visual communication

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,

Karina Signature_100.png




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).

global sustainability funders forum conversketch graphic recording

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:

Crush Your Next Big Project…It Will Only Take 15 Minutes

Sometimes a project feels so big you don’t know where to begin. Or maybe it’s not so huge, but it feels easier to check your phone than starting what needs to get done.

Here’s a trick to shake off that paralysis of getting started:

Set yourself a timer for 15 minutes.

Really? 15 minutes? Yes, really.

I’m doing it right now – I’m using my own advice to get this newsletter out to you fantastic people!

I’ve found that 15 minutes is just a small enough chunk of time I can convince myself to just say no to one more cute cat video, put my head down, and start chipping away at what I need to do.

And, 15 minutes is just long enough to get into the groove and want to keep jamming out on what I’m working on. Maybe set that timer for another round and see if I can finish something faster than I expected!

Bonus tip: Set the timer, then hide your phone. Temptation? What temptation?

Conversketches 6 15 Minutes

What takes less than 15 minutes? Getting in touch to bring your upcoming event to the next level with visuals and creative process design to facilitate lasting action.

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?

Dallas:  Supporting a C-Level leadership retreat through reflective and challenging conversations around how to work together to be a better team.

Dallas: Supporting a C-Level leadership retreat through reflective and challenging conversations around how to work together to be a better team.

Washington, DC:  For Part 2 of the Future Earth Sustainability 2.0 workshops mapping the future of sustainability research.

Washington, DC: For Part 2 of the Future Earth Sustainability 2.0 workshops mapping the future of sustainability research.

Denver:  Supporting a collaborative of emergency management partners as they tackled design thinking, priorities, and mapping their time line moving forward.

Denver: Supporting a collaborative of emergency management partners as they tackled design thinking, priorities, and mapping their time line moving forward.

Northern Colorado:  Capturing a leadership training on how to walk the talk to build and instill trust in teams at hospitals.

Northern Colorado: Capturing a leadership training on how to walk the talk to build and instill trust in teams at hospitals.

In the Studio:  Working digitally and remotely for  Visuality  as their European-based team captured the Global Water Partnership Annual Meeting which “followed the sun” around the globe! Here’s a snipped from the discussion in China about the importance of working collectively.

In the Studio: Working digitally and remotely for Visuality as their European-based team captured the Global Water Partnership Annual Meeting which “followed the sun” around the globe! Here’s a snipped from the discussion in China about the importance of working collectively.

The Other AI

You know when you’re having a conversation with someone you admire, and pretty much every other sentence they say blows your mind?

Last fall I had the joy of getting to sit down with one of those people in my life, Heather Martinez, and something she casually dropped has been bouncing around inside me for months as I figure out how to chew on it and what it means for my graphic facilitation practice.

We were talking about process design for facilitating meaningful conversations, and I was gushing about Design Thinking and how complementary visual thinking is to that process.

Then Heather says something to the effect of “Yeah, but you can’t prototype humanity or emotions. That’s why I love Appreciative Inquiry!”

That brought me up short. I’ve dabbled with Appreciative Inquiry (or AI– not artificial intelligence AI), but with that statement, I immediately felt like it was a tool I needed to learn more about.

And this past week, the amazing and talented Christine Whitney-Sanchez facilitated over 700 IT professionals from across Arizona State University using Appreciative Inquiry and Open Space to build community, understand what’s most important to these people, and where to prioritize resources for the next year.

I think Appreciative Inquiry is a rad tool because it focuses on positivity, storytelling, human connection, discovery, and designing a path toward action. Unlike a lot of process design, it doesn’t assume to know the answers.

Here are the 5 D’s of Appreciative Inquiry, and you can learn more at this link.

appreciative-inquiry-design-conversketch-graphic-facilitation

Interested in applying Appreciative Inquiry to a question in your organization?

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 branson signature





Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Provincetown, Massachusetts: Graphic recording for the second annual Broto Conference on Art and Climate Change where artists of all mediums and walks discussed how art could be used to scale climate action globally for good.

Photo: Michael & Suz Karchmer

Photo: Michael & Suz Karchmer

Las Vegas, Nevada: With a group of engineers discussing the future of tech, trends, and big questions they’re thinking about. I can’t share much, but here’s one small illustration from my digital graphic recordings:

GH_ConverSketch_Graphic Recording_Global Models.jpg

Tempe, Arizona: Back with the amazing Arizona State University Technology Office (UTO) who convened IT professionals from across the University to have conversations about what matters most to them and how the UTO can support a more cohesive IT network across the entire campus. This image was created from responses from an app in real-time during 21 simultaneous sessions!

asu-empower-it-2019-aha-moments-summary-graphic-recording-conversketch

Denver, Colorado: Supporting the work of Future Earth and H3Uni as they guided an esteemed group of individuals discussing the future of sustainability scholarship and how to address systems-level challenges to doing effective transdisciplinary sustainability research.

sustainability-future-earth-conversketch-graphic-recording

Yeah, it was a busy eight days!

 

One Simple Question You Can Use to Train Your Brain to Apply Systems Thinking to Any Challenge

I’m on a learning-about-systems-thinking-kick. Why? Because the challenges and questions I’m seeing across sectors with the clients I partner with are more complex, more dynamic, and require solutions that address root causes.

And I want you to have the skills to recognize systems at play and know how to look for creative solutions that lift your team to the next level.

My last post covered the basics of systems thinking and a few everyday places to observe systems in action.

Okay, so it’s easy to see how stocks and flows apply to a bathtub, or feedback loops are seen in bank account interest.  

But what about starting from scratch? Where to begin?

Here’s a gem from Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows. Ask yourself:

If A causes B, is it also possible that B causes A?

Alright Karina, bring it back down. What does that actually look like?

If perceived lack of control causes low employee engagement, is it also possible that low employee engagement causes perceived lack of control?

Or…If not having a shared vision causes a siloed organization, is it also possible that a siloed organization causes not having a shared vision?

And if you want to get even more cerebral, she also challenges readers to “Try to think of a human decision that occurs without a feedback loop.”

learn-to-draw-silos-conversketch-graphic-recording

 Do you have a persistent challenge your organization keeps coming back to? If you think some visual strategizing could illuminate a new solution…

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-branson-signature

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

In the Studio:  Filming a new  illustrated video  for the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program, creating digital illustrations, and prepping for a lot of travel next week.

In the Studio: Filming a new illustrated video for the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program, creating digital illustrations, and prepping for a lot of travel next week.

It's been a month since we've been back from rafting the Grand Canyon and I'm stoked to share this shot taken by my husband - that's me in the light blue rowing through a rapid called Upset! Click on the photo to see a larger version! Photo: Spencer Branson

Updates from the Field

The past two weeks have been filled with graphic facilitation, studio work, and graphic recording across Colorado. I wanted to share a few of my favorite parts of this recent work with you all!

Graphic Facilitation for the newly formed Colorado Project Learning Tree Council. Check out that huge garage door window! Too bad it was below freezing over the two day retreat.

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project-learning-tree-colorado-landscape-graphic-facilitation

Graphic recording at a public outreach meeting in Custer County, Colorado, to help them capturing the complexity and make tangible their vision of the future!

custer-county-vision-conversketch-graphic-recording-cowboy-poetry
custer-county-vision-conversketch-graphic-recording-friendly-wave

Graphic recording for a client working on a collaborative around the Colorado River Basin in the western US.

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Let's Start 2019 Off Right

I hope this time of year has been filled with warmth, joy and quality time spent with loved ones.

If you’ve been with me for very long on this newsletter journey, you’ve probably picked up that one of my favorite strategic business tools is visualization. This time of year, I find it immensely useful to take time to reflect, and then visualize the year ahead.

Why is this important to me?

So I have a loose plan – Things change but having a strategy that I can adapt helps me work intentionally toward my goals.

To focus my energy – Having a Vision Board near my desk is fun to look at, and by looking often, it reinforces my goals and intentions for the year.

To set goals to grow and stretch – It can be easy to get completely focused on the day-to-day of a job, so taking time to set goals for growth and think strategically about the year’s work is important for me to bring me out of the weeds, and up to the strategic level every so often.

You can create whatever kind of vision board or strategic visualization that feels best for you – I like to paint and draw mine, growing up my family always made collages from magazines.

And as a little thank you gift to you all, I’ve created a template for you to write or draw your own vision for 2019.

ConverSketch-visualizing-2019-worksheet

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?

New York, New York:  Supporting the Mayor’s office and a cross-disciplinary team of scientists, modelers, and data visualizers as they wrap up an immense project to help the City make informed decisions and plan for mitigation of future flooding.

New York, New York: Supporting the Mayor’s office and a cross-disciplinary team of scientists, modelers, and data visualizers as they wrap up an immense project to help the City make informed decisions and plan for mitigation of future flooding.

Samburu, Kenya:  Tomorrow we head off with twelve students from Colorado State University on a two-week service learning trip to Samburu, Kenya. This will be my seventh time co-leading the trip which focuses on building relationships, listening to what the community needs, and generally broadening horizons. Here’s a shot from last year of when we helped re-construct a boma, or house, for an older woman in the community.

Samburu, Kenya: Tomorrow we head off with twelve students from Colorado State University on a two-week service learning trip to Samburu, Kenya. This will be my seventh time co-leading the trip which focuses on building relationships, listening to what the community needs, and generally broadening horizons. Here’s a shot from last year of when we helped re-construct a boma, or house, for an older woman in the community.

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.

What Every Event Organizer Wants to Hear & How to Make it Happen

No matter what your job is, there’s a good chance you’ve had to organize some sort of meeting. And if you haven’t, you probably will. Whether it’s a regular small-team meeting or a massive annual conference, there’s often a lot more work put into organizing a well-run event.

So, first of all, for all you event organizers out there, I raise a glass to you and all the work behind-the-scenes or otherwise un-thanked you do!

Next, if you’re organizing a meeting/gathering/convening/conference/event/show, I want to give you something. Have you ever heard someone at an event you organized say something like…

“This was unforgettable!”

“This was the BEST conference I’ve ever attended!”

“I got SO MUCH out of that meeting!”

“I can’t WAIT to use what I learned with the rest of my team!”

...or even a simple “THANK YOU!”

These are just a few things you, as an organizer may be yearning to hear or overhear. Why? Those things mean your participants felt valued, saw something from a new perspective, that they were present and engaged, and that you’ve helped them do their jobs or live their lives better. And while there are heaps of ways you can create an event that is meaningful and participants love, I’ve got one sure-fire way to get people fired up (in a good way).

Bring in a graphic recorder.

Having someone visually scribing the content, listening for connections, or even for what’s not being said can catapult participants from looking at their phone screens under the table, to wondering how their ideas can be incorporated into the mural being created. Seeing visual summaries of conversations and discussions moves groups from “My idea” to “Our vision” and “Actions I can take”. It can give them tangible stepping stones to take what they learned and move forward, or help unravel a previously complex and mystifying topic.

So, the next time your team is starting to plan an important event, consider a graphic recorder, facilitator or scribe to support your participants, honor their time, and help them do the best thinking they can.

learn-to-draw-a-crowd-conversketch

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 hear “You’re the BEST organizer I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with!” from your clients? Let’s talk about blowing their minds!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Turning Dull Trainings into Delightful Drawings:  The US Forest Service has to deal with a lot of challenging situations; if you live in the Western US, you probably know about the prolific wildfires this year. But did you also know the USFS is responsible for hazardous waste spills and clean up? I’m working to help explain the complexity of Spill Response Coordinators and how they work with other agencies when things get leaky. Here's a chart from the initial brainstorming session I facilitated.

Turning Dull Trainings into Delightful Drawings: The US Forest Service has to deal with a lot of challenging situations; if you live in the Western US, you probably know about the prolific wildfires this year. But did you also know the USFS is responsible for hazardous waste spills and clean up? I’m working to help explain the complexity of Spill Response Coordinators and how they work with other agencies when things get leaky. Here's a chart from the initial brainstorming session I facilitated.

Digital Scribing for ShapingEDU : Last spring I attended the ASU UnConference for on the future of higher education, technology, and meaningful learning for students. I'm in awe of how the organizers have carried the incredible energy of the 100+ participants forward into monthly video calls with participants from around the world on topics from the in-person event. The engagement was astounding, and I got to do live digital scribing while screen-sharing!

Digital Scribing for ShapingEDU: Last spring I attended the ASU UnConference for on the future of higher education, technology, and meaningful learning for students. I'm in awe of how the organizers have carried the incredible energy of the 100+ participants forward into monthly video calls with participants from around the world on topics from the in-person event. The engagement was astounding, and I got to do live digital scribing while screen-sharing!

Editing Cave:  Working on the final video for the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team, who use advanced mapping tools to help managers and responders make safer and more effective decisions about when and where to mitigate a wildfire.

Editing Cave: Working on the final video for the Wildfire Risk Management Science Team, who use advanced mapping tools to help managers and responders make safer and more effective decisions about when and where to mitigate a wildfire.

Which of These 5 Common Meeting Problems Would You Like to End?

Think to the last meeting you had. How did you feel when you left? Was it everything you imagined (and more)…or not so much? Today I’ve pulled together some of my least favorite meeting situations, AND, because I’m a big fan of being proactive, there are a few ideas to help address these issues.

Someone keeps bringing up the same point over and over again.

This tends to be one symptom when someone doesn’t feel heard, so making sure everyone can see how their ideas fit into the bigger picture of the conversation often nips this behavior quickly and easily.

You leave with your head spinning and you have no idea what you just did for the past 55 minutes.

When content is complex or there’s uncertainty about moving forward, conversations can quickly get convoluted. Partnering with a graphic recorder who visually maps the conversation in real time illuminates connections, questions, and momentum. The map also shows the group exactly how much they DID accomplish over the course of the meeting, and where more work is needed to move forward.

You can’t get a word in edgewise because someone dominates the conversation.

Graphic facilitators can help you design creative and engaging meeting agendas to include different ways of communicating. They also have smooth strategies for making space for all voices to be heard and valued (see also: first bullet).

You had a ridiculously collaborative, creative, breakthrough meeting…Then everyone scatters and nothing happens.

This one is tricky and deceptive, because it’s difficult to track and recognize. Ask your visual partner to work with you to create ways to continue leveraging the charts after the meeting. One way to clarify next steps and expectations is to include time to map out who’s doing what by when.

You don’t know why this meeting is necessary.

Help you team be clear on exactly what you plan to accomplish by creating a visual agenda that you can send out ahead of time and/or hang up during the meeting; Having clear goals and expectations will set you and your meeting up for success. For example, if someone thinks the goal is brainstorming but their ideas keep getting shut down, they’ll probably shut down too. Or, if your team needs to prioritize and make decisions, but new ideas keep getting thrown in the mix, people will often get jaded or confused about what you’re doing and, you guessed it, shut down.

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 are your meeting pet peeves? Let’s hear ‘em, then craft some solutions to get your Meeting A Game back!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Lamar, Colorado:  Rural Philanthropy Days was all about connecting organizations and rural communities with resources and support. We launched the event with a World Café to hear what matters most to participants.

Lamar, Colorado: Rural Philanthropy Days was all about connecting organizations and rural communities with resources and support. We launched the event with a World Café to hear what matters most to participants.

Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming:  Working on visioning with a multi-generational family of wealth with a 100+ year family business and history of philanthropy.

Brush Creek Ranch, Wyoming: Working on visioning with a multi-generational family of wealth with a 100+ year family business and history of philanthropy.

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.