visual strategy

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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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!

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

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Fire It Up

Hey folks!

We’re back from co-leading an absolutely stellar service learning trip in Kenya with a rockstar group of students from Colorado State University.

Between the significant time change, over 30 hours of travel, having been trusted with the safety and wellbeing of 12 college students, and having no internet or phone access for nearly 18 days, last week felt a little slow and fuzzy.

Which, in Karina-Speak, means a little frustrating.

Getting back, I was simultaneously fired up to immediately leap into projects and emails that had been put off during the trip, and at the same time I wanted to maintain the blissful state of disconnection and presence that being in Kenya facilitated.

Coming back to winter in Colorado, near our wood stove has been a favorite spot. So, naturally, I’ve been thinking about fire. For me, this month has been an exercise in understanding that all fires –whether they’re in a stove or the heart behind what you share with the world – need the right tending, fuel, and time to burn bright and clean.

Many of us feel the tension between creating space for ourselves and wanting to exceed our clients’ or teammates’ expectations. How do you keep your fire burning?

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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

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Taking a nap…I mean in the Studio…working on several illustration pieces on paper and digitally.

Taking a nap…I mean in the Studio…working on several illustration pieces on paper and digitally.

Mapping Out Complexity  – with a local business with complexity and a big vision. I guided the founder through a two-hour session mapping out all the moving parts, how they are connected, gaps, next steps, and big picture vision. This can be shared with the whole team for transparent communication on the why, what and how of the business in the next year.

Mapping Out Complexity – with a local business with complexity and a big vision. I guided the founder through a two-hour session mapping out all the moving parts, how they are connected, gaps, next steps, and big picture vision. This can be shared with the whole team for transparent communication on the why, what and how of the business in the next year.

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.

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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

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.

How do You Paint what Makes A Community Unique?

You’ve probably seen some cryptic emails from me over the past few weeks about a surprise project I was working on. I’m delighted now to share it with you all, along with a special behind-the-scenes look at what went into the design.

On August 2nd, to the sweet sounds of the Hazel Miller Band, the 100th Piano About Town was officially unveiled as a part of our community! And yep, you guessed it, I was the lucky artist to get to paint it!

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The typical piano process includes a request for proposals from artists sketched out, which are then reviewed and selected for painting outside where passers by can watch the piano unfolding and sometimes even play while it’s being painted.

For the 100th Piano, the Bohemian Foundation wanted to do something a little different and include voices across the community. Enter: a graphic facilitator to conduct and capture focus groups to gather ideas for the piano content.

I listened to people answering the question “What makes Fort Collins unique?”: from seniors to second graders at summer camp to young professionals to those who represent diverse groups at university to musicians. I listened, captured, asked questions, and scribed each group’s conversations.

100th Piano Fort Collins BaseCamp Kids Graphic Facilitation Chart

Then, I took all the charts and began looking for themes. What places did each group bring up? What characteristics make our community special? Then, I sketched out a concept design to gather feedback and refine before painting the piano itself.

This was, to me, the most challenging part of the whole process. How do you distill over five hours of stories, memories, and connections into a single illustration? That’s where the scribe training of listening for themes, distillation and synthesis really shone in this process. It was important to me to make sure all the ideas were included, that key words emerged throughout the imagery, and most of all, that when anyone from the community looks at the piano, they see themselves somewhere in it.

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The painting took place inside so it would be a fun, beautiful surprise when it was unveiled at a free concert series last week. Over 12 days, the landscape, people, and stories emerged!

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Want to tickle the ivories and see it for yourself? The 100th Piano will be in Old Town Square for a couple more weeks, then will live in the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery for the winter.

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For more musings on pianos and creativity, check out this post.

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?

 

On My Way to New York, New York!  This week is the first of three meetings between multiple academic groups and the Mayor of NYC to create models and plans for storm water management and sea level rise in the City of New York. Stay tuned, or check out my  Instagram  profile and story for real-time videos and pictures.

On My Way to New York, New York! This week is the first of three meetings between multiple academic groups and the Mayor of NYC to create models and plans for storm water management and sea level rise in the City of New York. Stay tuned, or check out my Instagram profile and story for real-time videos and pictures.

In the Studio:   Working on the third Wildfire Risk Management Science Team illustrated video. This third video focuses on challenges of fires that cross management boundaries, and mapping tools the Team uses to make recommendations for safer and more effective fire management.

In the Studio: Working on the third Wildfire Risk Management Science Team illustrated video. This third video focuses on challenges of fires that cross management boundaries, and mapping tools the Team uses to make recommendations for safer and more effective fire management.

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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Talk Nerdy to Me: The Science Behind Why Graphic Recording Works

If you’ve ever experienced graphic recording, you know it’s an extremely valuable tool to support groups to do their best thinking. But what is it that’s making the meeting feel so productive, insightful, and energized?

Today, instead of my usual explanation (It’s magic…see, I even just added a Unicorn to your strategic plan!), I’d like to share some of the neuroscience behind the benefits of having a graphic recorder or facilitator supporting your group.

Visual thinking is innate. From the Harvard Gazette: “…the study found that even when [participants] were prompted to use verbal thinking, people created visual images to accompany their inner speech, suggesting that visual thinking is deeply ingrained in the brain.”

Thinking visually helps us remember information better…

  • “People who were encouraged to doodle…were able to remember 29% more of the information on a surprise quiz later,” Wall Street Journal
  • Dual Coding Theory: Information is more likely to be understood and remembered when presented using images and words.
  • Cognitive Load Theory: We have a finite amount of “brain power” to apply to critical thinking, remembering, or being creative. In fact, our brains can remember up to seven chunks of information before we start letting other things go. Using visual cues helps free up our minds from keeping track of those chunks and instead focus on connecting ideas, remembering key information, and creative thinking.

…and to express our emotions more deeply…which, in turn, results in a stronger memory and likelihood to retain information. An article by the Wall Street Journal cited a study that showed more complex emotional communication and processing from doodles than written responses: "Their pictures communicated more than just a text or a regular photo. They were more personal, more intimate."

We all learn best in different ways. There are four ways in which people learn; auditory —prefer to listen, visual—prefer to see, verbal—prefer to speak, and kinesthetic—prefer to move or do some physical activity. Graphic recording can support all four modalities as people hear the speaker, see the images and words, and get up to see the drawings closer, or walk around the view them.

Everyone wants your attention, which means visuals are more likely to be looked at and engaged with. “Recent studies say that nowadays, content is browsed 94% more often if it contains images and is shared 40 times more often in social media if it contains images.” - Visual Facilitation Cookbook

Side note: I could geek out on this all day – in fact a large chunk of my master’s thesis was devoted to using visual thinking to support understanding of the complex science of climate change. For more articles and publications, check out my  Resources  page. If you want to talk more, please  let’s do !

Side note: I could geek out on this all day – in fact a large chunk of my master’s thesis was devoted to using visual thinking to support understanding of the complex science of climate change. For more articles and publications, check out my Resources page. If you want to talk more, please let’s do!

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

Think this sounds pretty neat? Let’s put science into action for your organization.

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

Feeling the ENERGY in Utah.  This week I'm back in Salt Lake capturing content for an Energy Democracy Symposium at the University of Utah. Starting tomorrow...so for now here's a watercolor card of the Irish countryside I made for my Da.

Feeling the ENERGY in Utah.

This week I'm back in Salt Lake capturing content for an Energy Democracy Symposium at the University of Utah. Starting tomorrow...so for now here's a watercolor card of the Irish countryside I made for my Da.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Work Day

Last newsletter I shared my new Kickass Guide to Productivity tool with you. This week I want to give you the Guide Version 2 as well as my top tips for getting the most out of the tool (and therefore your day…and therefore your LIFE!).

Version Deux is a PDF you can fill out digitally so if printing and writing isn’t your thing, you’ve still got a way to use this Productivity Guide.

To go along with this tasty PDF Version, I also want to share 4 tips to get the most out of the tool.

Plan Ahead: Take 5 minutes at the end of your day to plan your next morning’s routine and at least one topic for your Focus Sessions. My expert tip: I have a PDF version saved with my morning routine, start time, and what I’m grateful for already filled out. Then I save it as a new version with the date and at least one Focus Session filled in.

Use A Timer: Simple but effective. If I don’t set a timer for my focus time or my break time, I lose track and the tool immediately loses its power for me. The concept of being hyper focused for a designated period of time and knowing I’ll get a break at the end is what makes this thing work so well. If you just keep working or lose track of time, pretty soon it’s 4:30 and you’re on Instagram again…

Keep a Scrap List Nearby: If you’re like me, the moment you sit down and start to get into a project, something “urgent” pops into your mind. Instead of gratifying the urge to take care of it and get that instant gratification you’re craving, jot it down on a scrap piece of paper and take care of it during a break or once you’ve completed 4 Focus Sessions.

And Finally…Iterate: And yes, I’m using a fancy buzzword to mean don’t be hard on yourself. If you find yourself getting distracted or not getting finished in the time you set for yourself, it’s okay. That’s what the bottom of the sheet is for, to reflect and think about how to improve…then do it! Make two Focus Sessions on the same project, or make it a longer Session next time.

If you want this tool RIGHT NOW, sign up for my newsletter and you'll get a secret link to download both versions of the Guide for free!

Where in the World is ConverSketch?

This week I’m back home working on video projects and supporting discussions on mental health for youth and children. But after a week in Las Vegas at ConEXPO, I wanted to share a graphic recording wall complete after a day talking with folks about solutions they’re seeking and trends they’re excited about in the industry.