In a large organisation, creating shared understanding can be tough. How can the people on the shop floor share the management’s vision? How do you align every department behind a single aim?

For Kate Kapp, a service designer manager for Tesco digital product, visual thinking and communication has become a vital part of her team’s success. And Scriberia’s Hardworking Picture Workshop offered her colleagues, from across the organisation, a unique opportunity to get to grips with the basics.

‘We’re always trying to get people together outside of their organisational silos, to solve problems together,’ she says. ‘Making everything visual is one of the best ways of doing this. It’s the fastest way to create shared understanding and engage people with different viewpoints in a really meaningful and productive conversation.’

When Scriberia Academy launched the Hardworking Picture Workshops at the end of 2015, Kate was among the first to respond.

Kate says, when Scriberia scribed a live event for Tesco – successfully capturing ideas from their digital product, store and call centre teams – it triggered ‘a wave of excitement’ about the benefits and possibilities of visualisation.

‘It was such a popular activity and so effective in helping us to communicate the concepts developed in that session, that it made sense for us to book an Academy day and ride that wave,’ she says.

But even Kate hadn’t quite anticipated the extent of her colleagues’ enthusiasm. 50 of her colleagues requested a ticket – far more than we had room for! So, we split them into three groups and held three separate Hardworking Picture Workshops especially for them.

The aim of the workshop is to equip attendees with the skills to build their own visual vocabulary, organise complex information and draw something fantastically useful. Crucially, we don’t teach people how to draw, but rather, show them that artistic skill is not a pre-requisite of effective visual thinking and communication. In each group there was a broad range of skills, brought by directors, service designers, UX designers, product managers, communications managers and others from across the organisation.

Kate says: ‘Some were very comfortable expressing themselves visually, others totally unfamiliar with it. But, from the start, the workshop levelled the playing field between confident sketchers and people with no artistic experience at all. The focus being on the thought behind the drawing, as opposed from the drawing itself.

Even the least confident artists could see that if they could draw a circle or a triangle or a square they could start to convey quite complex ideas.
— Kate Kapp, Senior Service Design Manager, Tesco PLC

Dan Porter, Scriberia Creative Director, explains the workshop’s approach: ‘A lot of people panic when you ask them to draw something. But a Hardworking Picture doesn’t need to be beautiful. It just has to be good at its job. That’s the focus of this workshop.

‘At Scriberia, we know that most of the thinking, the planning and the structure of an idea happens at the sketching stage. It may be a bit scruffy, but that image is incredibly valuable. Once you’ve made it real, you can develop it, share it and refine it.

‘The whole day was really fun and inspiring, really enjoyable,’ says one attendee. ‘I found it very challenging but enjoyed learning the process of how to model a hard working picture.’

‘The exercises were fun, effective and engaging,’ says another. ‘I enjoyed the day a lot and it inspired me to want to learn and practice more.’

For Kate, it was a validation of her belief in the power of pictures and of her continuing mission to think, work and do more with visuals.

‘There’s so much merit in creating ideas in a way that they can be easily shared, and that message was loud and clear to everyone by the end of the day,’ she says.

‘In a big organisation like Tesco, we need to communicate effectively to a workforce of thousands. People have different words for things, different priorities, different responsibilities entirely. So being able to sketch out the things that matter, gives us a common language.’

And once the workshops were over, and the Tesco team returned to their offices and wasted no time putting what they’d learned into practice.

‘We’re already seeing a difference. It’s helping us achieve a culture shift towards sharing our ideas early and often,’ says Kate. ‘Sticking a quick sketch on the wall is a really powerful conversation starter. It makes sharing ideas so much easier, within your own team and with colleagues from other departments.

I like to think of our sketches as “vertical campfires”– everyone can gather round and have a really good discussion.
— Kate Kapp, Senior Service Design Manager, Tesco PLC

‘I would 100% recommend the Hardworking Picture Workshops to anyone. But for big organisations like ours, it’s so valuable. If you need to work together, join up and create a common understanding, it’s absolutely the way forward.’