How I built a visual thinking and graphic facilitation speciality

As an analyst, I spend my days working with data, defining business requirements, calculating, pivot tables, graphs, and analytical work. With an underdeveloped right brain, I set out to figure ways to integrate my creative artistic abilities into my analytical work. It started out with a discussion with a friend over coffee about how she’s using her right brain and I’m using my left. We concluded that I should figure a creative outlet. With that, I went to Target and bought a classic Crayola 64 crayon box. It has yet to be used.

As a management consultant, I’m called upon to explain complex topics to executives and directors and to communicate results to the lay reader. My organic chemistry notes in undergrad were all pictures. I used a lot of picture to illustrate some convoluted concepts.

After stumbling upon a few websites through my regular blogs, I came across VizThink, a visual thinking community blog. After a few hours, I read all their posts and dug through each one.

  • Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin
  • Dave Gray and Sunni Brown’s Gamestorming
  • David Sibbet’s Visual Meetings
  • Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology and Resonate

I also ran out and bought things to help me practice my new skillset:

  • Sketchbook Pro for Mac and iPad
  • Wacom bamboo tablet
  • Two whiteboard and two acrylic boards
  • A lot of butcher paper and many sharpies

At first, my work products were terrible. My handwriting was awful and my drawings were terrible. But with all things, it just takes practice, practice, and more practice.

I’m not there yet. I’m still honing these skills.

In June, I’ll be attending Edward Tufte’s course on Presenting Data and Information. I hope to have him sign my iPad.

In September, I’m taking a course through The Grove International on Principles of Graphic Facilitation and Workplace Applications.

Are you a visual thinker or graphic facilitator? How did you get started? Who inspired yet?

Have you learned something completely outside of your field and applied it? How did you do it?

Published by Daniel Hoang

Daniel Hoang is a visual leader, storyteller, and creative thinker. As an experienced management consultant, he believes in a big picture approach that includes strong project leadership, creative methods, change management, and strategic visioning. He uses a range of visual tools to communicate business challenges, solutions, and goals. His change strategy is to build "tribes" of supporters and evangelists to drive change in culture and organization. Daniel is an avid technologist and futurist and early adopter.