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January23

How do YOU invite clients to make their mark in a graphic facilitation session?

I was recently working with a project team to think through a big, hairy, complex, multi-million dollar problem. I was up at the wall, facilitating the team and doing my thing with my markers, when one of the participants raised his hand and asked if he could draw something up on the sheet of paper we were working from. Other folks in the room looked horrified, and I could read two universal thoughts swirling over their heads:
 

1. “But that’s HER paper!” And,
 
2. “Her stuff’s so pretty, you’ll just mess it up with your drawing!”

 
Now, I’m a huge (HUGE!) believer in getting y’all to draw with me, so I was the only person in the room sporting a big-ol’ grin at his question. “Of COURSE!” I replied, stepped on over and passed him the markers.
 
This guy stepped up to the paper and, with one simple drawing of three stacked boxes, focused the team’s understanding of the problem in about fifteen seconds. We spent the next hour creating a solution with those three boxes as the foundation.
 
It was AWESOME!
 

It was also something that can be a rare occurrence in a graphic facilitation session.

 
(Anyone else ever run into those two universal thoughts?)
 
We as practitioners have a responsibility to set the tone of our group’s experience so that those two thoughts get flipped on their heads. We get to extend the invitation to the team that:
 

1. It’s OUR paper! And,
 
2. Our IDEAS and OUTCOMES are the things that are pretty, here. . . not someone’s handwriting or drawings.

 
It’s how we invite and engage others into the process that makes this possible. We as practitioners get to create and maintain the space where it’s not just okay, but WELCOMED for folks to make their mark on the work at hand.
 
Do we get to do this on every project? Sadly, no. Sometimes our clients want the resulting visual artifacts to be nice and clean and pretty so that they can be photoshopped and dropped into important reports, hung on boardroom walls, or some other more marketing-oriented outcome.
 
But sometimes, our work is truly in service and support of the team’s success and there is no other need for our visual artifact than to keep the team focused and moving in the right direction post-session. And when this is the case, we have a fertile opportunity to help our clients make their own mark on the work at hand.
 

So how do YOU like to involve your clients in the visual thinking process?

 
How do you engage folks to pick up the pen and draw out ideas?
 
Post a comment, share what you think, and let’s learn from each other!
 
I cannot wait to see what we draw forth,
Jeannel-blogsignature-leftslant
 

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