All right. This year's KM4Dev workshop took place. Yes, it was in Brussels (which I rather liked, despite of the cold and the rain) - fun, and stylish city. And yes, the workshop was incredible - so many interested and confusiastic people joining efforts to learn together. A real organism. There's nothing like the real thing.

On the third day, we did an Open Space. As part of that, Nancy, Binetou, Annette, Lilia, myself and a few others spontaneously huddled together to reflect and converse about Graphic Facilitation. We did our experimenting on the paper Nancy started as part of summarizing the reports from the different thematic huddles. As we went along, we experimented with colours (pastels and markers), smudging, erasing, arrows, icons, title letters and subtitle letters, bees and butterflies, well, we did it all, pretty much I think. We had colours all over our hands and clothes (Binetou in particular ...). Here is what it looked like, in the end:


We could see, together, why Graphic Facilitation is good to do, what we should definitely do when we graphically facilitate and what we should try to do when we graphically facilitate.

Why Graphic Facilitation is a good thing to do:
- it helps to reduce complexity to simplicity, i.e., discussions can be complex and illogical and the only way of capturing them in order to make sense of them might be in a graphic drawing sort of a splash.
- it is there to conduce the thoughts of a group to a meaningful message or statement.
- it makes the discussions more interesting, with more modalities in which they take place happening in parallel, which helps people to make sense and learn.
- it can get people who are part of the discussion more involved according to their own taste and preference, i.e.:
---- participants can be invited to participate in the drawing, or start doing it without being invited.
---- some participants may prefer using their visual (short-term and long-term) memory as they learn instead of memory for letters and words. this way, they would welcome the graphic dimension.
---- some participants may want to be actively involved in the discussion but meanwhile may feel they have not got much to say - synthesizing the discussion in the form of graphics/drawings enables them to be active, learn from/for others and for themselves.
- it can help with post-discussion/post-event reflection, by people looking at and commenting on the masterpiece, or adding bits and pieces to it.

Things we should definitely do when we do Graphic Facilitation:
- have a good set of colours at hand.
- know the subject (as much as possible) before the discussion takes place.
- think of icons that synthesize classic archetypal sorts of concepts (such as agriculture, cars, people, change, evolution) and be prepared to quickly draw them.
- be creative and have fun.
- be open to the inputs of others.

Things we should try to do when we do Graphic Facilitation:
- use non-permanent markers.
- start with light colours, smudge them, then use darker colours.
- put all the drawing ''tools'' somewhere where they are easy to reach without having to constantly bend (may give your back problems).

And so you think this is just pictures, drawings, no serious work? Think again. There is nothing like learning by experimenting, bringing novelty in and having fun. If we want better work then we need better learning and so then novelty, multiple dimensions and fun are key.

Some sources:
http://graphicfacilitation.blogs.com/pages/graphic_facilitators/
http://www.grove.com/site/index.html
http://www.mediate.com/articles/ball.cfm

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