Drawing like a child

Growing up, noone remembers the first time they drew. We were given crayons, pencils, pens, paper and encouraged to draw. From simple marks on the paper, to representations of our home, our family, our world we saw. We were encouraged and supported to make more.

We learnt from it, we better understood our world through it, we got feedback from each stroke, each picture, each adult (or sometimes) children who saw it. It shaped our understanding and learning. Helped us see our place, that of others and to break things down into simple component parts.

We were liberated, free, without guilt or questioning our abilities. It didn’t matter what we drew, it helped, aided us in our understanding. It wasn’t art, it was what it was. Adults encouraged us, proud in the development they saw. We were given different tools, found new ways of marking the paper, paint, different pens and colors. We explored the mixing of colors, we reflected the world and chose colors that supported the understanding to us what it was, green for trees, blue for sky. We drew to tell stories, we brought life to the pictures, they served a bigger intention than just doodling. But then we stopped, we wrote, we clicked. Drawing became the tool of creatives: artists; designers; architects etc.

But, what happens when we draw like a child in our adult world?

What happens when we draw our system, map out the elements, their relationship to each other. What happens when we listen to a group and visualise the connections, provide feedback to groups through visual scribing? Or when we use visual metaphors and visualise frameworks to better our collective understanding?

Welcome to the world of Visual Thinking.

Methodologies and tools: facilitation-graphique-en |

Invitation : Discovery Art of Hosting France, January 31 – February 2, 2018


  • Lieu

    Sommières, France

    Adresse : CART, 31 rue Emilien Dumas, 30250 Sommières, France

  • Date

    January 31 to February 2, 2018

  • Heures

    Dès 17h30

  • Organisateur

    Percolab France

For more than twenty years, Art of Hosting has modelled a way forward in collective intelligence all over the world. Come discover for yourself, during a 3 day intensive training in the beautiful south of France #AoHFrance

In addition to the usual fixed rate to cover the hosting and teaching costs (€1250 *) we are therefore innovating by also inviting you to participate in a shared economy experiment. This is a cooperative approach whereby the financial responsibility for the seminar is shared by the community of both participants and hosting team. For this seminar, we invite your willingness to open up to different ways of seeing ourselves and the world. In practice, this means that you will decide on the sum of money that represents the richness of these 3 days, taking account of the costs of the event, its value to you and your own financial resources.   Payment will take place in two installments: a first instalment, the same for everyone, before the seminar, and the second at the end.  1st instalment: 450€, payable in advance on this website : he minimum contribution needed to organise and run the seminar (logistics, materials, communication, website)  2nd instalment: at the end of the seminar, you will choose the amount to honour and appreciate the work of the hosting team. We will be dedicating time and attention during the seminar to open this conversation – always an enriching experience – about the value of this seminar to you and the ways in which we as a community can cover the budget. You can find a more detailed explanation of this financial model and its ethos at http://leaderparticipatif.weebly.com

* Percolab est un organisme de formation exonéré de TVA. Cet enregistrement ne vaut pas agrément de l’Etat.

* Percolab is a TVA exempt training center

  • Nom de l’organisateur/trice

    Nadine Jouanen, SAS percolab Europe

  • Contact

    Courriel :  infofrance [at] percolab.com

    Téléphone : +33 6 17 79 83 10



Methodologies and tools: facilitation-graphique-en |
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Renewal of the competency framework for the HR chartered association of Quebec


The Human Resource (HR) profession needs to step into its future. The entire HR system in Quebec is build around the competency framework; university programs, admission into the chartered association, inspection, as well as professional development.  By improving and updating the competency framework the whole profession will be carried forward. The chartered association chose, for the first time, to do this via co-creation. They invited in HR professionals and people interested in the future of HR to go beyond thinking through what they wanted and also to contribute to its production.

Percolab’s role

Percolab designed the co-creation process in collaboration with an HR professional. The process integrated multiple voices in the field in a creative and constructive way, mixing wisdom and experience of HR professionals with inspirational examples, creative thinking, conceptual frameworks of the future, and collective sense making.   

A radically creative process that had three phases:

  1. Capture what is useful in what already exists and reveal the possibilities and dreams, for both the format and content of the framework.
  2. Iteratively develop the new structure of the guide via a series of workshops with the HR community.
  3. Validate specific sections of the guide with targeted stakeholders

To support the entire process, particularly with the context of participants coming in and out of the process, a visual strategy was put in place. Over 200 people contributed to the different steps of the process and were aided by an evolutive mural.

The workshops and the facilitation and the visual tools were all Percolab’s responsibility. The strategy, writing, and presentation of results were a shared responsibility with the client.  



  • The creation of a simple, practical competency guide
  • A guide that has the support and pride of the HR community and will be well used from inspectors, to university program design, and HR professional development & certification.  
  • An example of a competency framework for HR professionals in Canada and the world  
  • Integration of two new domains of HR competence – innovation process and technology



Evolutive mural by Paul Messer, Percolab


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Methodologies and tools: facilitation-graphique-en |
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Why visual thinking matters

Our work, our projects, and our lives are all intertwined in complexity. Accessing our own understanding and the boundaries of our projects can be quite hard. Explaining them can be even harder!

A map can help us understand our world and make that understanding accessible to others. Similarly, visuals help us define the territory, and the terrain of our projects.

I’ve noticed a trend in how much visuals are being used more to explain and communicate projects and their outcomes.

Why are visuals so important to creating understanding and contribution in project work and what are some of the ways we can use visuals to make impact?


Today many people I meet in workshops and throughout my work are not in the habit of using visuals. We jump quickly to our computers to take notes, maybe we’ll use hand gestures, but what if our instinct was to pick up a pen?

People appreciate visuals. Often the first thing people will gravitate to are the images, diagrams and photos shared in a report or document. The practice of using visuals is increasingly in demand, incorporating data and technology as well as the hand-crafted skills of a graphic recorder. We process images 60% faster than text, and images can break down assumptions, contextualizing our understanding. We learn quickly through visuals, in fact everyone is a visual learner!

We are now coming into a phase of technology where being able to draw digitally is almost as easy and reflective as the process of picking up a pen. VR is offering further ways of exploring how visuals can support our work.

Collective Understanding?

During our work at the European Commission we designed and built an online platform, (PICS) to support european countries and their administrations to share their resources with each other and work on collective projects . It was vital to the success of the project for users to have a good understanding of the system. We needed to have a simple way of expressing how it worked.

During PICS’ launch event, Project Leads from each administration and country came together for training and briefing. We wanted them to be comfortable with the system and feel confident in explaining it to others. At first, they walked through the application unguided, to gain a user’s perspective. Later, we asked them to visually map out their individual understanding of the system and share it with others. This exercise helped them not only get a better understanding of the project, but also helped create a global visual that everyone could use. The impact was clear: in the following sessions and activities during the event everyone had a sharper understanding of the system, and they were able to explain their comments or questions by referring to this visual model we had created collectively.

Sharing our mental models visually, further develops and deepens our understanding and accelerates project development

Mental Models

Interaction with our world depends upon our mental models. A simple example is how we approach and use a door. Without much thought we analyse the door mechanism and work out how the door opens based on visual clues and past experience. Does it open inwards, or outwards? Does it require a card or a key? Does it slide open or spin? Is there a handle, where are the hinges — on the left or right hand side? Do you need to pull or push?

The hinges offer a visual cue. The question of “am I allowed to open it?” feeds into the mental model I have about access via the door. All this information is rapidly and non-verbally processed by our brains, demonstrating how a well-designed door doesn’t make you think.

What if we were able to understand our projects in the same way? Having an understanding of our projects as clearly and as intuitively as a well-designed door?

We build mental models of our own understanding. Through outward clues and feedback from others, we develop that model. We can go quickly to misunderstanding each other when our mental models are not in sync. What if we were able to share our mental models through a simple visual? We can use simple lines and shapes to represent an understanding of our projects. Sharing our mental models visually, further develops and deepens our understanding and accelerates project development.

Knowing when to let go of a metaphor is a skill equal to finding one that matches your needs in the first place.

Visual Metaphors

Visual metaphors are great way to help structure our understanding of something less tangible. Using something we already have an understanding of, e.g. a tree, can help explain our project. The roots can represent the history of the project, the trunk its core elements, the branches its reach and the fruit the outputs and impacts.

One thing to note, though: each metaphor has its limits. You can find yourself struggling to find a suitable place to add important parts of your project on the tree. So use with caution! Knowing when to let go of a metaphor is a skill equal to finding one that matches your needs in the first place.

It starts with picking up that pen!

Developing your Practice

Whatever your project, pick up a pen and draw out your understanding.

Whether you use stick people, and simple shapes and lines, or are a seasoned visual practitioner, the importance is that you and others i.e. your team, clients, partners, stakeholders can achieve shared understanding.

If you want to discover tools, techniques and practice with like minded others. Join Paul Messer, Mary-Alice Arthor and Amy Lenzo for 4 week Visual Thinking Lab

Visual Thinking Lab

Do you aspire to have clarity in how you explain things, leading to others saying yes to shared vision and action?
4 x 2h Online Sessions


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Methodologies and tools: facilitation-graphique-en |
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À quoi sert une formation percolab?

Je suis consciente que notre approche de formation est non-conventionnelle, voir déstabilisante pour les participants.  


Formation auprès des élus et agents de développement économique du Québec.

Il y a trois motivations derrière notre modèle  :

  1. Connecter ses façons de travailler avec des cadres conceptuels pour créer du sens.
  2. Vivre des expériences qui permettent d’entrer dans des subtilités pour amplifier sa manière de travailler.
  3. Construire sur ce que l’on fait déjà si bien avec plus de conscience.
insertion sociale

Atelier offert au secteur des entreprises d’insertion sociale du Québec.

Pas évident d’avoir des indicateurs sur de telles intentions.


Des participants en plein travail lors d’un atelier sur les Méthodes d’intelligence collective.

Quand Philippe Garon, un participant d’une formation en région (Gaspésie, Québec), m’a fait un retour sur son expérience, ça m’a fait chaud au coeur. J’entends l’impact à travers son récit.


Philippe Garon en action professionnelle.

“Bonjour !

Je suis un artiste multidisciplinaire qui vit en Gaspésie. J’offre aussi mes services en rédaction, correction et animation. Grâce à la direction régionale du ministère de la Culture et des Communications, j’ai eu la chance de suivre une formation de Percolab avec Samantha Slade ici à Bonaventure en juillet 2015. En compagnie de 15 autres intervenant(e)s culturels de toute la région, j’ai pu me familiariser avec de nouvelles techniques de mobilisation créative. Quelle belle bouffée d’oxygène ! Nous avons pu nous familiariser avec plusieurs méthodes originales pour dynamiser les rencontres des multiples organisations qui œuvrent dans nos milieux. Samantha a réussi à adapter le contenu et son approche en fonction de nos réalités.

Personnellement, depuis cette formation, j’applique le plus possible dans mon travail mes apprentissages et je sens réellement une différence. Mes clients aiment expérimenter des activités qui sortent de l’ordinaire dans le cadre de leurs réunions. Leur efficacité et le plaisir qu’ils éprouvent à travailler ensemble s’en trouvent décuplés. Mais au-delà des méthodes que nous pouvons maintenant leur proposer, il y a l’importance de l’ambiance, de l’atmosphère que nous installons au sein des équipes que nous aidons. Mettre l’accent sur l’énergie positive, sur l’intelligence collective. Offrir aux gens un maximum d’espace pour leur permettre de s’exprimer et prendre le temps de vraiment les écouter. Encourager le questionnement, le rire, l’accueil des émotions, la réflexion, la créativité et la recherche d’idées audacieuses. Voilà un programme ambitieux, mais tellement motivant ! Percolab m’a donné le goût de pousser plus loin la maîtrise de l’art d’animer pour aider les gens de chez nous.”


Philippe Garon en plein travail lors de la formation percolab dans sa région.

Merci Philippe pour un retour si ouvert. Si vous avez un retour apprenant suite à un atelier ou expérience percolab, svp partagez!!


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Methodologies and tools: facilitation-graphique-en |
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Coplanning and codesign Champ-de-Mars

A neighbourhood in the heart of Montreal, ravaged by a highway construction in the 1970’s, is undergoing a profound transformation. The project, known as Project Champ-de-Mars Sector, includes the creation of a new public space over the highway, the redesign of existing public spaces, a rehaul of the transportation plan and a rethink of the neighbourhood’s life and identity, including cohabitation with the local homeless populations. The percolab team has been accompanying the city of Montreal in a ground-breaking co-design process for this initiative.

The collaborative approach extends both internally and externally: there are co-planning workshops with the multiple divisions of the city and the borough as well as events in public spaces, an online platform and targeted workshops with citizens. Actively engaging with the pertinent stakeholders throughout the project is a significant shift in practice and in possibilities. The project is weaving its way forward as the participatory process advances.

Percolab approaches each participatory activity from a pedagogical perspective – the aim is to ensure that individuals feel

  • welcomed into the process
  • informed and aware of the complexity
  • connected to the possibilities
  • supported in expressing their ideas
  • reassured as to an ongoing feedback loop

Percolab’s focus is to encourage and facilitate the expression of informed and constructive individual voices and the emergence of a collective voice via fine-tuned, creative and strategic processes and tools. Co-planning and co-design requires a delicate building of trust between diverse actors and fostering a culture of agility and openness, all the while working within a wide range of constraints (engineering, architectural, technical, legal, organizational).

The public page on the process is here:  http://realisonsmtl.ca/secteurchampdemars


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Methodologies and tools: facilitation-graphique-en |
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