No More Flip Charts?

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A facilitator recently posed the provocative question: “The flip chart is declared illegal.

What are other types or methods for collecting and/or displaying ‘group

memory?’” (D. Driver, e-mail to the Electronic Discussion on Group Facilitation,

Nov. 14, 2003). The answers were: stenographer, electronic meeting system, time

line, blackboard, photos, sticky walls, cards on which participants write/draw, draw

on the walls, and graphic art.

In the place of flip charts, visualizers offer large murals or small cards, both

drawn simultaneously during the meeting, that contain images and texts in different

mixtures, prefabricated templates to draw and write into, techniques to

encourage people to do the drawing themselves, white boards, and computers one

can draw on and project simultaneously. There is great diversity in reproducing

the results; they can be printed on paper as booklets, posters, and wallpaper, or

digitalized and put on the Web. Above all, the visualizer integrates visual language

into the process. Visual facilitation is thus more than facilitation plus some

pictures.

Benefits of Visual Language for Facilitation

The participants of visualized events observe what they are saying much better

than on handwritten flip charts and are able to look at the issues directly. Central

themes become clearer, and boring text protocols become at least partially superfluous.

Decisions are made more rapidly. One can present the content of a daylong

meeting within a matter of minutes to someone who has not participated,

and people remember the content many times better than they do text (Horn,

1998). A visual group memory emerges that is the basis for further steps in the

process. All of this enriches the group process and saves time and costs as well.

Quality Without a Name 389

The Visualizers

There are thousands of people who have learned to visualize and at least hundreds

who practice it professionally in different ways. The core of this group is driving

the increasing professionalism of this field.

As shown in Exhibit 23.1, the range of services that visualizers provide goes

hand in hand with various descriptions of the activities involved, such as scribing,

graphic recording, visual practitioning, visual coaching, visual repatterning, graphic

facilitation, and visual facilitation. (See “Key Terms and Definitions” at the end of

the chapter.)

The IAF Statement of Values and Code of Ethics for Group Facilitators also applies

to the work of visual facilitators. So the growing field of visual facilitation belongs

in the broader family of group facilitation as represented by IAF.