Why nobody reads your strategy documents

Or meeting notes, for that matter.

Visual Thinking

Blog #1 Header transparentI can help you become a better communicator.

Can you communicate your entire company strategy in one elevator ride?

If not, don’t worry; Not many people can.

At INK we use a varying mix of four unique skills (Visual Thinking, Strategic Thinking, Facilitation and Empathy) to create alignment and engagement within organisations and even societies.

The most essential of the four, Visual Thinking, can help make you a better communicator right away.

Visual thinkers make better Learners, who in turn make better Communicators.

Clear communication is important because we’re busy people. Time has become our primary asset. As such, we’ve become really picky about what we spend our precious attention on.
The use of smartphones alone has dropped people’s attention-spans below that of goldfish (literally: 8 seconds vs 9 seconds). The way we take up information has changed as a result.

blog_image1Needless to say, your 50 slide powerpoint presentation doesn’t cut it anymore. Unfortunately it ends up being followed by few, and remembered by none.

What we need are insightful, engaging and attractive stories, and visual thinking can help you create them.

Just have one look at the popularity of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to gather all the proof you need: 90% of its informational content is visual, and can be consumed in a matter of seconds.

The internet has adapted, but your business probably has not.

So get comfortable breaking out the old pen and paper. Rotate your notebook 90 degrees so you have a nice landscape-format page in front of you. Don’t worry too much about the quality of your drawings at first. The goal is not to make a van Gogh. If it helps you tell your story it is good enough.

How will Visual thinking help you?

1. Thorough Understanding

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Through making drawings, you force yourself to think about any subject matter more deeply. You’ll understand how elements relate to each other better. In turn, you’ll have a better sense of what the bigger picture effects might be of changing some of the elements within your story.

For example, you’ll understand how overhauling your IT system will affect people on the factory floor.

Ink Tip: try coming up with (visual) metaphors for your story. By translating a concept to a different context you can make it easier to remember and understand.

2. Clear Communication

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A visual is much more appealing to the imagination than a 10+ page PDF text document. It can help you communicate to your peers more clearly. It can literally guide them (and yourself) through the story, in a fraction of the time.

Imagine if you could capture your company in such a way, it would only take a few seconds to take it in, and a few more to understand it. Think of the benefits of showing its impact on all levels, and the intermediate steps that will lead to the intended change. A visual can do that.
Now, if you try doing that with a vision statement, without ending up with the same 10+ page PDF document, you’ll get a feeling for the value of visualisation.

3. Insightful Summaries

blog_image4The best thing is: once the visual is created, you can use it again. And again. You can review your meeting notes at glance, or remind co-workers to be reminded of the new strategy through their desktop background, and it will only take a minute.

Nervous about drawing? Take a breath. Relax. Start by just putting some ink on paper. Keep it simple at first, you’re not trying to create a Monet. Simply iterate on your initial sketch until you end up with something you like. Now check its usefulness by practising your story with a co-worker, using your drawing as a guide.

Iterate if necessary, or hand it over to your graphic department to make it ready for presentation. To make it even more understandable you can add in some words to guide yourself, and help others remember your story.

And that is all there is to it! You’ve just created a fun and engaging way to tell and remember your story.

Visuals will never completely eliminate the need for text – or verbal explanation for that matter – but right now visuals have a supporting role to text. At INK we believe those scales should be flipped. We’re using text to support our visuals. That way we can tell our stories much faster, more coherently and let’s be honest: in a much more fun and attractive way!

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