The first episode of an interview series amongst the bikablo global trainers.

In this episode we have Charles-Louis de Maere, Koen de Keersmaecker, Andy de Vale and Frank Wesseler, who discuss about the use of visual facilitation in their day-to-day work.

The interview is available as video, audio and text. The text was transcribed automatically and then polished, so it may not be at 100%.


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Frank:

It is fantastic to meet everybody virtually for an experimental interview between bikablo global trainers. I like the idea of having a fireside chat. But it’s four o’clock in the afternoon here and virtual fire probably doesn’t really work. At the end of the day, great that you’re all here. We’d like to have a little chat about visual facilitation, but it would be good if you could introduce yourselves first. Shall we start with you Charles-Louis? Who are you and where are you from? How would you describe what it is that you do?

Charles-Louis

Thanks, Frank. I’m Charles-Louis de Maere from Belgium. Proud father of three kids will two teenage daughters and a son that’s not yet there.
How do I best describe what I do? I would say that I focus on making the world a better place.

While being aware of where I can switch or adapt things. I can’t change whole governments, like in Belgium it takes ages to form a new one anyway. So it’s more like coming close to the area talking with people seeing how they interact with one another. I’ve got an IT background. I’ve started with Agile and Scrum. And now I’m also more and more interested into the many, many ways that people can work together via true collaborative workshops, collective intelligence, visualization. I’m also an integral coach, which means that I also do individual coaching programs.

Frank:

And you have a passion for board games, right?

Charles-Louis:

Yes. Yes, I do. I think there’s even a few ones here behind me. But yeah, I always have some board games close to me. Yeah. It comes down to the same thing – talking to people and having some great experiences with them.

Frank:

Thanks. Happy to have you Charles-Louis. Andy, if you would introduce yourself quickly.

Andy:

Yeah, so I’m Andy and work with Work Visible. And so, you know, we mostly deal with helping organizations change; transformations of various kinds. And after doing that for years, and kind of more traditional sense, we’ve got a kind of slightly quirky way of doing that, which uses Visual Thinking and engages large groups of people, and something we call change by adventure. We also do bespoke workshops, and so on, and of course, the bikablo training and we do some graphic recording this type of thing as well. We are based in Scotland and we work and kind of UK, Ireland and Europe.

Frank:

Fantastic. Thank you. Koen. How about you?

Koen:

Hey, I’m also from Belgium, proud father of two sons. And I like having fun in life. Basically, I’m wearing two hats. On the one hand, I’m an enterprise lean agile coach, and trainer. And on the other hand, I founded my own company Bizzuals two years ago, dealing with all kinds of visualization stuff, because I got very much triggered in how people communicate with each other, but don’t make impact. So for me, visualization is a way of having people working together in another way like we traditionally do, and creating a kind of magic impact. Having people telling there own stories.

Frank:

Happy to have you here. Thank you. I’ll also talk a little bit about myself. I’m Frank based out of Germany. And I thought gathering the three of you would be great because I think we all have similar backgrounds. My background is in Lean and Six Sigma business transformation. But now, I also work a lot with bikablo, and am sort of the contact person for the global trainer team. Yeah, and I’m very much looking forward to the discussion to see, how visuals have an impact working with groups.
Before we dive into a group discussion, Charles-Louis, when did you join bikablo? What is it that you do in your day job? Like if you would describe a typical day?

Charles-Louis

So two questions into one now.
I think my first connection with bikablo was by seeing the books and trying to reproduce whatever. As a SCRUM Master, I kind of wanted to make things visible. I heard about information radiator, so I always try to add some icons or pictograms to whatever workshops that we were doing. And then I went to a bikablo training in Germany. It was funny because it was already in March, and suddenly I had a huge snowstorm while going there, but anyway… I really enjoyed the training.

I started using it as a trainer, keeping some important concepts on a poster because I thought, okay, I’m not going to redo all my slides on visuals, but I can keep some key things on posters. And after a while, what I noticed is that I arrived, maybe an hour or so before the end of the training and I noticed that I spent half of my time next to the poster, and that I still had loads of slides to do. But when I looked at the slides, everything had already been said, just by discussing by conversing around the posters.

So I found that there was another dynamic by using these visuals because people could
– for one they could remember better
– secondly, the three or four poses that I had were always visible.
Whereas with slides, I always had the trouble of finding back the exact slide where we were talking that where we were talking about. So there was one thing as a trainer, it has helped me focus more the conversations and be more adaptable to whatever the audience needs.

As a workshop facilitator, well, there’s different ways that I use it. A few easy things are of course, like creating the instructions for the workshop so that I don’t have to repeat it all the time. What is it that we need to do after this and this and that people can see it. But also, taking all the outcomes of the conversations or of whatever panel discussion that there is, as a way of capturing the results so that the team can afterwards take it into their team room, and then they can do something with it.
A bit like Koen was saying about having some impact and do something about it.

Frank

Okay, thank you. And Andy, when or how did you join the global bikablo trainer team? And if there was a typical day in your life using visuals, what would that look like?

Andy

Thank you. For years I’ve used the kind of drawing as part of facilitating groups and this type of thing and I was working with some good friends and one of them said, “Hey, why don’t you come across along to this big bikablo thing in London? Because you’ll love it and it was, you know, two days of drawing and Frank is amazing you know, it’ll be a lot of fun”. So I went along without any expectations other than “Hey, fantastic and going to spend two days drawing and I never get a chance to do that”. And that was I think, sometime early 2017. It was great. And I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I could see how it was applicable. And then we caught up afterwards Frank about, hey, maybe I can train this. In fact, at the time, I had a Visual Thinking course it was half built. So I was looking at doing something similar and I thought, well, here’s one that’s pre built, and you know, it makes a lot of sense. And so arrived early 2018 I think we, I came on the global train-the-trainer and Cologne and I’ve been loving it since then.

What’s a typical day. So I’ll find myself doing probably one of four things.
– So either facilitating workshops with very large groups as in you know, 50+ or
– working with smaller groups or individuals to try and help them kind of build momentum and get change going, or
– in a training setting, or else
– doing remote work.

I do a lot of remote work and use online tools to facilitate that as well. Because typically we will come and do some intensive work, and then go away and do work and support them remotely, and then come back and challenge them again.

So the visual side of it, it’s really so, so, so important, because we find that as a way of getting to people to really connect with the challenge to get on the same page about what they want to do. To get on the same page about what’s important out all of that. And giving people a shared picture to have that discussion around, we find about 10 times more powerful than just kind of meandering discussions or whatever this idea of creating an artifact that people can use to talk around is really super powerful. So the single thing that kind of goes through all of our work is using visuals as a kind of mirror for where people are. And also as a kind of catalyst for getting them to build some momentum and do something.

Frank

Great, thanks. I would like to touch on a couple of things that you said afterwards. But let’s hear first about Koen. When did you join the global training team? And if there is a typical day, how would you describe a typical day,

Koen

In early 2017, I was working for ING as a coach. And all of a sudden, one of the managers asked me to create a visualization training for the people internally. So I did – there was a big opportunity. And while I was looking for information to build my own, which was very successful at that time, I was digging into information and touched upon bikablo. So I sent the mail to the headquarters to ask them whether they were looking for trainers. But at that time, they were only focusing to on the German market. I think six months later, I got an email asking whether I was still interested. And the rest is history. That’s how I joined in late 2017 the bikablo community.

So what I’m doing in my daily life: As I told you, I’ve wearing two hats: as a coach and trainer, I’m using the visualizations and I have an anecdote about that, but I will come back on this later.
On the other hand, as a visualizer. I help trainers to become better trainers not really on the content, but in the way they bring stuff on the scene. I’m pretty much involved in dealing with leadership to sdraw the way they lead, draw the way they tell a story to the audience in change tracks. And on the floor, sometimes it’s hard to get a message across. So sometimes I’m drawing a learning poster to tell the story or to enable people to bring a story. Or I draw sales pitches to enable the salesforce to bring the sales talk to the prospects. And currently I’m working together with two people on two different books related to agile ways of working. And I’m doing a little bit of the illustrations.

To come back on the anecdote:
Over time. I was always walking around with this kind of plastic tube, where I put my drawings in, to have always my most important posters with me. So and I found out that it became a kind of brand, because when I entered at clients offices and I was not wearing the tube, they started to ask me, where was my tube?

Frank

Yeah, this is very interesting. I remember – at one of the clients where I started using visual facilitation, I think back in 2015/2016 – I created posters for workshops, like ground rules, agenda, etc. during a workshop that I visualized. After the workshop people came and said that their colleagues really liked the posters. “Can you draw it again?” and I saw myself copying the same poster five times before we finally agreed that we would just scan it and plot it when people needed it.

I guess it’s this thing within an organization where people start seeing things. Because again, visualization is about seeing things, making things tangible and then they start probably thinking about how could they use it. Of course, if it looks nice; there is lots of eye candy and people are attracted to it.

I heard a lot of different things that you said in how you use it in your in your daily life. For Koen it is a lot about storylines. How can you convey a story using visuals? And I think Andy you said something about having something tangible. That’s what I love: once you put something on paper, it’s discussable rather than a white a white piece of paper. Because it doesn’t matter what it looks like, but at least you put something on paper and then you can start discussing it. Or you know, Charles-Louis, like you said – in workshops so that they have an artifact that they can grab, and they can take it with them. Right?

Koen

Can I still add one more anecdote? At my time at ING, when we were giving trainings, we pushed out PowerPoints. We did the entire talk based on flip charts. And then we just put every flip chart on the wall. It was a two days training and we put every flip chart on the wall just as an experiment. And after day one or at the start of day two, normally you do the wrap up and it’s the trainer that does the wrap up. And this time, as an experiment, we asked somebody from the audience to do the wrap up. And they were really amazing; 99% of the talk was just coming back just because they stand up on the wall and they just used the flip charts to repeat the story. At that time, we started to do it over and over as the experiment just to check whether it was an assumption or it was really the case. And every time again, there was such a big difference between the wrapping up using the posters done by the audience, or it was just people are falling asleep while you do the wrap up of yesterday using a PowerPoint.

Frank

Have you made similar experiences, Charles-Louis, Andy?

Charles-Louis

Well, I had some similar experiences. We also did a completely slides-free training. I remember one particular instance: we had a three day training with the team we were working with. We also invited all their satellites because we talked about changing the way of working, everyone’s impacted. Okay, so we had people who had sometimes never seen each other in real life. We had this training with all the persons and they had made some posters and  we had created artifacts on the walls. We had rented the room in a hotel for that. When we came in on day three, the cleaning crew had completely cleaned the room. I mean, I was really amazed. Amazed is not the best word – I was more surprised. The thing that surprised me the most was the shock on the participants faces when they came back in the room. “Oh, it was really like everything’s gone!!”

It’s interesting – it became really kind of emotional and I can relate to what Koen saying about being able to better remember when you create the poster and when you come back to it, but imagine coming back to a session like that, a workshop, and then everything is gone. And we went to the cleaning crew and like, we went to the hotel, “Oh, no, it’s been done yesterday evening, you know, it’s already recycled, whatever, here’s some fresh paper for you.” And they completely missed the point.

Andy

I had the same experience, I mean, so although with myself, it was one of these rooms where it’s just white walls everywhere that you can draw on – like the whiteboard paint. We’d covered the entire four walls and it was a big room. And the cleaners just cleaned it overnight at the end of the event. So we came in day three, and there was nothing and same reaction, right? It’s all gone.

There’s something intriguing to me about how creative pictures can really change the atmosphere. It’s really changing the environment that people are in and it’s a really compelling thing. I can relate to what you’re saying Koen. It’s a fantastic lovely example of doing the training and just having it all on the walls. And it ties up really closely with some feedback that I had from one of one of my clients. You know, from time to time, we’ll follow up. And we’ll get in touch with people and say, “Well, how are you getting on?” after the fact, just to kind of check in with them. This was with a global company. It was a group of architects and they’re doing global transformation (isn’t everyone these days). What they were saying is like “old worlds”: before they were using visualization, what they would do is they would have a deck. They would go through the deck and it would take about 20-25 minutes, and then they would have conversations about these pretty complex topics that they were having to sort out so that they could figure out what they wanted to do in that locale with the architecture, whatever.

“New world”: they went from that to spending time beforehand to create posters and encapsulate the whole topic. They said there was two effects of that which were really obvious. One was the time it took them to get from arriving, to having people understand and be having useful conversations about what to do next, reduced dramatically. Instead of it being like 20-25 minutes, there were into conversations that mattered within five to 10 minutes. If you scale up across the organization from a communication point of view, that’s a lot. That’s a lot of time. But it wasn’t just faster to get to conversations that matter. They were having better conversations where the understanding was more commonly shared. They were having kind of more insightful dialogue. One of the things that I think this ties directly back to the stuff that you’re saying Koen, is the fact that because you’re seeing everything at once, you don’t have this experience of having to store away the content in your brain in a linear way. You’re going through the slides and say, I must remember that single slide three, you get slides, and three and like that’s long gone and you’re like your brain dead by that time. Having the picture, people can take in the whole picture at once, and they make the connections as people are talking.

Koen

They really in the middle of the entire story. What to me, what’s creating magic (and that’s something I learned from Martin), is that you’re bringing a visual story and when the discussion starts, he was mapping feedback and conclusions directly on the posters. So you get not only the story, you map out also, the feedback and the discussions on the spot where the people are there. And it’s linked to where in the story, the discussion took place. So that’s really, for me, it’s really magic.

Frank

There are a couple of things that I, that I really like about that example
number one is, and I just recently read this in a book, that the spatial memory for us works a lot better than short term memory in terms of somebody tells you something. I guess, if all the posters are in the room, at least you would know where to look. In terms of “Oh, yeah, I remember that was a topic that was there on the wall. That was a topic that was there, etc.”
I always asked myself: If you have a slide deck, you could also just have all the slides printed out or printed on the flip chart and flip them over, then I think it wouldn’t make any difference.

I think the visual facilitation part of it makes a difference of using flip charts. I also think PowerPoint is a great tool, if you use it correctly, so I’m not against PowerPoint at all. I just think if you use flip charts, the right way, maybe even in conjunction with PowerPoint, it can be very, very powerful. But I was always wondering: you could hand out the printed slide deck to people so they could look everything up. But I think it’s not the same thing. I think there is a huge difference to it. Because probably also when it’s all printed, maybe, you have an assumption it’s all there or you don’t take notes.

Charles-Louis

I think it’s not the point. I think it’s not about handing out a slide deck or having the slides or whatever. To me, when I imagine PowerPoint or even the presentation that we had in the past with a projector or something like that, you know … overhead projectors. Yes, overhead projectors, yes, I can still remember those. These things are actually just like a book, which means that they have a certain sequence and it’s the trainer who decided on whatever sequence they have. Now, if we hang posters in a room, for one part of the people that follow the training, they make certain connections in a certain way, and for the others, they can make other connections. Everyone will be able to integrate the knowledge based on how their own brain works not based on the way the trainer’s brain works. Plus, you’ve got this extra flexibility of being able to use the two dimensions of the wall, you don’t have to put everything next to it, you can put things on top and underneath. You can use the whole dimension. Whereas on the screen, you only have one window that you can maybe move about, but it’s not the same as capturing everything in. Like you can zoom out or zoom in on the screen. But having everything at once and focusing on part of the drawing is not the same.

Frank

What I like about this, as well as that usually the participants are part of the creation process. You know, it doesn’t matter if it’s a training or if it’s a workshop, but the part of the creation process rather than something is just presented to them. I think that also makes a huge difference.

Charles-Louis

And it creates another dynamic. In traditional training when we asked for expectations at the beginning of the training, and then we deliver the training and at the end of the training, we check on the expectations. I’m not saying this is a bad way of doing it, because it’s better to do that. The thing is, if you do it at the end of the training, there’s not much room to adapt it. Now, if we integrate the expectations, individuals, we can always revert to them and say, okay, you know, based on the direction we’re taking, are we taking care of this?

Frank

So, where do you see the biggest challenges in using visuals in your day to day work? Where are you facing challenges? Koen said, for example that the training was great and “where’s the pipe on your back” and people typically really enjoy what we’re doing. At least that’s my experience. But in which environment may it be difficult? Or have you faced some obstacles? And how do you deal with them?

Andy

And there’s a pretty obvious one, which is just around how office environments are set up these days. We’ve got this meeting paradigm, which is: let’s all sit around the table and read a document. And that was fine, you know, maybe 50 years ago. A lot of times you go to venues now and they’re just not set up to accommodate this type of work. I had a scenario last year where it was a strategic off site. I was doing the facilitation. We were brought in a little bit late and I said “by rule of thumb, get a space at least double the size you would normally and make sure we’ve got space to move around a wall space”. They couldn’t really accommodate that. We had a boardroom set up with a fancy fireplace and fancy pictures on the walls. No space to do anything. You could hardly squeeze past the chairs. I think that’s quite a common experience: where is your space to hang things and leave things out and work in a spatial and visual way. I come across that quite a bit.
On the other hand it just means you’ve got to be a bit organized beforehand, right?

The other one would be working digitally. I do quite a lot of remote work – experimenting with that on my whiteboard and so on. You can use templates quite easily. But getting people actively hands on with the drawing, there’s kind of a barrier there.

which is an interesting one as well, which is quite fun, but you know, it’s work.

Koen

If I didn’t see the room where I’m going, then I take all my material with me. I’m looking like a donkey coming in with all this material.

Frank

And next time the clients will ask “Hey Koen, where’s the donkey?”.

Koen

That’s how it goes.

Charles-Louis

I think that’s really important because, if people expect me to produce visuals, I want to have good material and I know I can trust my own. I’ve had some instances where I asked, what kind of material would be available? Oh, we have flip charts and we have paper. But then the flip charts are broken because they haven’t been used in seven years. Or the paper is half used, half recycled paper or quite small. I even had an instance when I gave the training in Montreal with Jill Langer, where we booked flip chart stands on the on the on the venue that we booked online. But the thing was, it was just kind of an easel. Yeah, there was no log back. If we put the paper on it, we didn’t have like the heart back to to work on it. So it was like us this and we paid to rent that thing. And so this is like Something, which is to read back on the digital thing most companies I work with now I think, oh, now we’re going digital, whatever. And so finding a flipchart that in these companies yes, sometimes one or two and you need to know where it is in the in the two towers that are like 30 floors high, you really need to know where they are now.

Frank

I think you’re touching on a couple of good things here.

Number one is that, I think we’re spoiled here in Germany, because all of us have the pin boards and flip charts and everything. The assumption is that, of course, everywhere else, it’s the same thing, which of course, it is not.

I used to work for Xerox for a very long time and when the digital whiteboards came out, that must have been early 2000’s where you still had four markers in four different colors and you had to connect to the Whiteboard using USB. I remember that they replaced all the flipcharts with the new technology. So there were no flip charts anymore. You just had these boards, but nobody knew how to use them. In this case I think technology actually was a barrier. And I’m wondering if that’s the case these days as well. A lot of organizations provide, let’s say, an iPad Pro or an MS Surface or some other laptop that has a touchscreen and an even a stylus with it. But the employees don’t really know how to use it. Just like with, e.g. Microsoft Word: you only use 15% of all the options.
I’m really wondering if there a huge gap, and if there is a missed opportunity. How could we leverage that technology?

Andy

Well, there’s a couple of things. I think: one, there absolutely is, but I think on the flipside, there’s also a thing where very little skill is needed. Quite often, we do really informal stuff around visualizing – with no training with nothing, we’ll just ask people to draw a picture of their current situation. And then we’ll take a short video of them explaining it. And generally, it’s hilarious, we spend the rest of our time laughing. But actually just the ability to draw a stick figure or a box to the wind, or a kid’s house is kind of all you need. In that kind of scenario, it’s not a barrier.

But then, to do things that are a bit more structured and can make more sense, I think it absolutely is. I think there’s another side of it, which I’ve observed in the trainings and in the facilitation, which is interesting, when it comes to technology. There’s something very simple about just coming back to pen and paper. Everyone’s used to being in their screen, having these things and all the rest of it and you know, kind of the immediacy of saying: “Well, draw what that looks like”, or, you know the effect in the trainings that lots of people are standing. It’s a very different feeling physically from being stuck at the desk. We get a lot of really positive feedback in the trainings, that they are the best courses people have been on. I think a lot of it’s just because, one, they’re standing up and moving around, they’re moving in big space, and they’re doing something kinesthetic, they’re drawing. So I think there’s opportunities to leverage the technology but I think there’s also opportunities to strike a difference between working digitally and going back to analogue.

Charles-Louis

I like what you say about like the ease of using it and that you don’t need to be very skilled. I mean, stick figures and houses everyone can do that. And like even taking instead of pens, just taking colored pencils, and have people just use their hands. It creates wonders. And in office spaces where people are, I think it brings emotions and human ness. When we interact through computers and digital things, there’s this kind of barrier. We need to get into a different position. And we’re not really connected to what we do. And so just going to the paper is touching the stuff with our hands. It gives us back some kind of control over what we want to say. And how we want to say it. We’re not constrained by the tool.

Koen

Maybe it’s in the context and maybe something different. What I encounter a lot is a cross country environment. So does it still work when it’s going outside the room. I mean, you can make a visual, you can share it, but the interaction thing is not there anymore – when you go out of the room.

Frank

I still think a picture can represent the atmosphere, depending on how well it’s captured. At least it can capture a little bit more emotion than maybe a written document, where we just write down what happened.

Koen

For part of the job. visualization works in that case, but for another part of the job, it doesn’t work. Because it’s just bringing people together, discussing based on visualization. Every day I need to fight against the defense. That they say it’s nice, nice, nice, but how can we share it with for example Mauritius? Because

Charles-Louis

I think on that, I also had this question a lot. And it’s not only about the visuals. To me, it’s more about the facilitating of the event. Because as you say, if it’s like bringing people together, and companies decide to work in offshore, nearshore, whatever environments we have people working remotely, but how do we bring them together? One thing that we are starting to experiment with is, instead of having (and I’m not only talking about the visuals) one facilitator in one place, and everyone connected to whatever connection, I think what’s key is to have someone capturing, be it visually or not, on both locations or on each location. Because if it’s about bringing people together, it’s key that everyone gets to participate the same way.

Frank

I agree. And I would also say that visualization is not a silver bullet. It doesn’t solve all the problems. There may be occasions where it’s not even necessary. I think it’s a great means, I think it helps or supports finding solutions collaborating big time.

And I would also think that across different locations, I’ve seen great examples. People who are using MG Taylor, where they have used cameras, to connect two locations or using stuff like Andy, I know that you’re using Mural, the software, a lot or using Zoom.

I definitely think that technology helps there. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be all digital. I don’t know: It can be just a camera, you can still use paper and then you take a picture, you send it over. I really think that’s where the creativity is key. Where you just think:
how can we leverage technology.

Koen

I understand but then it’s still kind of presenting. It’s not going into interaction – sharing the marker.

Frank

You can. There is whiteboard technology where, people can draw at the same time. And I agree, I don’t think anything beats everybody being in the same room. But that’s the way that we work these days.

Andy

It’s a different thing. And it’s interesting. It’s something I’ve observed as well, not just in the realm of visualization, but in facilitation in general or working in general. We’ve got all these digital tools now. I mean, collaboration online is ahead of where it was a decade ago. We can all collaborate simultaneously on documents and all this type of thing. And something I’ve observed is that once we’ve got this, these great tools, everyone kind of wants to work as though we’re working in the old style where we’re all in the same building. So they’re using the collaboration tools, as though they were still in the same space.
It’s actually a different skill set. I was talking to one of my clients, they are in the US and use Mural as well. What we find is: everyone who provides some kind of software, whether it be Google or Mural or any of the vast number. We’ve all got training on how to use their software, while they don’t have this training on, how do you work in this new way, where you’re working asynchronously, where you’re collaborating on something, and there’s a gap. It’s all based around this kind of unit of work, which is a meeting we’re all together at the same time. I think that’s the challenge and so when it comes to the facilitation stuff, this this point that Koen is making around the sharing this thing, exchange the marker and how do we get that contribution? I think there is a real challenge to see in and any kind of facilitated environment. How do you create the sense of participation and involvement. And it sounds like Charles-Louis, you’re experimenting with facilitators in different locations. When we’re doing online work, we’ll work in a kind of hybrid way where we’ll get everyone together online will set a challenge. And we’ll either break people up where they’re in pairs or small groups online through something like zoom breakouts, or physically it’s like turn to the people next to you draw something play around with something or work on the shared this idea of building something together some kind of shared artifact. And I think it’s that element of contribution is kind of the important thing, but I think we don’t have maybe a really clear toolkit around and things that we can do there yet. People are experimenting lots of things.

Frank

I’m very much looking forward to a story that Danny from Australia and Gill from South Africa want to share. They supported a group where they had the year kickoff in South Africa and Australia sort of at the same time. They facilitated that together. I’m very much looking forward to their story and how they did that. Because again, it’s something that is new, it’s not common. It’s just something where we need to see how we can adapt? Just like you say Andy, right? There is a software you learn it, but how, how do you then start using it and adapting it to the new they to the new way that we work with? Show me? Yeah.

Charles-Louis

So coming on to what you just said. I think it goes into the direction about having facilitators locally. Because if you want to kick off any event with people in two different locations, I think so. I’m also very curious to hear about their story.

What I was going to say  was about the tools. As you said, Andy, it’s about learning how to use tools. I’m always reminded how, at school, I was taught how to use MS DOS, because it would be useful to my future life. And I think I was taught how to use MS DOS, but it wasn’t the skill sets that I needed. I think it was more about how do I work with a computer versus, really like you say Andy, and it’s not just, and we’ve used folders and documents as a kind of naming convention for, for whatever is on our computers, but it’s a different way of working.

Now, when we’re working on the cloud and so on, why do we still keep talking about folders and documents? I don’t know. But I think our brains and our vocabulary also needs to make the switch. Otherwise, we will still be stuck into working the old way with the new tools. And whether it’s the visuals or whatever. I think what’s key, is (and it’s what everyone here is saying) is how do we collaborate? How do we get people together because that’s where the magic is.

Frank

All of us work with people. And I really have to say that that’s also one of my passions. Working together with people – trying to create a great atmosphere, trying to solve problems trying to move things forward. And I think the visualization part and that – they sort of match really well together. Because to me, it brings so much more emotion into this and fun into this. Sometimes fun, I think maybe in business has been frowned upon. In terms of like, you know, suit and tie; and it needs to be straight business and we’re serious. It’s about results. I think that can work together – I really, really do. Because, again, we’re all humans. We like to enjoy what we do. I think when we enjoy what we do, we’re a lot better than if we if we hate our jobs. So bringing that piece into people’s lives. And I think it said, I really think it said because, you know, just like you said, sometimes people say oh, it was the best training. You know, they ever had, maybe because they take off their shoes and because they sit on the floor and they draw. But to me a huge part is really bringing that back into people’s lives and kind of like creating this energy that they enjoy what they do, and that they can actually change something in their in their day to day work. So, so this people think and this visualization part to me sort of really, really connects from I don’t know what you think.

Andy

So absolutely. And there’s a thing where, you do your best work when you’re open hearted, open minded when you’re engaged in what you’re doing. I mean, our rule of thumb is engage, make, repeat and that’s kind of how it goes. For example, we did a meet up in Edinburgh a couple of weeks ago, and it was just your typical 90 minutes introduction. It was based around storytelling and just very simply, you know: take a character, take a setting, take a challenge and take a magic weapon and draw those and tell a story. And so of course, everyone had a lot of fun, but then at the closing off we were saying: so obviously that was a lot of fun – can you see any way that something as fun as that could be useful in a business setting? And of course everyone’s like: Well of course – when there’s all these scenarios coming out! One of the things that allows you to do, is to break out of your current frame of thinking and think about things in alternate ways. It brings fresh thinking to any subject because you’re disrupting it by making it visual by making it engaging. So yeah, makes a lot of sense to me.

Frank

When I started using visuals and I created something different than a bullet list, people start talking and they ask: Hey, can I take the visual with me. They would never have asked if it was just a bullet list. They wanted to have the visual anchor, in terms of the story. Once I visualized a story, and it was really a coincidence, but the hero looked like the person who was actually performing the job. So she said: you know what, I’m going to put that at my desk. So there was really an identification there. I think that was missing before – well, not missing – but at least, you added something to it. I always believe that there’s lots of tools out there that work the way they work, or the way that they have worked before. But I feel like visualization is adding something to it. You know, I would never question that, a specific tool or method is not working. But I really believe that using visual facilitation an add to it. So you either get results quicker, you have better understanding you can make things tangible and invite people to a discussion rather than people think “Yeah, I understood everything” because you know what he said makes sense, but the there was still a misunderstanding.

Charles-Louis

And I think just to show how much a visual can add to the creativity or to the like, open up another way of thinking, like Andy was saying, what I’d like to show you the visual that I made for the training that Koen and I gave earlier this week to show people where the training was.

So, you know, this is just a thing that you can do with some creativity and with some visuals. And it would be so much boring if there was just like, blah, blah, blah training, follow the arrow.

Frank

Yeah, it’s true. It triggers imagination. What I like about pictures is that usually, people can interpret them and then you just need to make sure that there is sort of a common interpretation you know. That’s where the discussion or the dialogue is, it is important that you can talk about pictures.

Frank

Thank you very much. I you know what I mean, I really we don’t meet that often. Virtually, I really, really enjoyed this conversation. And I think we could take it on. I don’t want to say forever. Forever is a very strong word. Let’s just say, for a long time. I’d like to conclude our fireside chat. Anything else that you would like to mention before we close? Anything that you feel like it has been left unsaid, and that’s something that you still feel you’d like to mention?

Koen

In your preparation list, you asked us for some advice when you start using visuals.

Frank

? Is there anything that you would recommend? Maybe somebody you know, has taken a training or she’s eager to use in their business, like what would be a tip that you would give a starter?

Koen

What I always tell people don’t wait for the opportunity to come because it will never come. Just take it up and use it as of tomorrow. Now, because we I have a lot of people that, that I meet after a while and I didn’t get the opportunity. I didn’t use it. I should have done it, but…

Charles-Louis

I can really, relate to this. I remember a training I gave earlier this month, somebody was saying, Yeah, it’s really great, but I don’t really see how I could use it. And I said, just use it wherever. And he said yeah, maybe I’m just going to start to do it to script my role playing sessions. And the good thing Is I know someone who has already done that for a while, like she, you have met her as well Koen. And she’s been scripting her roles, playing sessions forever. So I just put these two people in contact. And so they could share. I mean, she could share with another person like, hey, it’s possible to use it wherever and I think as soon as you find a way where you can use it, then everything becomes positive. Yep. snowball. Yes, yeah.

Andy

Yeah. Likewise, you know, I always say to people, if you can draw it, you can do it. So you know, if there’s, if you’re stuck, then that’s why you’re stuck. If you plan then draw it if you’ve got something you want to do with other people then draw it. In fact, whatever you’re going to do, just draw it. You think you buy something, you draw it and it’s it makes it means visible to you where your head is?

Frank

I remember, at my first IFVP Conference, the International form of visual practitioners, 2016 in Washington DC – that’s mainly graphic recorders. But I think there’s a huge challenge from, let’s say a training towards a graphic recording, where you would say, Hey, you know, in front of people and I stopped drawing.

I quite like that they said, just compare yourself/what you’re doing, to a white piece of paper. Because if you’re not recording, nobody else is doing it. I quite like that comparison. You know, you don’t need to aim too high. You just have to start doing it and put marks on paper. Because I think the goal is not to be perfect. Just start doing something and then learn from it and then improve.

Well, again, thank you for gathering virtually. We’re all in Europe, that makes it easier in terms of time zones. Thank you.

Koen

What’s the next subject is going to be?

Frank

Most probably Danny and Gill are going to talk about their experience with their client, where they had the two kick-offs and how they organize it, how they manage it, what they really did.  I’m really curious to hear about that. Because most of our global trainers work in different regions, different areas, not just regions, but also different areas.
I mean, of course, we could discuss if there are differences about visual facilitation in Asia. Is there something specific to Asia? But we also have many different professions on the team, e.g. coaches. Well, not coaches in the sense of Agile coach or process improvement or something like that, but individual coaches. So, how is visual facilitation being applied? And I really would like to talk about the different facets on how visual facilitation, can be used. And this is not about bikablo, it’s more about how do they apply what they do in their day to day job. So I think that’s what I’m interested in.

Yeah, yeah. Me too.