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InfoQ Homepage News Lynne Cazaly on Making Sense Using Hand-Drawn Images

Lynne Cazaly on Making Sense Using Hand-Drawn Images

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At the recent Agile on the Beach New Zealand conference, author and graphic facilitator Lynne Cazalay presented a masterclass on sensemaking. Sensemaking is seen the number one skill for the future workforce, irrespective of role or industry. In the workshop she combined presenting information and encouraging the audience to practice a number of techniques for clarifying ideas through graphical images -- simple diagrams which can help identify the important elements of any narrative and represent them in a style that makes content meaningful.

The Institute for the Future defines sensemaking as the ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.

The description for the session positioned it as:

In this world of relentless change, we need to become better at connecting the dots, gaining insights, and taking action.

She started the session by identifying sensemaking as one of the critical skills for the modern workplace, irrespective of your role. The challenges of the modern environment, where more and more information is coming at us faster and faster, means that we need techniques to identify the critical components rapidly, and also be able to share that information with others easily.

She presented a number of thinking tools that can help when listening to a presentation or engaging in a discussion. She maintains that using simple graphical representation, rather than bullet points and text lists, engages the participants brains in more productive ways, helps establish a common viewpoint on an issue or a problem, and brings clarity and more effective outcomes - she mentioned 25% shorter meetings.

She then gave examples of different visuals that can be used to represent different types of content and ideas, and had the audience draw them as she was explaining.

Rather than try and describe them - here are the images she taught the group:

Images for sensemaking #1

Images for sensemaking #2

Positioning ideas visually

These techniques definitely worked for this reporter, and I used them to make notes for the rest of the conference.

Cazalay has a free minibook available on sensemaking which can be accessed here

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