Paying attention

Imagine you’re going on a journey, leaving from your front door and heading out to a supermarket, one that you haven't been to before. Now imagine you’re making the journey in a world that doesn’t rely on visual communication. No google maps, no satnav, no road signs, no black and white striped crossing, no red and green traffic lights, no shop sign, no big orange sales stickers showing you where the bargains are, no pictures of food on the packets, no logos… you get my point.


The world would be much harder to navigate without all of the visual clues we rely on. Visual clues that we usually don’t pay that much conscious attention to at all.

It’s not our fault, it can be hard to focus when we’re busy. Our minds are cluttered, our thoughts are turned inwards trying to work through the muddle, sometimes our conscious mind stops engaging entirely and we operate on auto pilot not really aware of our surroundings at all.


So it’s understandable that we don’t always pay attention to all of the visual communication we're seeing and using out there in the world.

But we do communicate visually all of the time by using colour, shape, scale, pictures and text in different ways. Start building your visual muscle memory, being conscious of your visual brain. How? The best place to start is by paying closer attention to what you see around you every day. 

This is an extract from Cara's upcoming book Draw a Better Business™. If you enjoyed this little read, let us know by clicking the "like" below. If you want to be the first to hear when Cara's book is out, you can sign up to our watchlist.

Or, if you want to learn more about working visually, have a look at our online courses

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Working visually in traditional workplaces

Hi, I'm Natasha. Although you haven't heard from me on the blog before, I'm the other half of Graphic Change, and I'm a project manager by trade. For many years now, I’ve worked creatively and visually to deliver projects and change in companies. I’ve seen for myself how a workforce can both have more fun at work but also be more engaged, take more responsibility and be more productive by working more creatively together.

When I talk to people about this, they say things like, “but our work is very serious/dry/logical. I can’t see this working”, or, “I work with very senior/logical/serious people. There’s no way they’re going to respond well to me working more creatively with them.” So I tell them this story…


Before I ran a visual workshop with the Directors of my last workplace, I knew they had mostly been in ‘dry’ meetings, with lots of reading and wordy presentations. That’s what grown-ups do, right? So I prepared them to open their minds to a new way of working, and laid out explicit rules that effectively made me the boss of them…for a brief morning session at least. I created a game of Top Trumps with the list of projects on our wishlist that year and we spent the morning playing the game. We came out with an agreed project portfolio for the year that reflected our 5-year strategy. In 2.5 hours.


At the time I ran the strategy workshop with them, our management team did parallel work with a well-known 3rd party consultancy. It took us over 3 (not fun) days with the consultancy (can you imagine the cost of that in people’s time alone?) to come out with a couple of big spreadsheets. So what happened next? The Directors abandoned the 3rd party work and just adopted my creative approach…it was simpler, it spoke to people, it was memorable and it got the job done. Painlessly. We did it annually then.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see such a side-by-side comparison of creative vs. traditional ways of working again in my career. But it proved what I already suspected from my experience: working visually engages people, it helps them focus, it promotes creativity in idea-generating and problem-solving, it makes meetings more productive and enjoyable and it makes communications clearer. It really doesn’t matter how senior, logical or serious people are…there is something about working visually, standing up, laying things out, voting for things with stickers, that engages everyone on many levels.


Now I suspect you’re thinking that this may have worked in the fluffy kind of workplaces I worked in, but it would never fly in yours. Well, here’s the interesting part…

I worked in highly regulated European banking and financial services environments. Mostly with IT changes. Never with much of a budget or many people (don’t believe everything you’ve heard about banks…). So believe me when I tell you, if I can prove to a bunch of bankers (literally) that working more visually is not only more fun, but delivers better results, then you can do it in your working environment, too!

Graphic Change is a visual thinking studio that works with individuals and businesses helping them to get the benefits of working visually. If you want to find out more about working visually in meetings join our online course Be a Visual Facilitator to learn the skills you need, or if you want to chat through at possible project, get in touch.

If you enjoyed this read, let us know by clicking 'like' below, and if you know someone who will appreciate this post, share it forward.