that is cutting edge? Isn’t there something more?!

I’m so glad you asked. There’s a brilliant guy named Nassim Nicholas Talib that wrote a little book called Antifragile. Now stay with me here, I see your eyes glazing over at some jargon-y, made-up business word. I promise you this one is worth thinking on. Antifragile is one of those books that is so packed with ideas that make my mind stretch, that I have to take a moment to process each paragraph I read. It’s awesome.

Talib describes the essence of antifragile as the following:

Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better (pp. 433-435).

See what I mean? That is an INCREDIBLY POWERFUL idea. Change hits, and instead of somehow making it back to the way things were before, your team actually improves? Yes, please.

So how can you create a culture of antifragility?

It takes intentional work. Central to building a high-functioning team is good communication. Regular, transparent and open communication nurtures trust, and creates a positive feedback loop of good communication.

Feeling like you’re in a communication rut with your team? Three words for you: Draw. It. Out.

Using drawings, especially simple ones, is a phenomenally useful and fun tool to build a culture of great communication and antifragility. Doodling complex ideas helps you clarify what’s most important and simplify the ideas to more easily explain to others. Inviting other team members to collaborate with you and share what they’re seeing opens eyes to new perspectives, new connections, and create a sense of shared ownership of ideas, which leads to a higher likelihood of action. Even if it looks messy, it’s about the process. It’s about sharing ideas and working together. Then being able to refine and share your story so that when sh*t gets real, everyone knows what the vision is, and feels the confidence to move toward antifragility.

Partnering with a graphic recorder can help you take a step back, think critically about the situation, and give your notes an extra pop of drawing expertise. Or, if you're itching to take the reins (ahem, markers) yourself, getting personalized training from a visual creativity coach can help you take your ideas to the next level. 

Click on the image below to see the larger version.

What do you think about antifragile? Come on over to the blog and share in the comments so others can benefit from your wisdom. 

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

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


You don’t have to be an artist to draw out your ideas, but it’s pretty fun to work with one. If you’d like to bring me on for your next event or work with me one-on-one to improve your skills to draw out ideas, let me know by clicking that nice button down there.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Next week I'm headed to Salt Lake City to help them create a visual summary map of what they've been hearing in 1 1/2 years of outreach around ending homelessness in SLC. This drawing is something they can use to help the group is build on what the City has heard from the community, rather than repeating what they know already.

Three Things You Never Thought of to Level Up Your Company's Culture

What do you think of when you hear the word “culture”?

Does it make you want to panic and flee (potentially to the nearest bar and sing some Boy George songs)? It certainly is a popular business blog topic and a fun little buzzword that gets some folks fired up, and makes other peoples’ eyes glaze over.

Be that as it may, as someone who works closely with teams across different sectors, I get to see the effects of this powerful concept as I support groups moving through tough situations or developing steps to their ideal future state. Sometimes it’s clear that a team has a super dialed culture (aka it’s personality, or the basic shared values and beliefs of an organization), and sometimes it’s clear that folks haven’t taken the time to do the hard work it takes to cultivate and nurture a solid organizational culture.

So, because good things come in three’s, here are three ways a graphic facilitator can help you identify and share what makes your org so incredibly high-functioning and generally awesome so you can keep leading the pack and changing the world.

Create it Together. Communication can make or break an organization. If everyone can actually see themselves in the goals you’re aiming for, they’re much more likely to remember and commit to the group’s vision. Creating a shared, visual reflection of the group’s ideas and stories is a powerful tool to develop buy-in.

Share Like It’s Your Job (It Is). Tools like Summary Graphics and Explainer Videos can be used after your killer, productive, collaborative and fun meeting to remind what people bring to the bigger picture. These beautiful illustrations are often hung in shared spaces or individual desks because they’re stylish and functional – i.e. they’re not only packed with key ideas from everyone, they’re nice to look at too.

Nurture & Invest. Humans have a delightful tendency to change and adapt, and your organizational culture really should do the same to be useful. This might sound exhausting, but it’s an opportunity to build trust and autonomy in your org. Working with a graphic facilitator to train your employees on visual and collaborative thinking is an investment that can have a glorious ripple effect. Skills like suspending judgement, divergent thinking, and of course, creative doodling can have a tremendously positive effect on teams. Go on, teach them to fish.

Click on the image below to see the larger version below.

If you liked this tip, please sign up for my emails and if you'd like, I'd be so grateful if you shared it with your friends!

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



All this culture business (and business culture) sounds like fun. Click below so we can start designing your culture & communication strategy together.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Last week I shared a finished explainer video on Dialogue and Deliberation, this week is a more behind-the-scenes perspective. Here's a shot of my video recording set up for the most recent video I recorded. I won't be able to share the video per my client's privacy, but I can show you that the magic is made right here!

Last week I shared a finished explainer video on Dialogue and Deliberation, this week is a more behind-the-scenes perspective. Here's a shot of my video recording set up for the most recent video I recorded. I won't be able to share the video per my client's privacy, but I can show you that the magic is made right here!