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Graphic recording at Design As Strategy conference 2017

Now that innovation is as much part of the furniture as whiteboards and stand-ups in just about every company I know of, what is to become of innovation, and the fruits that it’s meant to provide us? I went along to the Design As Strategy Forum with this in mind, to soak in as much contemporary thought and musings about the strategic design space as possible. And just like last year, I was also sketchnoting, except this time it was large-scale as a graphic recorder.


This year’s broad theme was Innovation as an Object of Design, hosted by The Customer Experience Company at their fantastic space overlooking the harbour and the Botanical Gardens. Among the speakers were Aurecon’s Global CEO Giam Swiegers, Australian Industry Group’s Chief Executive Innes Willox, Tharani Jegatheeswaran (leader of Deloitte Australia’s Social Impact Consulting practice), and Ben Hamley (Partner and Strategy Designer for Business Models Inc in Australia).

While each speaker was active at the front of the room, I was busy recording the essence of what they were saying (as well as a bit of the Q&A that followed) on floor-to-ceiling whiteboard wall panels up the back. It became a really effective post-talk piece for everyone to look at, to help them reflect and embed what they’d taken in a little deeper.


Thoughts on leading and encouraging innovation, by Giam Swiegers


Great reflections by Innes Willox on keeping a level perspective about innovation in large-scale companies, and the broader economy


Easily my favourite: Tharani’s talk on viewing society as an object of design, and the way that government, businesses and non-profits can work together


The theory and model of a business is also an object of design; well-told by Ben Hamley


Roberto Verganti’s talk was my second-favourite; we need to dig deep into our on emotions and motivations (and not be afraid of that) to make greater sense and meaning in design. Brilliant stuff. 

It had been a while since I’d done graphic recording at this scale, and I’d forgotten the toll it can take on my lower back! Still, I was really happy with the overall output, and very grateful to the organisers for having me there.

Other highlights:

highlight-community of practice-sml highlight-design direction-sml highlight-diversity of thought-sml

highlight-embrace uncertainty-sml highlight-innovation-sml highlight-meaning from inside-sml

highlight-serious playful-sml highlight-society object of design-sml

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Inky fun with the #Inktober challenge

Setting yourself challenges — and sticking to them — is a sure-fire way to get better at something. And let’s face it: unless you have a personal trainer or you’re a student in something, it’s pretty rare that someone is going to set a challenge for you. I don’t know a single project manager who puts a few extra days in their Gantt chart for you to exercise some professional development time.

You have to set them yourself. But then, that’s more gratifying anyway, isn’t it? And so, when Inktober floated past in my river of social media stuff, I grabbed it with both hands. Inktober is simple: do an ink drawing every day for the month of October. People have been at this since 2009, and it’s growing every year.

A huge thanks to Jake Parker for starting it! I had loads of fun with this. Here are all mine for 2016:

Oct 1 – Fast

I was a day late when I started, so I didn’t end up following the theme of ‘Fast’ for this one:


Oct 2 – Noisy


Oct 3 – Collect


Oct 4 – Hungry

This was a quickie I did on a whiteboard at work:


Oct 5 – Sad


Oct 6 – Hidden

I’d been itching to a bit of fantasy sketching…


Oct 7 – Lost


Oct 8 – Rock


Oct 9 – Broken

Cats started to become a bit of a meta-theme in my sketches…


Oct 10 – Jump


Oct 11 – Transport


Oct 12 – Worried


Oct 13 – Scared


Oct 14 – Tree

I’d also been itching to try different sketching styles during Inktober, and using colour in a different way. This one was particularly fun to do.


Oct 15 – Relax


Oct 16 – Wet


Oct 17 – Battle


Oct 18 – Escape


Oct 19 – Flight


Oct 20 – Squeeze

For ages I couldn’t think what to do for this theme, and then this idea came to me first thing in the morning. It looks better with my hand over it (below) ;)



Oct 21 – Big

This was just a chance to play with Copic tint markers…


Oct 22 – Little


Oct 23 – Slow

All the hype about Agile and Lean has always bothered me a little bit, especially the promise of SPEED that seems to tag along with it. Neither mindsets/ways of working are actually about speed, but that’s what people seem to latch on to. Some things really do take time.


Oct 24 – One dozen


Oct 25 – Tired


Oct 26 – Box

This was actually drawn on a placemat from a hotel restaurant I was at for work.


Oct 27 – Creepy


Oct 28 – Burn


Oct 29 – Surprise


Oct 30 – Wreck

I guess something from Star Wars had to make an appearance somewhere ;)


Oct 31 – Friend

The final Inktober sketch coincided with more news about the cruel mistreatment of asylum seekers in offshore detention, so this seemed pretty fitting.


See you for Inktober next year!


143 Visuals to Inspire You to Take Action
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I’ve been included in a sketchnotes e-book

The very generous Scott Torrance of Flux Insights has gone and included me in a new sketchnotes e-book. Isn’t that nice of him?

Scott has scoured the sketchnoteverse and curated a fine selection of sketchnotes and other visualisations and doodles, and published it as: 143 Visuals to Inspire You to Take Action. If you’re like me, and love sketchnotes (or anything involving visualising ideas and concepts), and take inspiration from others who do the same, you’ll get a kick out of this. And at time of writing, it’s still free.

As Scott said in an interview on SketchnoteArmy.com: “I hope it will inspire people if only in a small way. To inspire those who haven’t doodled since childhood to pick up a pen and paper and have some fun or give someone who is doodling in private the confidence to share their work in public“. As a massive fan of anyone stretching themselves creatively, I too hope this will be a catalyst for many people to explore this creative avenue. Thanks again Scott!

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Sketchnoting the brand experience

Portion of the sketchnote for TheConnectedBrand

Well wouldn’t you know it: it turns out sketchnoting isn’t just something to do at conferences, but works just as well at communicating a company’s proposition on its own website.

Stand around me long enough and you’ll know I’m a big fan of sketching in general, and sketchnoting in particular. I’ve taken to sketchnoting more at work these days, graphically facilitating on behalf of a speaker, or even just as a way of scribing a workshop discussion. It’s fun, and it generates something that people find useful to read afterwards, rather than stodgy old workshop notes.

I was approached recently by the lovely folks at The Connected Brand, to turn their proposition deck explaining the value of their brand consultancy, into a sketchnote. And it worked really well. Which should come as no surprise; they had already done a great job crafting a set of messages about how they help their clients and their brands, so it made my job all the more easy and fun to convert this into pictures (and a few words).

You can see the final result on their home page.


Sketchnote - 10 steps to thinking like a designerThis is a sketchnote I did while attending one of the bootcamp sessions we regularly have at Atlassian. It’s important that everyone at Atlassian not only understands the design process we go through, but is equipped to use it themselves in their own projects.

This is based on the d.school design thinking methodology, and is open enough that we can fit it to all sorts of contexts. And it’s not just for designers, it’s for everyone: developers, product managers, tech writers, everyone!