Do Not Just Strategize - Visualize

March 12, 2024 by Tina Žagar

Developing a comprehensive strategy involves aligning diverse stakeholders toward a shared vision and action plan. At the CEF, we engaged different stakeholders, such as staff, governing and advisory board members, and partners, in meaningful consultation discussions. However, the question remained – does everyone in the organization share the same picture of the future we are working towards? Do we speak the same language? How do we know that?

To validate our objectives and check if what was written made sense, we engaged a visual, graphic recorder to visually depict our strategy before its launch. This process involved several meetings during which we in detail presented our understanding to the visual recorder. The conversations involved a lot of questioning, going back and forth to make sure the right and relevant information was being shared. By thoroughly discussing and refining the information during these meetings, we ensured that the final visual depiction accurately reflected our strategy. This attention to detail and commitment to clarity enhanced the quality of the strategy visualization. We as content experts, and the designer as the visual expert co-created the best possible result.

visualizing @DALL-E3

The strategy visualization brought about several advantages that benefited our organization:

  • The visual representation helped us pinpoint areas that required additional clarification, highlighting potential bottlenecks or weak links in the strategy.
  • It facilitated a deeper understanding of the meaning, possibilities, and impact of our strategic direction.
  • It serves as a visual reminder for the entire organization, reinforcing the agreed-upon direction and fostering a shared understanding.
  • The visual storyline simplified the complexity of our strategy, making it easier for stakeholders to understand and engage with.
  • The visual representation made it easier to tell the story of our organization, increasing comprehension levels and building stronger connections with stakeholders.

Our experience with engaging a visual/graphic recorder taught us valuable lessons for future strategy development processes:

  • Involve the visual/graphic recorder early in the process, ensuring they grasp the work context and the organizational environment.
  • Form a small team of 3-4 individuals to collaborate closely with the visual/graphic recorder. This diversity allows for the exchange of different perspectives on visual representation.
  • Include a representative from the management team in the collaboration to ensure alignment with organizational goals and strategies.

Your strategy is more than words on paper. We invite you to consider letting a visual/graphic recorder paint a clearer and more compelling picture of your organization's future. Take the bold step to experiment and discover unexpected insights, creative solutions, and valuable lessons throughout the entire journey by tapping into the world of visualization.