A key part of inspiring change is development of visual communication skills through drawing and diagramming. Diagrams and visual communication are increasingly important in a fast moving world. Drawing and diagramming are important skills for creativity and innovation at all levels. They are not only for children or people who cannot read and write. ‘Sketch-noting’ and mindmapping are now common tools in higher level education and creative brain-storming in boardrooms of global companies.
Drawing is not just ‘pretty pictures for illiterates’, but a way of clarifying and communicating very complex concepts in boardroom brainstorming of global companies and mindmapping and sketch-noting in higher education. Drawing is:
- a liberating activity: freeing thought from long wordy definitions and clarifying underlying assumptions and differences in understanding of complex concepts like empowerment and leadership
- a fun collective activity – bringing people together to explore ideas and clarify concepts, identify differences and reach some sort of consensus. The outputs can be extremely attractive murals and meaningful decoration in meeting places and workshops as a form of collective memory or training aid.
- a good way of promoting understanding between people with different levels of education – people who cannot read and write are often better at drawing concepts than those with higher levels of education. Also in multilingual contexts.
- a very powerful communication of ideas and images for gender change – it is very difficult for donors and policy makers to dismiss graphic pictures of dreams and also constraints like violence drawn by women and men in poor communities as ‘feminist imperialism’.
PALS uses drawing and diagramming at all levels. The aim is not pretty pictures but sophisticated analysis of complex issues and identification of realisable change strategies. Participants create their own pictorial manuals and notes – not only reducing costs, but also making it more likely they will remember and implement what they have learned. Using drawings means that people who cannot read and write, as well as embattled CEOs of global companies and government officials, are able to put their experience and ideas on paper and communicate clearly to each other.
PALS develops ideas from information graphics, concept mapping and graphic design to facilitate clarity of concepts and analysis, innovation and equal communication between stakeholders from those without formal education to the most powerful.
PALS adapts four basic diagram types:
These tools are adapted and sequenced in specific ways, depending on the nature of the issue and process.