“Seeing is believing” is a phrase forgotten in most office cultures. Dominated by spreadsheets, 20-page tomes, and endless PowerPoint presentations, many offices leave out the power of pictures in communicating a message. Too often, the intent behind concepts and ideas can get lost or misinterpreted when conveyed only in words. And really, who’s got time to read that 20-page report?
“A picture says a thousand words” speaks to our ability to extract meaning from images. There’s a reason why the Egyptians adorned the pyramids with hieroglyphics. Our species is hard-wired to look for patterns, and compartmentalize and absorb information in visual ways. Research shows that most of us are visual learners, more able to get the point through a drawing or graphic.
We are also hard-wired to remember images better than spoken or written words. Research suggests that a combination of speech and images increases retention by 60 percent over just speech alone. Visuals posted on office walls or on blogs and websites can empower recollection and inform others who may have missed a meeting or who work on other projects.
Strategic visualization is leading the visual revolution taking over business and the public sector. White boards, infographics, videos produced via cell phone, and diagrams sketched out in no time flat are popping up in the board room, office hallways, and Congressional reports. Word documents and meetings of talking heads are being replaced by visuals that tell the story as leaders recognize that visual images are an effective way to communicate internally and with customers.
At OGSystems, our team of Visioneers are sitting side-by-side with government agencies and private sector partners to transform the most complex of concepts into clear and eye-catching drawings, graphics and videos. Most frequently, the request coming from leaders is “can we turn this into a picture?” What they do not realize at first is that the visualization process itself delivers value beyond producing a “pretty picture.”
Strategic visualization can involve these steps:
- Identifying the key message for a key audience – This solidifies group understanding and can lead individuals and groups to strategic decisions where common understanding may have been assumed.
- Ensuring everyone involved is on the same page – The act of turning a concept into a visual draws upon diverse perspectives and elicits everyone’s ideas in ways that “talking-only” meetings cannot.
- Weeding through complexity – In a strategic visualization exercise, concepts are pulled apart, dissected to build understanding, and the essentials recombined to drive toward a meaning-packed visual representation.
- Clarifying the process, steps or an idea – Sketching can clarify interdependencies, dependencies, ownership, timelines, deliverables and end products in ways that conversation simply cannot.
- Establishing an organization’s brand – The visual “look and feel” that are part of a concept can communicate volumes to employees and customers. Visualization confirms what and how to communicate, and also establishes the visual cues that guide allegiance, appeal and purchasing decisions.
- There’s one more benefit to strategic visualization exercises – They get groups together and foster exchange in ways that are missed in many cultures. True collaboration is more than informing: it is the power of the many to conceive of and design a solution invisible to the individual.