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Visual Thinking Training Course


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, yet we continually rely on words to process information, solve problems, communicate and present ideas. In today’s diverse workforce of multi ethnicities and virtual teams, communicating effectively is more important than ever before.

Course Aim

This programme aims to teach practical visual tools and techniques to solve problems, think through issues and communicate clearly. It will draw upon the work of Neil Fleming and his VAK model for learning styles, Tony Buzan’s Mind Mapping, Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving model and many others leading theories.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course delegates will be able to:

  • Demonstrate visual and creative thinking techniques which help reawaken natural visual and creative skills in both yourself and your team
  • Communicate your thoughts and ideas quickly and effectively using visual methods
  • Explain tools that will help you have flexibility of thought, generate new and different ideas that your competitors haven’t thought of yet!
  • Demonstrate how to get buy-in in way that will have all stakeholders smiling, creating real change in the business

Course content

  • Welcome and Context       
  • Cocktail party game
  • Opening energiser for participants to get to know each other
  • Overview of three days
  • Share objectives and agenda
  • Interactive exercise: Hope and Fears – begin using visual thinking
  • Using postcards of different images, choose an image that attracts you
  • Looking at the image for inspiration, write down 3 hopes for the course, and 3 fears
  • Pick 1 of each and share it with a partner
  • Then share it with the room
  • What is Visual Thinking?  
  • Background theory
  • How humans learn – a look at VAK model (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic)
  • The brain and visual thinking
  • Our brain in the digital age vs our brain 60 years ago
  • Interactive exercise: What is your preferred learning style?
  • Visual Thinking application          
  • Energiser – The fortune teller
  • Using a story telling game as a way to help the brain think visually and energise the group
  • How to capture information visually
  • You don’t have to know how to draw to use visual thinking
  • Interactive exercise: Words to images
  • Using the worksheet provided, practice translating words into images
  • Share with a partner
  • Notice all the different ways to represent the same word
  • Visual Thinking in business
  • Teach graphics for creating meeting agendas, meeting reports, timelines, project plans
  • Interactive exercise: graphics for daily use
  • Translate the samples of these common business documents into something visual
  • Your personal vision using metaphor     
  • The importance of vision
  • Overview of company visions
  • Why visions are important, and how to best create a vision
  • Metaphor as an effective visual thinking technique
  • Introduce metaphor as an effective visual thinking technique
  • Interactive exercise: Your personal vision – create your idea city!
  • Using coloured pens and big sheets of paper, participants are asked to create their ideal city.
  • They then translate the metaphor to articulate their personal vision
  • Share with a partner
  • Introduction to Creative Problem Solving           
  • Mark your territory game
  • Opening energiser game to get the group moving and also look at their assumptions
  • Overview of the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving process (CPS)
  • Exploring difference between innovation & creativity
  • History of CPS
  • Examples of companies who use CPS – BP, HSBC, Disney etc.
  • Interactive exercise: Introduction to Divergence and Convergence
  • Using images to explore how far we can take our creative thinking
  • Identifying your problem or challenge    
  • Identifying the problem
  • Interactive exercise: draw the problem
  • Draw the obstacles or challenges you face that may stop you from achieving the vision you created yesterday
  • Draw what it looks like now, and how you would like it to be.
  • A partner will then interview you about the drawing to try to articulate a long list of challenges (diverge) and then help you to select the challenge you need to solve first (converge)
  • Assessing the situation     
  • What is the current data about your challenge?
  • Interactive Exercise: Mind Mapping
  • Create a Mind Map of all the facts about the current situation, include: who, what, where, when, how, why
  • Interactive Exercise: Wall of data
  • Using magazines, find images to represent the data creating a wall that is a mixture of words and images to represent the current situation of the challenge
  • Generating ideas    
  • Introduction to various divergent idea generation techniques to help solve the challenge:
  • Other people’s shoes – how would different famous people solve the challenge?
  • Storyboarding – in each of the 6 squares on the page, draw a story of how the challenge can be solved
  • Observation walk – go for a 5 minute walk, write down all that you see. Come back and use that as stimulus for ideas on how to solve your problem
  • Interactive exercise:
  • In groups of 4, with one person being the problem owner, apply the above techniques brainstorm the different ways to solve that person’s challenge
  • Converge
  • Introduction to convergent techniques to help select the best idea to move forward with.
  • Each group selects the best idea to move forward with
  • Turning an idea into a solution
  • Yes and/ yes but
  • Opening energiser game to get the group thinking about keeping an open mind
  • Turning your idea into a solution
  • Making an idea strong to get buy-in from stakeholders
  • Interactive exercise: Strengthening an idea
  • In the groups of 4 from the previous day, draw out how your idea works add who is involved, what is needed
  • Use this drawing process to notice the gaps in the idea, and what you can add or take away from the idea to make it work
  • Creating an action plan     
  • Explore how to create an action plan using graphics, look at the ideas explored in day 1
  • Interactive exercise: Action plan
  • In your groups, create an action plan for implementing the idea, using a mixture of graphics and words
  • Presenting your idea          
  • Show videos of presentations gone wrong
  • Teach elements of a great presentation
  • Explore the ways we can present an idea – remember VAK!
  • Interactive exercise: Create your presentation
  • Each group creates a 10 minute presentation to present their idea to the group
  • Use all the elements of VAK and visual thinking graphics that were learned in the 3 days
  • Group presentations
  • Each group presents an gets feedback
  • Closing
  • Questions, thoughts
  • Interactive exercise: Never ending puzzle
  • A visual activity to close the group

Learning approach

We propose working on real business or personal content. With real content, participants will learn the tools and techniques, while immediately applying them to real life. We also suggest splitting participants into teams and creating a competitive event where they have to present their solutions on the final day to the rest of the group.

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