Graphic Recording (Visual Notes) are increasingly being used across different sectors and different organisations large and small. This in no accident. In an age of complexity of information, there has never been a greater need for ensuring strong and focused conversations. There are many needs for these conversations including; sharing information, developing innovation, building time to think, time to analyse solutions and much more. Graphic recording in a meeting or event has a number of purposes and roles in supporting these conversations and offer a range of benefits.
graphic facilitation. Graphic recording
Recently Health Education North West (HENW) brought together people involved in developing and training some core roles within the NHS workforce. HENW were keen to maximise the potential of the day and commissioned a live graphic record, the record below, it was created live during the event and follows the flow of the content and conversations of the day. This graphic record is a great example of some of the purposes and benefits they can add to meetings or events.The focus of the event was to look at how learning environments were needing to transform to reflect the real and changing world and how services and the networks of practitioners need to collaborate creatively to face these challenges and changes. The first intention or purpose for this graphic record was to bring the stream of conversations together from throughout the day to support people to literally see connections across the day; to help create a visual record and summary of the day that was visible to everyone.
Equally the graphic record acted to create a great focal point during the day where many conversations ensued in the breaks instigated when colleagues came together to browse the emerging record. When the event was over the graphic record was then available in a second life to remind people of what was covered and to keep the learning and conversations alive.
The reach of the graphic record was then extended to many people who weren’t at the event. The graphic record is a condensed and accessible way to communicate a synopsis of the day to those not there. In this way, the graphic record now acts as a conversation starter and encourages a wider inclusion of people to continue and enter the dialogues started at the event.
Whilst a graphic record is intended to be eye catching the absolute focus and intention is to create a visual record that can reach these purposes (and others). So eye catching yes, but always with this clarity of purposes; to convey and distil content, to enable sharing of the content and to encourage people to take the content and take it further… to the next conversations, the next events and maybe to the next graphic record.
The work of a graphic facilitator is not always easy to explain because there are so many potential ways of working. The landscape is populated with almost endless possibilities, many of which are waiting for the next conundrum that needs solving.
A recent piece of work shows one of these potentials, a graphic record was developed live over a number of different events, a section at a time and then compiled creating a 7.5m graphic record that colourfully captured many conversations centred on a pivotal consultation.
The Education and Training Foundation (The Foundation) was entering an important consultation because they had recently been gifted The Professional Membership Service for those working in the Further Education Sector. In receiving this gift and legacy they needed to look forward, talk and listen to existing and potential members and shape the future of the Membership Service they would be offering and supporting. At Engage Visually we went to a number of sector based events with The Foundation to host conversations and to work on the consultation about the service. As we listened we captured key concepts, ideas and issues and added these to the graphic recordings. At each event, a fresh picture emerged and as the picture emerged it would create a focal point of interest. The graphic records would draw people in and they would come across to ‘see’ what was happening; in turn, they would often become involved in the discussions themselves. A number of The Foundation’s staff were involved alongside the graphic facilitator, talking, listening and shaping the graphic recording. The lead for the consultation work at The Foundation, Claire Mitchell, Head of New Business-Programmes and Services, shaped the visual metaphor of the process of a river running through the landscape with different tributaries flowing in and out.
Graphic facilitation was one method The Foundation used in the overall consultation, with the aim of engaging people in a dynamic conversation and at the same time creating material that would support further engagement as the process unfolded.
This work with The Foundation was a customised service and whilst there a number of ‘off the peg’ services that will fit many people’s needs we also know that some organisations’ needs will start with a conversation. The conversation will then create and build solutions, solutions that will always be doable, exciting and most importantly, useful.