It’s not what you say, it’s the way that you draw it!

27th July 2009

In two recent meetings I have been struck by the way people interpret the way things are drawn. As a graphic facilitator, this is something I pay attention to anyway, but the specific thing I have noticed is the UNINTENTIONED MEANING people can add to something because of the way it is drawn.

On the first of these two events, the presenter was using a chart to give some context. He had drawn the information as a process diagram, from left to right across the page. During the discussion after his presentation, he got some push back from the group, which I saw as a result of the implications of the linear nature of the diagram. What was interesting was that he described the situation as a large number of things happening in the environment, but despite his WORDS the group took on the sequential as it had been drawn.

In last week’s meeting, the presenter drew up his thinking onto a flipchart as a series of concentric circles. Despite him SAYING that an item could appear in several rings, because it was DRAWN in one ring, the group insisted he change it.

The point I find fascinating about both these incidents is the intuitive meaning the groups read into the way the information was managed. I know I have bumped into this myself when facilitating. I have chosen to record information in a particular way and the group has read meaning, when I might have just done it to look nice! So, I think there is a useful reminder / lesson for us all in REALLY thinking through the way we record information and possible interpretations that could be made.