Investing in Vision & Strategy with Steve Houston

Q&A with Steve Houston

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Client Interview

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March 8, 2020

Steve Houston is the Chief Strategy Officer for one of the largest healthcare organizations in the Midwest. In the 2000s Mr. Houston led a long-term change management and business transformation initiative for his organization with support by Christopher Fuller of Griot’s Eye. For more than a decade Griot’s Eye provided graphic facilitation, graphic recording, infographic design and presentation services for the healthcare company.

Mr. Houston, first a little context — your organization has its own in-house design and navigation center that manages long-term strategy decisions and culture change initiatives. Can you tell us a little bit about why you hired Griot’s Eye to assist their design workshops with graphic facilitation services?

The use of graphic facilitation in our innovation, design and strategy sessions was a way for us to quickly and effectively synthesize and document the work of a large group of stakeholders working for a relatively short, intense period of time, typically two to three days, in a manner that created a more memorable and impactful record of the event. We realized that each stakeholder had their own unique means for remembering the work that we were doing. Some focused more on auditory memory while others were more visual. The use of graphic facilitation to document the conversations was combined with the more traditional note-taking approach to enable us to deliver a record of the event that made the most sense to all stakeholders that participated.

When we looked for talent in this space, Griot’s Eye, and specifically Christopher, came highly recommended by several industry experts that we had encountered as we set out to create our in-house center. When we launched our center Griot’s Eye was there and not only provided the requested graphic facilitation services, but, also shared significant expertise and insight on the creation and operation of a center like the one we were establishing. Griot’s Eye was truly a partner in launching this internal capability and the success that it ultimately brought to the organization.

This relationship with Griot’s Eye was over the course of the project (more than 10 years). Can you explain why you continually utilized Griot’s Eye as a long-term supplier in providing visual facilitation and graphic recording for assistance?

Simple, they were the best. Over the years we worked with many different individuals and organizations in this space. We always attempted to book Griot’s Eye first, but, unfortunately they were in high demand and not always available to support our sessions. In those situations we would turn to others and even attempted to create our own internal capability. These alternatives always seemed to come up short as compared to the product we received from Griot’s Eye. We found a lot of good artists along the way but few that could actually think on their feet, synthesize complex conversations in real-time and capture the concept visually in a way that made sense to everyone. Griot’s Eye consistently delivered this higher level of product and service.

"In all of the years that I had been doing service line strategy work prior, I had never seen a product produced to memorialize the work that garnered so much interest, awareness or excitement. I knew then that we were on to something."

Can you take us to the moment when you realized our service was succeeding in helping you achieve your goals?

The first body of work that we did in our center that Griot’s Eye supported included the creation of service line plans for our six key clinical service lines. These three day sessions involved approximately 60-70 stakeholders in each session and we completed a session or service line each week for six straight weeks. By the time we got to the fifth and sixth session we had people coming into these sessions with copies of the five year horizon maps that were created in the first few sessions, excited to have the opportunity to participate in the creation of something similar for their service line. In all of the years that I had been doing service line strategy work prior, I had never seen a product produced to memorialize the work that garnered so much interest, awareness or excitement. I knew then that we were on to something. The progress that each of these service lines made over the coming years proved that notion out as most were successful in achieving their key milestones outlined on their horizon map over the first few years.

A listing of some of the topics I provided graphic facilitation services for -- 3 more, and I feel I should have gotten some sort of health care accreditation

Can you tell us what the general consensus was from your organization regarding the graphic facilitation services of Griot’s Eye?

As I just shared, the work Griot’s Eye did made a definite impact on the stakeholders that participated in sessions they supported. There were the preferred graphic facilitation service that everyone asked for when we planned sessions throughout the years. They set the standard by which others were compared when they weren’t able to support our sessions.

"If you are investing significant time and talent in a visioning or strategy session, why wouldn’t you want to ensure it is documented in the most effective and impactful way possible?...Griot’s Eye is the best graphic facilitation and graphic recording service that I have encountered to successfully accomplish that aim."

Finally, would you recommend others hire a graphic facilitator and graphic recording services from Griot’s Eye for their next meeting and/or visioning and strategy session?

Absolutely. If you are investing significant time and talent in a visioning or strategy session, why wouldn’t you want to ensure it is documented in the most effective and impactful way possible? Providing stakeholders that participated in the session a record of their work in a manner that brings that work to life is a great first step toward the successful implementation of that effort. Griot’s Eye is the best graphic facilitation and graphic recording service that I have encountered to successfully accomplish that aim.

If you're a facilitator, event coordinator or work with an organization in the midst of a change management program that needs a way of visually communicating to your support team in a way that is visually memorable and helps tell the story of your transformation journey, then please contact us!

And if you are interested in learning the basic listening and graphic skills required for scribing — skills that do not require innate drawing talent (just an appreciation for rapid visualization), then please check out the next Learn2Scribe workshop taught by Christopher Fuller of Griot's Eye and his talented and longtime colleague, and friend, Peter Durand of AlphaChimp Studios. The date of the workshop is Feb 3-4, 2020 and it will be in Nashville, TN. Sign-up before January 1, 2020 and receive $50 off normal pricing!

Be sure to follow Griot's Eye on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube for more information, inspiration, and examples utilizing the power of graphic reporting, graphic facilitation, and visual storytelling techniques.

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