Highlights from the Visual Communication for Groups Pilot

I packed a lot into my 8-day trip to the Bay Area, but the primary reason for being there was to conduct a workshop at the Stanford D-School with Alli McKee. We met this summer at IFVP and immediately recognized that we should find ways to work together and join forces towards a common goal: getting people in business to think and communicate more visually. Between the two of us we have experience consulting at Deloitte, Bain, and Ideo for all kinds of clients and industries. In this time we have learned that even teams made up of the best and brightest talent still struggle to develop and communicate their ideas clearly and effectively.

There are many root causes and potential solutions that we are working to explore deeper, but this class was the first step in a journey to eliminate the painful powerpoint culture that many of us suffer through today. In the coming weeks we will be posting an article (or series) that will detail our thoughts, observations, and research on how this change will happen. In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share a few of the highlights from our class. 

 One of our students presenting a visual framework used by his team to prioritize their ideas

One of our students presenting a visual framework used by his team to prioritize their ideas

Highlight #1: Our brilliant students

The class was presented at the D-School's "Pitch Night", where students and instructors share their classes with interested students and open up applications. Despite the fact that neither Alli nor I were able to attend in person, we received spectacular interest and had to spend a great deal of time reading through the submissions to find the right mix of students. We intentionally sought out individuals across diverse programs of study with immediate need to learn visual communication skills. The final class was full of students across engineering, arts, business, medicine, CS, and other programs who were enthusiastic, dedicated, engaged, and honest with their feedback. Thanks to all of you for your great participation!. 

 Opening a suitcase that you see in movies used for ransom money or drug deals...only in this case it was full of iPad Pros! 

Opening a suitcase that you see in movies used for ransom money or drug deals...only in this case it was full of iPad Pros! 

Highlight #2: Partnering with Apple

I have been drawn to the iPad (and Paper app in particular) for the past couple of years, and believe it will play a huge role in transforming business communication. Because the devices still aren't widely adopted in business, and because I don't have the budget to acquire 20+ tablets to experiment with in workshops,  I have defaulted to demonstrating the capabilities through my skillshare classes, sketchnotes, and social media. After a fortuitous email from the iPad Pro team at Apple (just two weeks before our class!), I shared our plans and asking if they might be interested in lending us some iPads for the workshop. Much to my delight, we were able to borrow 20 iPad Pros and Apple Pencils to provide to students during the workshop-- watching them open the wrapping and set up the devices felt like Christmas morning. 

 Demonstrating how to write, draw, and create with Paper App

Demonstrating how to write, draw, and create with Paper App

Highlight #3: Introducing Paper

Any time I introduce Paper to a friend or colleague, I enjoy watching their eyes light up as they immediately envision ways it could enhance their lives. During the workshop, this was amplified by the number of students, and the fact that each of them had their own iPad Pro and Apple Pencil to play with. There were audible gasps as I demonstrated different features like the diagramming tool, cutting and duplicating, and rewinding. It was also lovely to see my co-instructor Alli (who has until recently worked exclusively on actual paper) to be re-introduced to the amazing capabilities that FiftyThree has built into the app. 

 Discussing observations of student behavior and necessary adjustments with Alli

Discussing observations of student behavior and necessary adjustments with Alli

Highlight #4: Being wrong

I will go into this in more detail on a future post... I'm still trying to organize my thoughts around what exactly happened. All I know right now is that things did not unfold exactly as I thought they would, which is not a bad thing at all. Rather, it was an incredibly valuable learning experience that I can't wait to share more about this in the coming weeks! 

Update (3/22/2016) 

We finally posted a more thoughtful article about our observations and what we learned from the class over on Medium. Hope you enjoy!