You, Me and Pictures Part 1
Making Thinking Visible and Peering
By Linda Yaven
peer: to look very carefully
peer: somebody who is equal to another person
This afternoon my nephews Eli, 9 and Zach, 8, were playing on the front porch with toy boats, cars and planes. Suddenly I heard the cousins squabbling and Eli shouting “But just imagine it, Zach! Imagine the scene!” Zachary, being an articulate fellow, was shouting back “I don’t know what you are talking about! I can’t imagine it! It’s stressing me out to try!”
Each of us has a unique relationship to the domain of the creative.
In Zach’s case, seeing is believing. I know his imaginative capacity shows up in math, music and dance. Yet this simple exchange between children echoes the cultural conversation between logic and intuition, left/right brain, image/text and quantitative/qualitative thinking.
A few days ago a colleague e-mailed exuberant about a project to ask: “How can I make my thinking visible?” A savvy question because whenever we are wrapped up in data we can easily lose a handle.
An emergent category is surfacing in the pressure cooker of business innovation called Making Thinking Visible. Since 1999 along with colleagues and graduate students I have been designing/implementing MTV curriculum, recently adapting it for business.
I have identified here its advantages as a strategy for interactive research. Part 2 of this article will focus on MTV as a strategy for building cohesive teams swiftly.
1. Making Thinking Visible furthers thinking by making a line of inquiry visible.
We usually think of documentation as a something moribund and conclusive. At the core of MTV, however, documentation is a responsive, interactive dynamic and a mirroring tool for a chosen cycle of inquiry.
MTV is an improved discovery session for researching desired topics. It makes use of digital/non-digital documentation, unfolds in specific, successive phases with custom tailored goals unique to the people putting it into play.
Although it uses visuals alongside words it does not require a visual skill set; in a recent training there was audible relief to discover how accessible it is. It puts participants in a good mood by providing understandable ways to test out ideas, gain control of unwieldy processes and elicit diverse lines of inquiry for higher order outcome.
2. Making Thinking Visible for whom?
MTV is for individuals, teams and for showcasing work to those “outside” a process. It demystifies the fog that so often adheres to creativity and, paradoxically, originates penetrating questions. It produces a font of graphic evidence.
For INDIVIDUALS In my colleague’s case she is asking for a way to articulate her own thinking back to herself. Her question opens another one addressed by MTV: “How do I find out what I don’t know I don’t know?”
For TEAMS MTV articulates team thinking – collaborative intelligence – back to a group.
For SHOWCASING MTV provides visual evidence of a cycle of inquiry to “outsiders”: clients, customers, managers, peers – so others can follow the footprint of a thinking process.
Not long ago I got a call from a client in Wisconsin
In each case the visual evidence produced by an individual or group during MTV is a tangible reflecting tool allowing all to revisit a process lucidly - to cull, edit, edify thinking and enlighten others about what you are up to. It counters dull power points or “here’s the binder” learning.
MTV is a smart way to showcase case studies, create cogent presentations, research new products and ideas, roll out a rising strategy/brand and enlighten clients, customers, VC’s.
Providing visual evidence improves positioning and builds trust with clients/customers because it demos control through process articulation. It is also a strategy for finding out what clients and customers are thinking: a role can be designed for them in MTV.
It is as if we live a mile wide and an inch deep. MTV is an Rx for that.
PART 2 OF “YOU, ME AND PICTURES, BUILDING COHESIVE TEAMS” FORTHCOMING. TO RECEIVE, VISIT www.lindayaven.com CLICK “SUBSCRIBE”
© 2007, Linda Yaven. All rights reserved. Want to use this article in your e-zine or website? Yes, you can, provided you make all links live and include this copyright and by-line below.
Linda Yaven is a professional speaker/consultant on MTV and innovation. She has presented at AIGA, Innovation Immersion for Fortune 500 and The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. She has served as an Advisor/Documenter at Making Learning Visible Institute, Harvard and is completing a one hour documentary on design thinking called “Teach Us Something in 7 Minutes”. Contact her at http://www.lindayaven.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-594-3602.