Customer Reviews: Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity
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on September 13, 2010
I felt compelled to write a review of this book as I did not find the professional reviews spoke to the content of this book. I was excited to pre-order this book as the topic is pertinent to my current position, I was expecting to add some new tools to my belt to help me facilitate team meetings that are both productive and worthwhile. I was disappointed to find that the book read like the author's portfolio. The chapters and headers outlined the content but the text is full of stories describing how the author handled a meeting with a client. I do not think I read one paragraph in the book that did not use the first person. If you are looking for a book to review how 'someone else did it' - this book fits the bill. If you are looking for strategy, tips and 'how to' - it is not written in a way that is easy to incorporate the authors experiences into your arsenal.
One other annoyance is the size and shape of the book make it difficult to hold upright to read once opened, it is too wide; its too thick to wrap the pages behind the book once you are past the first few chapters. Setting it on your lap will not work either, cannot see the outer margins where the supporting graphic are placed. Very annoying.
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on August 3, 2010
After reading BACK OF THE NAPKIN (Dan Roam)and his sequel, I pre-ordered VISUAL MEETINGS, thinking it would be a good sequel to the sequel. The day the book arrived I had been a victim of another full-afternoon PowerPoint presentation barrage without much interaction. What fresh thinking I found inside, moving from rank basics of flip chart posters and lists to the post-graduate "graphic skills continuum" in Chapter 21. It's really a nice how-to reference that will live close at hand; I'll refer to it before every meeting that I lead, knowing that group interaction will be better and that my own skills and confidence will improve, starting with a blank sheet of paper rather than a PowerPoint with all the answers predetermined.

Don't miss the Group Graphics keyboard in Chapter 9, which is a great roadmap for practicing visual thinking skills and for selecting an approach to visual formats for different meeting purposes. It's fascinating to see the experience of a long and successful career condensed into one powerful chart.
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on September 6, 2010
This book is a good buy and can lead to the development of worthwhile meetings and the development of group dynamics which in turn can lead to change. The ideas of visual presentation of concept and data and using them to create insights of structure and the processes that can flow from that are gaining momentum (cf The Back of the Napkin (Expanded Edition): Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Picturesand The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics: The Dos and Don'ts of Presenting Data, Facts, and Figures. I cannot help but applaud the author for putting this book together and attempting to educate conference presenters and team leaders to create dynamic audio visual presentations without complex technology. As an inveterate drawer and graphic presenter, I could understand what was presented and could gain new insights and ideas for the future. The book certainly is worthy of the reviews already received.

But I do have a caveat which leads me to give less than a five star rating. It is this. To what extent will people who do not naturally think in this mode be able to adopt these methods? I appreciate the author's knowledge and experience and his belief that everybody can draw and can develop skills. Even if that is so, however, in order to develop the plethora of skills and techniques in this book and to use them dynamically, will take enormous work and dedication. This book is excellent, but it is not an easy fix for the management and development of small group and large group development and creative settings. My advice would be to look at it carefully if you think you need to develop such skills from scratch, unless you are willing really to work hard at skill development. If you believe you already have some degree of skill, however, this book can be a revelation.
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on August 6, 2010
If you have ever reached for a pencil to explain or hang onto an idea, then you will be delighted with this book. Visual Meetings will change how you think, work and meet - and even think about "visuals." Don't draw? Not to worry - this isn't about drawing per se but how to use "visuals" - text, simple drawn images, photographs, graphic metaphors -- as a natural part of engaging people, analyzing, innovating, and better yet, getting people to put their ideas together and take action. Visual Meetings is about how to surface the knowledge in the room (or in yourself!), and get it organized so that you can use it. And this means both via traditional paper with pens, as well as digitally/virtually - from table top size to huge templates and charts.

Sibbet outlines a comprehensive system of visual strategies and techniques. The clear instruction and tons of inspiring examples / case studies are backed by serious concepts and models about how people think, group dynamics and engaging people around tough questions, real work, deep learning. Storytelling is mixed with bullet-pointed lists and line art, making it easy to understand and apply.

The author doesn't stop at offering the wisdom of his own experience. Sibbet weaves in and acknowledges that of others he has learned from and worked with around the globe, so you will find a wide variety of tried & true strategies, models and techniques as well as Sibbet's own --- all in visual form, all reality tested across languages and cultures. It is truly a treasure trove of "process" gold nuggets, pulling together some of the best in meeting facilitation, project management, and system change...and then launching the reader into realms far beyond.

Visual Meetings is an offering not to be missed. This book will bump up your creativity and effectiveness as it has mine, enriching all that you do at work and in your community - and around your dinner table with the kids, as well!
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on October 6, 2010
Awesome book but wish it was a little more instructional or tutorial. Haven't gotten through it all, but I find myself looking for the part where the author explains which visualization tools or illustrations are most appropriate for specific concepts.
A chart or visualization of when to use which tools would be greatly appreciated especially early in th ebook.
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on April 26, 2012
This book is all about how the author handled different situations. If you are looking for his auto-biography than this is it. The content is redundant, chaotic,very poorly organized and limited in its usefullness. Take advantage of amazon's offer to review the text, that will clue you in somewhat. If amazon had a lower rating than 1 I would give it. This is the most misrepresented, disappointing book I have ever purchased.
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VINE VOICEon February 15, 2015
Innovation, employee engagement, and organizational productivity are top-of-mind topics today in most executive suites. I receive at least 1-2 books each month on these topics to read and review. I select very few, selecting only those which provide a fresh, new insight. "Visual Meetings" is one of those. Rather than expounding on the need for addressing the topics, Author David Sibbet, a world leader in graphic facilitation and visual thinking for groups, provides much needed tools to use when transforming an organization for success and survival. These are proven tools for increasing creativity, employee engagement, and productivity.

In the realm of creativity, I have seen visual tools used successfully in workshops at IDEO. In the realm of employee engagement and organizational productivity, I have seen their use by Ram Charan in planning sessions which have had a significant impact on engagement and organizational focus/productivity. Different tools were used by each facilitator.

"Organizations are no longer able to handle the complexity of what we are facing. In the face of confusion, people at work and people in meetings retreat into simplistic explanations and intolerant positions of non-listening. Visual language and visual listening can be a hopeful response to these kinds of problems. Visualization is a powerful way to resolve confusions and groups that arise from inadequate or conflicting mental models. This is crucial when those models involve our ideas of how work gets done, how teams cooperate, how to make decisions, how to organize, and how to learn."

Visualization works because certain areas of the mind cannot distinguish between what you see with your eyes and what you see with your mind. Patterns, trends and correlations that might go undetected in text-based data can be exposed and recognized easier with visual tools. They connect the heart and the mind, providing access to a deep internal perspective and use of the right brain that is lacking. The author has observed that people working visually have better ideas, make better decisions, and are more committed to producing results.

Drivers leading to the adoption of visual tools and visual meetings include:
1. Organizations must work leaner and quicker.
2. Organizational success and survival demands working across functions, geography, and cultural boundaries.
3. It is getting harder to get people to make sense of the avalanche of available information
4. Alignment and follow-through from meetings critically important to productivity and engagement.
5. Groups must be able to think big picture, over longer periods of time.
6. Rapid trend changes require everyone to upgrade their mental models of how things work on a frequent basis. Without this, impatience and resistance will be a major obstacle.

"Visual Meetings" gives the reader the toolbox and tricks to unlock creativity, collaboration, and breakthrough thinking. The book is organized around the following topics:
* What if Meetings Were Truly Fun and Productive?
* Why Visual Learning is So Compelling (and Easy)
* Mapping Ideas and Finding Key Patterns
* Graphics for Enacting Plans
* Seeing It All Come Together

Several sub-sections of note include: why visualization is worth 80 IQ points; how using pictures gets people to interact and collaborate; problem solving with visual tools; innovation and change using visual tools; and how to plant seeds of a real revolutions in meetings. Sibbet covers tools such as the use of sticky notes and dots (IDEO's classic visual tool), writing on the wall, the use of graphic templates (provided), visual documentation, the use of tablets in web meetings, and visualizing goals, roles, and action plans.

Visual meeting techniques will provide the much needed breakthrough for achieving extraordinary results in innovation, employee engagement, and organizational productivity. This book provides a comprehensive "how-to-do-it" tool kit with clear instructions and many examples of how others around the globe have used these techniques with great success.
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on October 15, 2011
I'm not entirely new to using graphics in organizations, and I'm not particularly good at drawing. But I like to use my limited visuals in meetings (or even conversations in my office) to organize information, ideas, metaphors, and relationships. So, Sibbet's book has prompted new ideas for using visuals in all sorts of settings -- one's I wouldn't have thought of. I didn't buy it looking for drawing technique. I didn't buy it looking for graphical display of information like Edward Tufte. I bought it more to help me thing how to organize and convey information so that people can better understand complex relationships, sequences, processes. I didn't mind the storytelling about Sibbett's client examples, as did another reviewer. I liked seeing the application. And the bonus was getting insight into Sibbet's thinking when he's working with groups, not just how to use visuals. It's lit a fire under me for new ways to consider graphics in conversations -- small and large.
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on August 11, 2010
As a visual practitioner, I've come to rely on The Grove Consultants International for serious facilitation tools. With "Visual Meetings," David Sibbet hits the mark again, putting all the basics in a compact container. I can reach in and grab what I need for nearly any engagement, refresh my learning and find something I didn't know in every chapter. Beyond the mechanics of visual thinking and its relationship to productivity, David covers the gamut of imminently practical methods, approaches and techniques that are hallmarks of The Grove. He is meticulous about covering the "why" with the "what," the "how" along side the "when." It's the Chicago Style Manual for visual practitioners and the Holy Grail for anybody who wants to see results from their organization's meetings.

Make no mistake, this is not a compendium. It's all meat and no bone, yet at a svelte 250 pages Mr. Sibbet manages to capture essence and theory without neglecting nuance and detail. He's a master at the craft of communicating how to achieve group creativity and productivity.
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on July 20, 2016
This is an enjoyable read. I'm a corporate trainer so will implement as much as I can from the book. No fooling, this is going to take practice and raise my game. The video is one for FranklinCovey Facilitators - on the facilitator website.
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