Getting a group of people through a complex or multifaceted discussion is challenging. Different mental models can wrap the discussion around the proverbial axel, and the group doesn’t reach clarity or alignment. But a visual canvas can change that by creating a common mental model, keeping the conversation focused, and organizing information.
In our first Visual Thinking School (VTS) of 2015, we shared tools and techniques the we use to create custom visual canvases.
We started by orienting participants with a collection of visual canvases. Some were examples from our work, and some were from other visual thinkers.
With an overview complete, we shifted into trying a visual canvas so people could experience one before making their own. The canvas we used was a Big Head (or empathy map), where teams of four or five people filled out the template to get inside the head of someone specific.
Here are a few results (from left to right: Oprah, Chris Christie, Hillary Clinton).
Creating A Custom Visual Canvas
Then it was time for participants to create their own canvas. To introduce the process, we made a quick and simple canvas together using the topic, “a family planning their vacation”.
In order to create a visual canvas you need two key things: