Images shape who we are and how we see and understand the world we live in. Images are so powerful that they leave a lasting impact and sometimes even change our perception of people, places, events, and things. Wherever we go, whatever we do, images have practically become a part of our everyday life. In schools, websites, and advertisements for instance, visual feasts make it easier for us to comprehend things, they excite us, and draw our attention, thus creating a better memory recall and a better way of sending messages across multiple channels.
In meetings, workshops, conferences, and seminars, we have what we call graphic facilitation and graphic recording. These methods make use of large-scale imagery to facilitate and record group activities. For many projects, aligning stakeholders on the current state of work and what they are going to do can be quite challenging. This is where graphic facilitation and graphic recording come in and play profound roles.
The Grove patriarch David Sibbet pioneered the graphic facilitation method to help people see their thoughts individually and collectively, and make decisions and communicate effectively. Graphic facilitation allows groups to brainstorm, analyze, discuss, and create solutions that truly work. We use graphic facilitation to help stakeholders capture information about their current state, understand the challenges they face, and bridge communication gaps that might exist.
Information overload can become a communication impediment and what graphic facilitation does is it creates shared meaning, allowing groups to share the same understandings of a problem and find quicker solutions. In terms of diversity, it’s also a great tool in building ideas from different points of view. Graphic facilitation also ensures that everyone is on the same page. Experience-wise, graphic facilitation has resulted to increased clarity and understanding of key themes, improved team performance, and better conflict resolution.
Graphic recording, on the other hand, involves recording people’s expressions and ideas. Graphic recorders or artists translate conversations and simplify them into drawn images and texts. Graphic recording creates messages that have better retention rates, and just like graphic facilitation, it boosts collaboration and ensures that everyone contributes. No one is left behind. It’s a great tool that can enhance our skills in decision-making, team building, and strategic planning.
From Paper to Pixels
Traditionally, we use markers and white paper to facilitate a workshop, but recent technological advancements have given rise to faster and more efficient tools like IPEVO’s wireless interactive whiteboard system. It’s a user-friendly and versatile interactive whiteboard that has unlimited colors. You can instantly save information on a cloud system. And unlike traditional graphic recording and graphic facilitation tools, this whiteboard system allows you to store meeting history data. If you make a mistake, it’s easy to track and modify it. The system is paired with video projector and supports up to four users who can work together on the same whiteboard.
Of course we know that the traditional paper method is here to stay. However, we are quite confident that wireless interactive whiteboard systems would become extensively popular in the next years to come, making graphic facilitation a central place for business decision making.
We’ve come to a time when more and more people are greatly becoming dependent on visual information and experience. In today’s digital age, capitalizing on the various audio-visual communication tools can allow businesses and organizations to better manage their staff and daily operations. Images don’t only have the power to persuade us and change our beliefs. More importantly, images have the power to deeply connect us with others and reframe the world into a more sustainable one.
The future can be both exciting and frightening. Technological advancements, rapid globalization, socio-economic changes, disruptions, and rising competition are making it harder for people, businesses, and organizations to predict what will happen next. Picture yourself as a project manager. You hold responsibility not only for the communication aspect and assurance of a successful project delivery but also for the risk management and monitoring of the project. The most important question to ask is how can you forecast the future with a degree of certainty? How are you going to prepare and plan for things?
The Delphi method has long been used by various sectors and organizations as their “go-to” method in forecasting situations. It’s a method created by nonprofit global policy institution RAND Corporation which is utilized extensively in the USA. The principle of Delphi is quite simple. It supports the integration of the opinions and thoughts of independent experts. It supports consensus decision-making and is based on the intuitions and insights of experts. The Delphi Method is a prospective/foresight method that allows experts to be surveyed in a repetitive way.
Identifying Future Probabilities
A lot of businesses and government offices utilize the Delphi method to stay ahead of the curve. Bell Canada, inarguably Canada’s largest telecom company, was one of the first businesses to apply the Delphi techniques in their studies. Bell Canada used the Delphi method to determine the future of technology and its function in various life aspects. India’s largest heavy electrical equipment firm BHEL also utilized the Delphi technique. The studies yielded positive results and identified the probability of the development of 19 new energy sources. Results derived from the Delphi method can be used by businesses and government institutions for long-range forecasting of the organization’s future. Results can also function as a highly valuable tool to fuel innovation since companies or groups can furnish the information to specialists in their organization.
In 1964, an experiment regarding the probability of nuclear war across the globe was conducted. Using the Delphi method, majority of the experts who were asked said that a nuclear war was highly improbable. Five more rounds of workshops were conducted thereafter, asking the experts the same question. After a long debate, all experts agreed and reached to a conclusion that the probability of a nuclear war was imminent. As we can see through the six workshops, the experts progressively aligned their thoughts towards the same conclusion that nuclear war was inevitable.
Back in 1964, the possibility of an international nuclear war was what prospective specialists called a “signal”. A signal is a piece of information, an idea in the air we could bring on the table and analyze as a future possible. The idea of an international nuclear war was a possibility in the mind only of an extreme minority. This signal could have been neglected to the benefits of other signals. But in this case, the signal was utilized as the subject for the experiment, driving the conclusion that prospective is highly political.
Why? When the prospective specialist chooses to analyze a signal and bring it to the table for debate, he takes the risk of seeing this signal becoming a generality for the group of attendees and the general public by contamination. In other words, a simple idea about the future becomes a generally agreed upon concept for the society. The Delphi method illustrates the tendency of human behavior to align their point of view regarding the future possible around a single “correct” answer.
Consensus vs. Visioning
The Delphi method also has its fair share of misuses and disadvantages. The misuse of the results from the Delphi method can have damaging effects to a company. Information leakage can happen because there’s a tendency for some public relations officers to immediately release the results of the study, believing that the information they have are necessary to their company’s present situation. Some organizations also treat the results as the backbone of a company policy when in fact it’s supposed to simply aid a company in their forecasting or problem-solving process. Some detractors of the Delphi method say that the Delphi technique is more about building consensus rather than visioning. Consensus leads people to believe that their inputs have been taken into consideration but that they need to support a decision that is in the best interest of the whole. Visioning, on the other hand, involves envisioning a picture of a project’s success in the future. Stakeholders develop a shared vision of the future. Indeed the Delphi method is a means to achieve consensus among experts, but it does not disregard the ideas and visions of stakeholders as well. And this is evident in the studies conducted by BHEL where they developed an open-ended questionnaire to gather as much data as possible on possible breakthroughs that can be developed in the future.
Asking is Essential
In the recent time, politics from around the globe built consensus around concepts like the shared economy, crowd sourcing, global warning, women empowerment, and trans-humanism. Are these concepts vision-derived or consensus-derived serving the interest of political and economic leaders?
When we see the outcome of prospective exercises, we must learn how to ask questions. Is this future desirable? For whom is it desirable? Who would benefit from it? Is there another future possible? Are we speaking about vision or consensus? Do we really want to give people the choice to decide about the future?
Whether we personally consider the Delphi method a bane or a boon, what holds true for this method is that it will remain a viable technique for a long time in long-range forecasting.
Patrick Roupin is an expert in innovation, design, strategy & entrepreneurship.
Ashrefunisa Shaik is an expert in organizational transformation & sustainability.