If you look, you’ll find it. Visual Conversation is becoming the new normal. The more work I do with Visual Conversations, the more I see it occurring in the brilliant work of others. Just today, I read an article about assessing the flow state of engineers. Maybe you read it too. In short, Brilliant Cynthia Maxwell wrote about holding visual conversations with her engineers to assess their satisfaction with their job. The framework she uses for the conversation looks like the little drawing on the left. She asks them to plot where they think they are on the diagram. Maybe you recognize this drawing from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on Flow. Maybe, like me, you saw it for the first time in a sculpture workshop. The dot is the point at which the conversation begins. The use of a diagram that uses axes and directional arrows appeals to engineers and provides a jumping off point for a discussion about . . . wait . . . how they FEEL about the work that they are doing. And now that it is on paper, it is externalized — less threatening, less emotional. It’s a dot for Pete’s sake. But it’s personally expressed data about an emotional state. />These conversations allow her to correctly assign or support her engineers in ways that they have said they need and want.

On the right, is the chart that Maxwell uses for interpretation. As she tracks their responses over time, she can adjust the work they are doing to help them maintain a steady flow state. And if you’ve read about Flow, you know that a flow state means that this is the work you would choose to do, money or not. She is able to keep her engineers happily working at their top performance level. And so they stay. This Visual Conversation makes the difference between keeping and losing a valuable employee.

So when you think that Visual Conversation is just about fun, that idea doesn’t always apply. Often, it’s more about serious play leading to valuable outcomes.

Want to read the whole article? It’s worth it, I promise. It’s here.