Thinking Visually, at The New School’s Design x Convergence Conference

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Shedding Light On Strategic Design: Graphic Recording at Parsons’ DESIGNxCONVERGENCE Conference 

It’s the great irony of strategic design that when it works well—when it communicates clearly and effectively—it hardly even registers. Think about the NYC subway map, highway markers, or even product packaging. Most people only notice them when they are unclear, when they don’t work.  

But at ImageThink, our graphic recorders are constantly thinking about how visuals can be used to enhance communication, clarify challenges, and identify solutions. We’re the design nerds who notice the subway map and the font on the highway markers.  

Last week’s Strategic Design Conference, hosted by Parsons School of Design, shed light on what it means to use design thinking to make an impact on the world. Thought leaders across industries met to discuss the trajectory of their work, hold workshops, and lead keynotes.  

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Our graphic recorder capture key insights throughout the Strategic Design Conference in sketchnote form.

Topics ranged from the future of sound to artificial intelligence to the particular gracefulness of the octopus. Even in the diversity of sessions, key principles resonated across the board: Successful design must stem from an empathetic perspective; it must enable collaboration and collaborative problem-solving; it must take a holistic vantage point of its place in the world, and it must engage with people emotionally as well as intellectually. 

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Nora Herting and Lilly Lam led a visual thinking workshop to a sold out room of design students and professionals.

Visual Thinking for Collaborative Solutions 

At ImageThink, we happen to believe that visual thinking can address all of those principles! Parsons invited ImageThink co-founder Nora Herting, and graphic recorder Lilly Lam, to lead a workshop on Visual Thinking. Because DesignxConvergence attendees were largely either design students or professionals, we decided to kick the visual thinking workshop up a notch. Pulling from graphic facilitation templates, ImageDrink drawing games, and Draw Your Big Idea, Nora led participants through drawing exercises to identify challenges and collaborate on solutions.  

Visual thinking is a powerful tool to unveil previously invisible connections between ideas, unveil new perspectives, and enable innovative problem-solving. It’s the backbone of the work we do for clients during internal strategy session, and it’s a skillset we strive to gift to participants of every workshop we run.  

In the sold-out workshop, Nora and Lilly led drawing exercises to help attendees address problems holistically and to crowdsource solutions.

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Workshop attendees used a comic-template to identify challenges, desired future states, and help each other find the bridges to get there.

Mapping Strategies Through Graphic Recording  

Beginning with a comics-jam adapted from ImageDrink, participants in the workshop identified a current challenge and a desired future state. But visualizing concrete goals was only the beginning. The comic format gave each participant a chance to crowd-source three unique potential solutions to their challenge from other folks at the table. 

Finally, workshop participants mapped their chosen solution onto a template in order to identify the discrete action items that would spell their success. The visual exercises allowed for seemingly overwhelming obstacles to be broken into manageable tasks. Even better, it one person to gather the wisdom of a group of their peers in an energetic and efficient way.  

Bring The Graphic Recording Workshop Home With You! 

Looking to bring strategic design into your own office? Get in touch with our account managers to learn about our customized graphic recording workshops or check out Draw Your Big Idea for more great visual thinking exercises from ImageThink. 

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