Drawing in meetings

David Armano talked on Logic + Emotion a couple days ago about brand as Facilitator, as opposed to brand as Broadcaster.  The implications of this distinction are manifold, and I can’t begin to dissect them here, so go to David’s blog if you want to explore.  For now, I want to point to this distinction as a reason to use visual expression in business.

By nature, some of us are broadcasters and others are facilitators.  Translated to a higher level, we are moving currently from an age of broadcasting to an age of facilitating.  This is not to say either can be dispensed with, but one or the other tends to hold sway in any given era.  If a nation is a world power and a champion broadcaster for a couple centuries, over the following few centuries it is likely to morph into a facilitator role as a different nation takes power. 

In the US of A, major change seems imminent, and we wonder what the role of facilitator involves.  So far it seems to manifest in such phenomena as higher fuel costs, an increase in political involvement, and the creeping “free” economy.  It seems we are being challenged to face the music: to account for our immense energy consumption, for our leaders and their mistakes, and for our commercial recklessness.  In business today, it’s necessary to give generously before you can get.

I’m abbreviating here, but it’s time to get to the point.  If facilitation is what’s required for our country and our businesses, consider how it translates to your daily work and communications.  Consider, for example, how to run your meetings as a facilitator rather than as a broadcaster.  If you have any faith in your staff, facilitating their interactions should bring nothing but satisfaction and success.

And if you’re unsure how to facilitate your facilitating, use drawing!  Keeping in mind that you’re using drawing for the benefits inherent in the activity, and not in order to produce a pretty picture, approach issue discussions in meetings by asking staff to draw, individually, in small groups, or as a whole group.  Practice using the language of drawing in place of the spoken word, at least for short periods of time.  Get a roll of newsprint and tape long pieces of it on the wall, and put a hefty supply of markers within reach. 

As manager or group leader, you’ll want to absorb and analyze the drawings that are produced, and as a group you will draw conclusions from the activity.  There’s no need, however, to save these creations.  Make a few mental or written notes, be sure the group senses they have made progress, and then move on.  After a month’s worth of meetings that include drawing, notice your group’s morale and energy levels as they enter the conference area.  Because you have opened for them the doors of perception through visual communications, it’s very likely that the pervading mood will elevate and a can-do attitude will prevail.

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