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David's Portfolio

  •  HBR "75 Years of Management Ideas & Practice"
    I selected the following large Storymap's as representative examples of my information design work at The Grove where I was a lead designer on the project. Each of them were critical in moving us to another level of confidence and excitement about this big picture way of working. What these photos do not show, of course, is the rich process of facilitated design meetings that we led as a way of generating this material.

My Strategic Visioning Collaborators

  • RachelSmith
    I've included this photo album of some of the people in The Grove's associate network that use our facilitation and Strategic Visioning methods integrally in their work. They are my teachers and I theirs. Collaboration networks are behind most truly innovative, robust methodologies, and our is no exception. Claiming credit as an individual would be like a tree claiming credit for the forest. If you aren't here and know that you should be, send me you picture and a writeup and I'll post it.

Partners for Change Model

  • Sustainabilityplayersmap
    These are two supportive visuals for a Partners for Change model I co-designed with Sissel Waage and Ruth Rominger. It shows how we would bring multiple sustainability researchers and activists together around critical issues and support them to create collaborative efforts in media and tool creation.

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Brian Tarallo

In discussions with visual practitioners, I like to articulate a growing industry trend that I call the "Big Split." Most people come in to this line of work from one of two camps: either they are artists or illustrators and they learn how to take visual group notes, or they are facilitators, coaches, or consultants and they learn the visual side. This doesn't describe everyone in the field, but generally, artists and illustrators tend to be more graphic recorders and facilitators, coaches and consultants tend to be more graphic facilitators (or strategic visioners.)

The PRODUCT of both these practices is similar: a large-scale visual record of the event or meeting. But the PROCESS is entirely different. Graphic recorders do not engage with the group. Graphic facilitators guide the group, employing their visual tools and templates to work the group through structured conversations. I have yet to see a chart produced by graphic facilitation that was as aesthetically pleasing as a chart produced by graphic recording. The flip side is that I have yet to see a group process that was as robust and participatory as when it is guided by an experienced facilitator. The DANGER is that the unsophisticated client could look at the results of both processes and make uninformed judgments of PROCESS based on PRODUCT. The idea that a nice chart equals a good discussion is a natural conclusion, albeit totally flawed.

Before the hate mail starts to fill my inbox, let me quickly say that I have deep respect for the work of graphic recorders, and they have a critical role in the practice. When a potential client calls me and says that they'd like to have a very visual piece to hang in their lobby that captures their successes of the last year, I happily point them to a graphic recorder. But if they have a hard problem to solve, a strategy to design, or a future vision to articulate, they should know that a graphic facilitator will meet their needs.

Here's my ask: to my fellow visual practitioners, we do ourselves no good taking work that is out of our depth, or selling services we can't deliver. Although interest is growing and there are new visual practitioners everyday, the demand far outstrips supply, so we can be selective about the work we do. So, share the love: if you have a lead who wants a top-notch PRODUCT, send them to a graphic recorder. If they want to process some tough topics and have a deeper discussion, send them to a graphic facilitator. If they're not sure what they want, be able to articulate the strengths and weaknesses of both practices to help them dial in on their needs. I'm not advocating stovepiping skills or becoming more rigid or not developing broader skill sets, but know your limits.

This is a growing practice. Our shared goal should be to give the client the best experience they can have based on their need. If we are more collaborative and refer clients to the best athlete based on their needs, we're not slicing up the pie, we're making the pie bigger.

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