Graphic Facilitation….so much better than my notes.

Building on my enthusiasm for graphic facilitation (as mentioned in previous posts) I was fortunate to see Paul Richardson of in action at Welsh Public Services Summer School.

In the spirit of a picture really does speak a thousand words and the drawings are so much better than my notes, here are a few examples of the fantastic work Paul did during the week (as well as running daily workshops, impressive stuff!).

This one is about a reference to the Boston Philharmonic Conductor Benjamin Zander. The speaker, Avril Carson spoke about how Benjamin Zander uses a phrase about ‘playing on one buttock’ to describe when musicians are really energised and engaged. I asked Paul if he could draw it…… I never thought he would, brilliant result.

‘Have I made them stronger and more capable’ is one from Emmanuel Gobillot. Advice on what leaders should do. Nothing more to add. Fantastic advice and a great image.

The next one, a triangle is a bit more technical. It refers to research that indicates in change programmes only 10% of the successful ideas originate with the senior managers. The most useful ideas come from the people closest to the work (no surprises here…….). This was spoken about by Nick Obolensky. I need to dig up the research on this. Unfortunately I failed to write down the source properly, proving the point about my notes being less useful than Paul’s graphic facilitation.

Overall, the images Paul produced have helped me build upon my learning at Summer School, and share it with others. The impact of showing people the pictures I took on my phone has been remarkable. If I had to sum up my experience of graphic facilitation in three words they would be; immediate, effective and long-lasting. Thanks Paul.

So, what’s the PONT?

  1. They are a quick way of capturing key learning points (so much better than my notes).
  2. Pictures really do speak a thousand words. People can effectively understand complicated messages through images.
  3. The impact is long-lasting. I’m more likely to re-visit a picture or print it out and pin it on a wall than re-read my scribbled notes.

If you want to see all of what Paul drew during the week here is a link to the Academi Wales Flickr stream:

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here:

9 Responses

  1. Chris. Interesting posting. I saw the Summer School images and thought they were a great way of communicating. Reflecting on your words. Whilst a picture holds a thousand words, what they also do is stimulate people to associate with the image, creating their own meaning from what is seen. For me this creates new associations that I own, rather than a pre packaged and constrained meaning that I am expected to accept. A little like the impact of great coaching, without words, merely the scars of a flipchart marker on paper. Kindest regards. Dafydd.

  2. olwenmhughes

    How many times in life have I realised that I really only understand something if I can see it? Just about every day. Maps, not spoken directions, get me there. I have navigated my way through Vietnam using a drawing pad as pretty much the only means of communicating and ascribe my fascination with the Tudor period in British history to the amazing abilities of Hams Holbein to tell me what those people were like. I once explained a legal nicety to a boss through the medium of stick people on the back of an envelope – fag packets were famously used for such purposes in the smoky past. Tony Buzan, great grandaddy of mindmapping, got all this big time and it’s sort of why human history hasn’t always depended on writing – from the spirit of a bison in ochre and soot on a French cave wall to the Banksy. To the darker side, dictators like to annihilate makers of images and insinuate their own pictures and visuals into the minds and hearts of their people. I went to Art School – which probably shows (plus I need to bring this diatribe to an end) – and the greatest lesson I learned there was how truly great teachers can make picture happen in your mind and understanding feel like magic happening – plus how few of them there are. I have my theories about this (which I can illustrate!) but it is why we must all get literate as makers of pictures. Chris, this is my ultimate passion – thanks, mate!

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