Top Tips for Creative Visioning

Top Tips for Creative Visioning

  • Bear in mind that creative visioning is not a to-do, it’s a to-dream. It’s about as far from a tick box exercise as you can imagine. Give yourself the space to dream. Time can be a barrier so start by setting 5 minutes aside (I find it helpful to use a stopwatch). Once the 5 minutes are up you will often feel like doing more, so keep going 🙂


  • Take the pressure off. Creative visioning is not about setting a 5-year vision or making hard and fast decisions about your future. Nothing is set in stone. View it as simply exploring an infinite range of possibilities. You don’t have to ‘get it right.’ 


  • Start with a blank unlined page and grab some markers or pencils. If your natural tendency is to write rather than draw then go for it. You can always add drawings later if you wish.


  • Use prompts to shape your thinking. If you are creating a vision for your life use prompts to help you think about what your future life may look like. Who, What, Where, When are examples of useful prompts.


  • Remove all barriers – real and imagined. Often when creating visions (and subsequently goals and plans) we have a tendency to think about what isn’t possible, what can’t be done because of XYZ. Imagine that all such barriers are removed and really go for it, let your imagination take you beyond barriers to a life yet lived.


  • Revisit your vision. Pin your scribbles to the wall and add new ones when a new idea or insight occurs to you. Likewise, cross out anything that no longer feels appealing. Your vision is always growing and changing. Welcome this evolution. 

Draw Out Your Future participants with Emer O’Leary January 2021


Three ways to use Zoom whiteboard for facilitation

Three ways to use Zoom whiteboard for facilitation

And then…my whole wide world went Zoom.

Love it or loathe it Zoom has become a large part of our lives. From virtual pub quizzes to virtual learning Zoom is here to stay.

As a facilitator, have you thought about how Zoom can support your facilitation processes? What has really piqued my interest is the use of Zoom Whiteboards to support the collaboration and co-creation of ideas.


Here are three ways you can use Zoom whiteboards for facilitation:

  • Establishing a Group Contract/Working Agreement

As a facilitator you may, at the beginning of a session, invite a group to share the norms and behaviours they feel need to be in place in order for everyone to get the most of the session. Using a Zoom whiteboard for this exercise makes it particularly collaborative. Instead of the facilitator noting what each person says, individuals themselves use the ‘Annotate’ tool on Zoom to draw or type in their responses, thus co-creating the group contract.


  • Dot Voting

Dot voting is a great way to garner opinion on a topic or decision. In a real-life setting ideas are shared using post-it notes on a flipchart or wall, then each person is given a certain number of dot stickers which they then go and place next to their preferred idea(s).
With a Zoom whiteboard a facilitator can note down ideas in text on the Whiteboard and participants can vote on their ideas using the Stamp function within the Annotate menu. Stamp gives us the ability to add a green tick (or heart for example) beside our preferred idea. An added bonus is that the voting process is anonymous (unless you use the arrow for stamping; as a facilitator exclude that from the options), thus reducing (in part) group think bias.


  • Checking in for understanding

This can be used in many ways, one way for example is to check to ensure everyone has a shared understanding of a problem. Using the Breakout function break people into groups and invite them to draw out the problem. The whiteboard function in Zoom allows people to draw on the whiteboard at the same time. Smaller groups can work together scribbling on the board, drawing out their shared understanding.


I hope this has given you some food for thought for your next facilitation session. Do make sure that you regularly familiarise yourselves with the latest Zoom security updates.


Did you like this?  If you would like to be the first to hear about courses we are running, as well as receive regular visual thinking tips, then sign up to our newsletter.

The story behind my discovery of graphics

The story behind my discovery of graphics

When I talk about my journey to visual thinking I speak about when I moved to Edinburgh in 2002 and started working for a disability organisation.

It was whilst working at this organisation that I received training in Person Centred Planning – a facilitation methodology that has hand drawn graphics at its heart. I still use many of the principles of Person Centred Planning in my training today.

What I don’t often speak about is the reason I started working for disability organisations in the first place.

Having completed a Masters Degree in Ethics I felt uncomfortable living in an academic bubble where I could muse at length about the practical applications of concepts such as paternalism, autonomy, and consent.

My thesis – The Dignity of the Undignified – was inspired by my disabled sister Fiona.

I was (and still am) fascinated by groups of people who are deemed to be on the fringes of capacity (and in turn, society) for one reason or another. Having spent 4 years studying philosophy it was time to step away from the books and get some practical experience actually working with disabled people. (The plan was then to go on to do a PhD – a story for another day..)

The trajectory goes a little like this:

The Story Behind My Discovery Of Graphics

Here’s to my sister Fiona and to all inspiring sisters!


Did you like this? Sign up to our newsletter for regular visual thinking tips plus exclusive events and offers.

2021 dates for Secrets of Simple Graphics online and the new programme Draw Out Your Future have now been confirmed.  Take a look >> 

Three Horizons: A Strategic Visioning Tool

Three Horizons: A Strategic Visioning Tool

I went along to the Facilitators’ Network here in Edinburgh and learned about a strategic visioning tool called Three Horizons.

It’s a tool that allows us to imagine what an ideal future (H3) may look like.

The following diagram gives us an opportunity to reflect on three co-existing horizons and the interplay between them.

H1 represents the status quo. When we ask ourselves what H1 looks like we consider what’s happening right now and within that we consider what keeps things going and needs to stay. Conversely we also discuss what we need to let go of and what no longer serves us.

H2 represents innovation. It’s an entrepreneurial space. It’s about trying things out and prototyping.
H2- may look new and different but it’s really just a version of H1.
H2+ takes us into H3 (future) space and asks the question ‘What can we try?’

In H3 we explore further what this imagined future looks like.

By exploring the dynamic of the H1, H2 and H3 horizons we begin see possibilities and opportunities for change and we imagine what that change looks like within a safe space.

On the day we did a practice run of the tool under the topic ‘Future City’. We were tasked to break off into groups and go around the city taking photos of things we imagined may be H1, H2 and H3 Future Edinburgh. It was great fun and an interesting way to collaborate, discuss and imagine our ideal Future City.

Here’s a photo our group took that represents H3 – we were going for ‘playfulness’ ( whilst reflecting the future pedestrianised George Street of our imagination…)

Image courtesy of Sabina Strachan

I love learning about strategic visioning tools as it’s an area I work a lot in. I also love blending and weaving different tools to find the right fit for my client. If you would like to have a chat with me about planning for you or your team’s future, get in touch via email or give me a call on 0131 554 6551.

Thanks and all the best,

Have you used this facilitation tool?

Have you used this facilitation tool?

I’m pleased to be trained in a number of facilitation methodologies. Amongst them is Group Faciltation Methods, via the Technology of Participation from the Institute of Cultural Affairs.

We spent the entire first day of the training looking at focussed conversations, and in particular the ORID framework.

ORID is a frameowrk that helps a group to develop a deeper understanding of their experiences. Often actions emerge as a result of this shared reflection.

I find it to be a particularly elegant and grounding way of rounding off a facilitation session or meeting.

ORID stands for Objective, Reflective, Interpretive and Decisional.

As the facilitator it’s important to tailor your questions relevant to the topic in hand. Here are some ideas for using ORID to conclude a meeting.

Objective questions capture and identify facts.
– What have you noticed today?
– What ideas caught your attention?

Reflective questions get to the core of our feelings.
– How do you feel about the information we just shared?
– How would you describe the collective mood of today’s session?
– What is your gut telling you about the session?

Interpretive questions address the ‘So what’, the meaning of what just took place.
– What was your key insight?
– What did you learn?
– What does that mean for you, your team, the company (for example)?

Decisional questions ask, ‘Now what?’
– How has this experience changed your thinking?
– What will you do as a result?
– What are your next steps?

I’d love to know if you have used this tool before and if so, what your experience was. Feel free to drop me a note anytime.

Here’s to a focussed week ahead,

Sketchnote: 5 Ways to Be More Creative at Work

Sketchnote: 5 Ways to Be More Creative at Work

Do ever feel that you’re going through the motions at work? That at times it feels like you spend most of your day fire fighting with little to show at the end of it?

One way to gently dislodge yourself from this mode of working to consider the ways you can inject creativity into the workplace. Small changes can make a big difference.

Here are some of my favourites:

5 ways to be more creative at work


1. Take ownership of your creativity.
I often go into workplaces where people make comments like, ‘I’d love to be more creative but it’s just really corporate and stuffy here. The culture in this place isn’t set up for it.’
Your experience of creativity starts with you! Be brave, get involved and challenge the status quo. The power is in your hands.

2. Seek joy in the ordinary.
You don’t need to go on a 5 day design thinking workshop to be creative. In my experience joy and creativity are closely aligned. What small things in your working day bring a sense of joy?

3. Adopt a flexible approach.
Rigidity is the enemy of creativity. Always needing to do things in a certain way is a sign that you may be suffocating your creative spark.

4. Feed your creativity every day.
Creativity isn’t art or drawing or fancy wallpaper. It may be, but it also may be cooking and sock wearing and fresh air and a new game of cards. What does creativity mean to you? Seek it out on a daily basis.

5. Celebrate individuality.
Celebrating difference and how that feeds collective thinking honours the creativity in us all.

I hope you enjoyed today’s newsletter. I’m always exploring new ideas so if there’s anything you’d like to see featured do let me know.

All the best for the rest of the week,

P.S. I am now on Instagram. (I know. So modern.) Do pop over and say hello: