Drawings and Dunes: ImageThink’s Visual Thinking Workshop at GISC

business leaders learn graphic recording in the visual leadership workshop hosted by gisc and imagethink in cape cod

Participants break out the markers, at last year’s Visual Leadership Workshop.

Unlock Leadership Skills With Visual Literacy

The sun is out, and the beach is beckoning. It’s nearly time for our annual Visual Leadership Workshop in beautiful Cape Cod! Led by co-founder of ImageThink Nora Herting, and supported by GISC faculty Sky Freyss-Cole, these management classes will introduce strategic tools that will help you clarify goals, increase your leadership impact, energize meetings, and make complex issues understandable… all by putting marker to paper.

The workshop is designed for anyone who wants to learn to incorporate graphic facilitation and visuals as a tool for greater effectiveness in leading and engaging group, and this year it will be held August 8-10, 2018.

An Interview with Visual Leadership Grad, Lisa Morton

As we get closer to this year’s retreat, we reflect with Senior R&D Manager at SAS, and Visual Leadership grad Lisa Morton, to talk about what she took away from the workshop.                                                                             

Why did you decide to enter the Visual Leadership workshop? What challenges were you hoping it would help you overcome, and what skills were you hoping to gain?

I’ll be honest. I wanted to take the workshop primarily because Nora was co-teaching it. I look up to her as a mentor and admire her work very much. I reasoned that Sky would be just as strong a teacher as Nora. And I was right. Knowing that the workshop was going to limit the number of participants was also a plus. I was looking for a few days of focused practice in a different environment to learn how to better think on my feet in front of a group and better trust my abilities. Traveling to Cape Code from North Carolina to do this sounded like a great adventure to me.

This workshop helped me develop a process to harness the equal power of words and illustrations used together.

Before the workshop, did you picture yourself as a visual thinker, or was this a completely new endeavor for you?

(“Picture myself as a visual thinker”! I see what you did there!) I’m an artist who likes to draw so that part was not a completely new endeavor for me. I used this time to think about and practice how to better and more effectively integrate pictures and words to communicate messages. Before this workshop, I relied heavily on text. This workshop helped me develop a process to harness the equal power of words and illustrations used together. It also helped me think more about how to illustrate words to enhance their definitions – kind of a visual onomatopoeia. I also learned how to take my time at the board – how to start a concept, keep up with the flow of conversation to capture key points but know when I could return to loosely sketched concept to add more detail and color if I wished.

a business leader uses graphic recording to create a template for a conversation
The Visual Leadership workshop teaches participants graphic recording skills, including how templates can be used to lead conversations.

Was there an “aha!” moment for you during the Visual Leadership workshop?

Yes.  A couple. The most memorable one was Nora’s suggestion that I add drawings of people to a large illustration to show the steps of a certain work related process. The steps of the process were all there – but the people who benefited from the process were missing. Adding a depiction of those people brought a different dimension, a warmer perspective to the entire piece. Since then, I’ve always tried to incorporate some element of human touch in a graphic recording – whether it is drawings of people or hands, eyes or even feet (once or twice). It makes sense to include these human elements in a graphic recording that is clearly hand drawn. People can more readily relate to it when they see elements of themselves in the drawing.

What was your favorite visual leadership exercise? Why? 

Oh!  I always like a good icon jam.  It was so fun to gather a list of words that me and my fellow graphic recorders struggled with depicting.  It was great to have someone point to one of my icons and say, “Wow!  That’s perfect!  Can I use that?”  And it was equally great to see someone else come up with a solution sketch that I could point to and say, “Wow!  That’s perfect!  I’m so stealing that!”  It felt as though we were building a community. 

Also Pictionary was a great way to blow off steam, get to know other people in the group and laugh a lot.  To see a bunch of graphic recorders and visual thinkers split into teams to play Pictionary was not for the faint of heart.  We really threw down and it got quite competitive.  It was a hoot!

It is not hyperbole to say that Nora and Sky helped me feel as though I belong at the front of the room drawing what everybody else is saying.

How has your experience working with Nora and Sky changed the way you work with your team? 

My time at the workshop was very special to me.  Nora and Sky helped me gain confidence in myself as a graphic recorder in surprising ways.  Each day I use the facilitation skills I learned in the workshop in team meetings, roadmap discussions, presentations and at conferences.  Before every big drawing gig, I get nervous – but then I hear Nora saying, “The person with the pen has the power” and Sky encouraging, “Stand strong and be the calmest person in the room.”  It is not hyperbole to say that Nora and Sky helped me feel as though I belong at the front of the room drawing what everybody else is saying.  They helped me learn how to create my own space while working live in front of an audience without taking thunder away from the speaker.  I want to add to the experience to enrich it for everyone involved and to make the message memorable. 

What was the best meal you had while in Cape Cod? 🙂

We stayed at the Southfleet Motor Inn and had breakfast most every morning at the neighboring Van Rensselaer’s Restaurant and Raw Bar.  So good!

Ready To Get Visual?

You’ll probably have to sign up for next year’s workshop in Cape Cod, you can still contact us to set up a custom workshop and bring our graphic facilitation experience to your team.

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