On August 25th, we set up our Agile Kitchen in Spoor 18 in Mechelen for what proved to be a very inspiring session by Dimitri Bauwens.
Dimitri, Agile coach and scrum master at icapps, gets energized by working with people and teams, and has a special interest in visual facilitation. That is why he was the perfect host for this Agile Kitchen session where he invited all participants to let their inner drawing animal out. Because (self) drawn images can, instead of another load of powerpoint slides full of text, really boost your meetings and keep your audience awake and engaged!
The saying “a picture is worth more than a thousand words” also applies to our daily jobs, so Dimitri took his audience on a visual journey and invited participants to have a go at it.
No experience needed
Before kicking off the session, Dimitri initiated a small ice breaker to get to know each other: a line-up based on experience with visual facilitation. Turned out that all participants ended up on the same side of the line-up, namely the ‘less experienced’ side.
But Dimitri could easily reassure all participants! Whatever you do, however little experience you have, it will always have a positive impact. His message was clear: give it a try and it will for sure be better than before, when there wasn’t any visual facilitation.
A drawing could for example be used as a metaphor, like in a retrospective: a sail boat propelling forward with the wind as a metaphor for the team’s progress, dangerous rocks depicting risks, …
Start with the basics
After this short introduction, Dimitri showed the drawing he had prepared for this session and made everyone dive straight into drawing basic shapes, which turned out to be easier than expected.
His advice is to start with a rough sketch, determining roughly where all elements will be placed.
It turned out that in fact, many shapes (for example a person, boat, animals, …) are just a combination of circles, ovals, triangles, etc.
Add some dots or hyphens for the eyes and the person suddenly looks in a certain direction. Do you want to add movement? Just add the movement indicators you often see in comic books and see your drawing come to life! Or add some shadows, by using a – preferable grey – thicker marker and see what happens!
Of course, in the beginning your drawings might not turn out the way you want them to. But don’t worry, just start over and you will notice, you will definitely get better and faster at it!
Live drawing vs preparing
Do you make your drawings live in the meeting or do you mostly prepare them in advance? Dimitri’s personal preference is to prepare in advance but to add some minor elements live.
Drawing live during the meeting can have a positive impact on the meeting, allowing participants to process the content in a deeper way. However this is only the case if you keep your live drawings really simple to ensure the flow of the session will not be impacted.
Whether you opt for drawing on a tablet or a flipchart, is also a personal preference. Whilst a flipchart might feel very authentic, a tablet also has many advantages. It might be more convenient for online sessions and you can easily play with layers and colours. The choice is yours!
Near the end of the session, Dimitri took requests from the audience and started drawing right in front of our eyes. He drew teams, backlogs, scrum master (with a funny cap), a product owner (with a more formal hat), a backlog with fine-grained items at the top and bigger, rougher blocks lower on the list, …
Participants of this Agile Kitchen session were unanimous: it was a great session but too short, they wanted to explore this fascinating world of visual facilitation much further.
We are very grateful to Dimitri for sharing his insights on visual facilitation and we hope to welcome him to our Agile Kitchen again in the future!
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