Drawing to help people ‘see’!

G U E S T  A R T I C L E

Karyn’s Coaching Tips and Tricks!
In my coaching, I frequently using drawing to help learners see and understand more clearly! Why? First, because most people aren’t used to drawing and it makes them feel uncomfortable…and that helps with learning! Second, because drawing helps slow down our thinking so we can ‘look more carefully’, which is one of the most basic Toyota Way tenets. And finally, similar to talking or writing, having our drawing in front of us allows us, as coaches and learners, to ‘see thinking’. Here are a few exercises I use in my coaching! Try them out yourself and then use them with your learners:

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Draw it out to get started

When you first start working with a team or a group, ask them to do a quick drawing to introduce themselves! Instead of going around the room and having people say their name, role, etc., give them five minutes to draw a symbol that represents who they are! They can then introduce themselves by explaining why they chose that symbol!

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If you can’t ‘draw’ it simply, you don’t really understand it…

If someone you are coaching is ‘stuck’, ask them to draw a picture of what is happening! Stick figures are fine! The simpler the better. Because if they can’t draw what’s happening, very simply, they probably don’t really understand it! Standing in gemba, and looking carefully enough so that you can draw a simple sketch of what’s really going on is a great way to help people ‘practice seeing’!

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Drawing is a kind of PDCA (Draw…erase…and draw again…)

Drawing can help learners think things through. Just like any other ‘action’ it turns thinking into ‘doing’. So, before learners try out an idea in a big way, ask them to ‘draw out’ what they think it will look like! Drawing doesn’t quite match what’s in their imagination? No problem, erase and draw again…and again…Remember, PDCA is the artistic process too!

Helping our learners rediscover and reclaim their creativity is the first part of creating and delivering service excellence. Starting that process is as easy as picking up a pencil and paper and drawing! Let me know how these exercises go for you! I’d love to hear!


About the author:

Karyn Ross

Karyn Ross, coauthor of the Shingo Award-winning,  The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations. 

An internationally experienced consultant, coach and lean practitioner. Karyn has taught organizations of all sizes, in sectors as diverse as insurance, HR, transportation and retail how to use creativity combined with Toyota Way principles, practices and tools. This powerful combination enables organizations to deliver the peak services that each of their customers wants, now and for the future, and differentiates them from their competitors.

While many other Lean consultants focus on implementing tools, Karyn can teach your team how to use Practical Creativity to continuously strive towards service excellence. By developing each person’s capability through Coached Practice, Karyn focus on the means: the ‘how’, and not just the ‘ends’ or the results, because “how we get there is as important as where we are going”.

A practicing artist, with an MFA in Sculpture, Karyn specializes in developing your team’s creativity and divergent thinking skills so that your organization can flourish, thrive and grow and fulfill it’s purpose. See Karyn’s full profile on LinkedIn.

Book from the author

A Shingo prize-winning must-read for executives, managers, consultants and front-line workers,
(published on September 20, 2016)

Copyright information: The article has been published with permission from the author. Title picture is copyright of ASQ Ottawa Valley Section and not associated with the original writing.


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