Strategic Insights to Inspire your Journey

One Concise Visual Can Capture Your Whole Strategy

This week we have a guest post from my long-time collaborator and master graphic recorder and illustrator, Emily Shepard.

Once you’ve gone through the process of developing your strategy, the next challenge is communicating it clearly to your stakeholders. But, what is the best way to share complex thinking? Rather than going the default route of making a slide deck, I’d advocate instead for telling your story through a picture.

Unlike a bulleted list on a slide deck, a one-page visual image allows you see how all the elements of your strategy integrate. You can see how the parts connect – where you’re headed, how you’ll get there, your differentiators, etc. You might even include a few key competitors to show how your strategy catapults you past them! As humans we love stories, and if you can put your strategy in the context of a journey, or use another resonant metaphor, you’ll be able to spark the imagination and emotions of your audience.

Most importantly, a visual adds to the “stickiness” of your message. The brain processes visuals with text faster and more completely than when the text is presented all by itself. This is known as the picture superiority effect. When images and narrative are combined, it increases our ability to recall and retain information by 42%. And when you’re rolling out a new strategy it is essential that everyone fully understands it, can picture it, and can see their role within it.


Here’s an example – a high level visual framework I created for the landscaping firm of Cagwin & Dorward. (Shared with their permission).  They use this picture internally to engage and educate their associates, and also share it with their clients. In this case, they were looking to express not only their strategy and results, but also their mission, vision, values, guiding principles and their environmental statement. That would be overwhelming if it were just text on the page! Instead, the landscape itself acts as a frame that organizes the zones of content, and the metaphor is simply that of walking the (beautifully landscaped) path, supported by their bedrock values. The icons clarify the wording, and give people a way to picture the desired practices and outcomes.

Let us know you would like to learn more about creating a custom illustration for your strategy or to hire a graphic recorder to work with you on your next strategy discussion. We would love to help.

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Post Tags: Strategic Planning Strategic Management

Emily Shepard

WRITTEN BY:Emily Shepard