Research ideas to identify values in datasets – Graphic recording

I recently had the opportunity to bring together three diverse groups of people for a workshop, and the experience was truly inspiring. Mario Scharfbillig, a colleague at the Joint Research Centre EU Science, Research and Innovation of the EC, reached out to me for assistance with a workshop on the #ValuesML project he was organising. The workshop brought together experts on values from universities and research centres around the world (the first group) to brainstorm research project ideas that would contribute to a future algorithm identifying values in datasets. The ultimate goal of the ValuesML project is to provide policymakers in the EC (the second group) with a deeper understanding of citizens’ values, identities, and aspirations in order to better shape policies. To facilitate the workshop, I enlisted the help of my facilitator friends in Art of Hosting (the third group), Myrto Tsoukia and Maria Samuel Madureira Pinto. They did an outstanding job offering a ProAction Café and adapting their script live during the workshop. My role was to take visual notes, capturing the outcomes of the participants’ conversations through graphic harvesting. What I noticed beyond the tangible outcomes of the workshop was the impact it had on all of us. Mario gained a better understanding of participatory methods for facilitating meaningful conversations, while my fellow facilitators working within European institutions recognised the importance of considering citizens’ values and identities in policy design. Additionally, the researchers in the room had the opportunity to experiment with a participatory method for discussing their ideas. Their curiosity and eagerness to see my graphic recording filled me with joy. For many, it was the first time they had seen visual notes taken live, and I hope that these will serve as a reminder of the richness of their conversations and the power of summarising complexity in a simple and elegant way. It was a truly rewarding experience, and I look forward to future opportunities to facilitate and bring diverse groups of people together for meaningful conversations.

Research ideas to identify values in datasets - Graphic recording
Research ideas to identify values in datasets - Graphic recording
Research ideas to identify values in datasets - Graphic recording
Research ideas to identify values in datasets - Graphic recording
Research ideas to identify values in datasets - Graphic recording
Research ideas to identify values in datasets - Graphic recording
Research ideas to identify values in datasets - Graphic recording
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Multitasking doesn’t work, here’s what does – sketchnotes

Reflecting on my past, I once believed multitasking was the key to productivity and efficiency. It took a burnout to realise the harmful effects of multitasking on my mental health. Asana’s enlightening article delves into the neuroscience behind multitasking myths, revealing how it drains our mental resources and hinders efficiency. Embracing single-tasking has been a game changer for me. By focusing on one task at a time I’ve unlocked higher productivity and improved concentration.

Dive into the Asana article for six actionable tips on mastering the “art of single-tasking”, empowering you to stay focused and achieving your daily goals. Plus, check out my attached sketchnotes capturing the essence of the article.

Multitasking doesn’t work, here’s what does - sketchnotes

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Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

As member of the JRC and as visual thinker, I was invited to capture visually the main insights of the JRC senior management seminar. During two days, I listened to a few hundred managers taking stock after one year of the launch of an innovative way of working in transversal modes in our organisation, the so-called JRC portfolios. The program was a fair balance between keynotes, informative presentations, exchanges, and conversations in world café mode. My challenge was to create the graphic recording of all this in order to provide a visual but also emotional memory that would be useful to the participants and those who were not present.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

On the substance

Overall, the results after one year are positive. There is a deeper understanding among the managers of the benefits of collaborating and working together on cross-cutting themes to “do even better science to support EU policies”. There are of course issues to resolve, while navigating a complex organisation and world, but by working together, everyone agreed that we would be able to overcome it all.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

How I worked

Aware that I would not have been able to capture the essence of extremely technical, dense and tense conversations over two days, I put together a small team of volunteers to help me. They were instructed to write down points and insights that were important to them on post-its (when they wanted and if they could) and bring them to me. This is how dozens of post-its arrived at me at the end of each intervention. Thanks to them I was able to refine my live visual notes by confirming or correcting my own notes, or by covering what I had missed.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

Personal take-aways

The intensity of the program spread over three days, and the exhausting trips to and from the hotel which was very far away, should not have impacted my concentration and my ability to listen. So I relied on a few small moments of meditation during the days, whether it’s a walk outside the conference center or stacking stones in balance inside. This is really what allowed me to keep my concentration and manage my mental fatigue.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

I was moved when some of the colleagues who helped me with the harvesting said at the end that they had listened to the speeches with much deeper attention than usual. They experienced the basics of harvesting, this technique in the art of hosting which first consists of listening at different levels. Without them I would not have been able to create such rich and deep visual notes. Harvesting important events can only be done correctly with and as a team.

I want to express them my gratitude and to the other colleagues with whom I had the privilege of working closely, for their support, their help, their kindness, for the coffees brought, their smiles, for their comforting looks, for who they are. Beautiful people.

Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar Graphic recording of the JRC senior management seminar

This blog post is available on Linkedin as well

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StartSketch, the very first Sketchnoting course in the European Commission

The importance of harnessing the power and benefits of visual thinking has never been more evident. It’s a valuable skill for enhancing our listening abilities, concentration, memory retention, and visually reimagining information processing by summarising and filtering it. As a colleague told me recently, “you do knowledge synthesis in its most practical form!“. Moreover, visual thinking is a critical tool for gaining clarity in the face of complexity, helping us tackle intricate subjects.

It had been over a decade since Catherine Focant and I rekindled our discussion on introducing visual thinking and sketchnoting within the European institutions. In October 2023, we achieved a significant milestone by delivering the first-ever internally offered course on sketchnoting and visual thinking at the European Commission. The initial 20 spots filled up rapidly, and we were pleasantly surprised to find the waiting list for future sessions grow daily, eventually reaching over 350 eager colleagues.

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For the enthusiastic participants, it was a transformative journey. Many of them began with the misconception that “I cannot draw“, but they left the course with newfound confidence, now able to create simple visuals combined with lettering. They also discovered that drawing skills are closely linked to active and deep listening.

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The overwhelmingly positive feedback and their commitment to practicing visual thinking were the most cherished gifts for us. Starting tomorrow, we invite them to join a newly established community of practice on Sketchnoting within the European institutions, and we encourage them to explore the global community of practitioners worldwide. If our motto is “Draw and share,” I genuinely believe that I received far more from them than what I imparted during the course.

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This blog post is available on Linkedin as well.

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Why is it so difficult to deliver feedback?

I read an article about the importance of giving feedback and the difficulty of giving feedback. I couldn’t stop myself from drawing the 4 rules of thumb:

  1. Feedback says more about the giver than the receiver
  2. Feedback is a gift
  3. Feedback is only useful (and used) when it is asked for
  4. Once feedback is asked for, it is often no longer needed
Why is it so difficult to deliver feedback? A sketchnote

The original article is worth reading

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How can meditation help decision makers?

I had the immense privilege of listening to two prestigious experts in their field, with a common research object and practice, meditation. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche who is a Tibetan Buddhist master and meditation teacher, and Dr Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry who is well known for his research on the brain and meditation, and is a friend of the Dalai Lama.

They talked us about meditation, how it can help decision makers. The conference was a pleasant dance between teachings about meditation, small meditation exercises, and scientific facts that confirm the importance of the meditation practice for more awareness for better decision-making. My visual notes:

Sketchnotes of “how meditation can help decision makers”
Conference “how meditation can help decision makers”
Conference “how meditation can help decision makers”

Big thank you to my colleagues Carles Blas Chloé Dengis who invited these two persons and organised the conference so well.

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