Visualise your work and increase your happiness

Visualise your work and increase your happiness

Younito Man
jim benson

Jim Benson

The inventor of Personal Kanban

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to speak to Jim Benson in Melbourne. We met in a hotel restaurant and talked about why visualisation of invisible knowledge work is so powerful and why it can increase the happiness of you and your co-workers:

We start with giving you an introduction into Personal Kanban and help you to create your own Personal Kanban board. We explore why limiting the work in progress is so powerful and what might happen when you take on to much work at the same time.

Jim shares his favourite stories about “visualisation of work” from places like a hospital in Kenya to a family who uses Personal Kanban to organise the treatment plan of their elderly father.

We talk about why managing workload is so hard and what we can do about it to stay focused.

We finish with a deep dive into the psychology of happiness and why visualisation in companies can help you to stay focused and become a happy team mate.

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

Christiane Anderson from AGL about the use of bikablo® in a business transformation

Younito Man
Christiane Anderson

Christiane Anderson

Agile Coach for AGL

Business Transformation

I don’t know about you but I see many companies who put a lot of whiteboards inside their offices and I am not sure yet that they know how to make the best use of them.

Today’s guest is Christiane Anderson, she works as an Agile Coach for AGL. AGL is one of the major energy providers in Australia. AGL was founded in 1837 and was the company that lid the first gas lamp in Australia in 1841. Today they are listed as one of top 50 companies on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

This episode is about Christiane’s journey from discovering the bikablo® drawing technique. We look at how she started small by showing the value of visual facilitation to AGL before it took off and inspired others through the whole organisation. 

Additionally, we talk about visual facilitation in the context of an agile business transformation and what changes are needed in the human behaviours when working in an agile environment. We explore how agile coaching and life coaching can help each individual in the company to come along on an agile journey. 

We provide you with a couple of tips about how you can light a fire of change and lead it in your organisation. This episode is about how you can start small and become bold. 

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Christiane from AGL.

Show Notes

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

How A Community Of Practise Helps You To Grow Your Visual Facilitation Skills

Younito Man
Visual Friends Radio Cover

Attending the bikablo® visual facilitation training is only 50% of the deal. You need to apply it and keep practising on your day-to-day job. One of the best ways to improve your visual facilitation skills is by learning from each other in a community of practise. In this short episode I talk about different communities of practise I have been part of in my career and would like to invite you to join the bikablo® graduates group on LinkedIn


I would like to ask you a question. Are you part of a community of practice? Now, you might wonder, what is he talking about? Okay, let’s look into the words step-by-step and see what a community of practice means.

Are you part of a community? You’re part of a country, which is already a community. You’re part of a family, and you may be part of a work environment.

All those are communities. However, you might not think of it as a place where you learn from each other new techniques, tools or crafts because most communities are diverse and share little in common.

This is different in the community of practice. A community of practice, you meet like-minded people who want to learn the same thing in life and therefore exchange their experience.

You look for people who have achieved something you try to master right now and they act as a mentor for you. At the same time you become a leader for others. This creates a network of people learning and growing together their skill set.

Let me give you an example of a community of practice I was part of. When I first heard about the extreme programming, I was very excited to figure out what this agile approach of delivering software would mean and how I could apply it to my world.

I looked into the extreme programming (XP) community by following online discussions, attending user groups to meet like-minded people. That helped me to explore this new topic I had heart about in the podcast. I learnt from other and probably asked every question you can ask twice.

Same again when I got into visual facilitation. I discovered visual facilitation as an awesome way to interact and collaborate with people. It helps to convey my message across to the people I work with every day.

However, in the beginning it was not the easiest thing to start drawing live on a white board while people looking at your drawing and spelling mistakes. So hearing from other graphic recorders and visual facilitators about their journey helped me to learn and grow.

So why is a community of practice so important? For me this all comes back to our human needs. Let’s have a look at the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The fundament of that step ladder is safety and the fulfilment of your physiological needs. Like food and shelter. I am quite confident that you have reached that level by the pure fact that you have conditions in life that enable you to listen to this podcast. If you would worry about food and shelter you probably would not have the capacity to think about this podcast.

The next level in the Hierarchy of Needs is love and belonging. Communities of practise help at this point because it provides a group of people who like to do the same things you like and everyone shares their experience. You notice that your challenges are not so different from others and that someone found a solution for your problem already.

Level up on Maslow’s ladder again and we talk about esteem or acknowledgement by others. Esteem gives you the feeling that you are on the right track. I often come home from Meetups and have the feeling that I do well and should progress my path. I also feel good because I could help others on their journey. Some people need more acknowledgement some people less. However, most people need a bit of the good feeling and the comfort that we are on the right track.

The final step in that hierarchy is the self-actualisation. Self-actualization is a tricky one. Some people say they just know what they should do in life and feel like they are called to do it. However for me this is not so clear – I enjoy learning new things and passing them on. For many it is the quest about what you want to do with your life and who you would like to become.

So why am I telling you that? First of all, I believe that coming to my bikablo® visual facilitation training is only 50% of your job. You need to find your community of practise, simply to keep practising and learning from others. If you are from Melbourne or Sydney we have Meetups around visual facilitation. The Melbourne Meetup is hosted by me and you are welcome to learn about visual facilitation even if you haven’t participated in a bikablo® training.”

However, there is more. I’m very proud to present to you a new bikablo® community of practise. It is a closed network for bikablo® graduates that are now practising their visual thinking and facilitation skills on their day-to-day job. The group is hosted on Linkedin and every training attendee from the past got invited.

I believe that those communities are even stronger because you already made some commitment by coming to a bikablo® training. This online community of practice is a community where you find people that are one the same journey. They might have been in the training two-month earlier but we are on the same journey together. On top of that you can ask questions to other bikablo® trainers who hang out with you. The beauty is that each trainer is different. I apply bikablo® is the world of agile coaching and culture change but we have trainers who use bikablo® for process mapping, business consulting or counselling. All bikablo® trainers together have more than 150 years of visual facilitation experience.

If you have participated in a bikablo® training in Europe, Australia or Asia. Please accept my invite to the bikablo® graduates community. If you haven’t been to a bikablo® training just follow the link below and join the bikablo® community of practise tomorrow.

Please remember that the training is just the kick-start. You need to keep the engine running and learn on daily bases.

Thank you very much for listening to bikablo® insight, and I hope to see you in one of the trainings in Sydney, Melbourne or anywhere in Europe.

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

Helping others with a pen and improve your company culture

Younito Man
Visual Friends Radio Cover

Why are we hesitating to ask for help?

Helping others is natural to us but asking for help is sometimes difficult to many. The reason behind lays in the way we grew up, how we were raised and not at last in a school system that was focused on competition and performance not on collaboration and creative thinking. However, todays challenges in business lay in the ability to solve complex problems together as a team and for me one of the most important steps to become a strong team is to overcome the fear of asking for help and embrace the fact that nobody is perfect. Through that asking for help becomes a personal strength. Remember todays problems are just too complex for one brain anyway.

From going grey with a problem to a collaborative team session in 8 steps

In this insight episode I walk you through a scenario how you can offer help as a visual leader. You don’t have to be the subject matter expert – just a good listener with a pen using a whiteboard. Often it is enough that the person who has the problem steps out of the problem space for a moment and explains the challenge to someone else. I explain you my 8-steps to help him/her to unblock any problem solving. By following the 8-steps you have a chance to engage even more people of your team in the solution design and through that improve your team and company culture on the long run. These steps are not always strictly followed, they shall be a guide to get started as a visual leader on a whiteboard.

I hope you enjoy this episode! Please share it in your network if it is useful for you.

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

David Landry about Agile Transformations using bikablo® Drawing Technique

Younito Man
David Landry

David Landry

Head of Agile Transformation

What is an agile transformation?

I would like to ask you a question! Can you image you walk into a company and tell everyone to change the way they work? Maybe even question their values? Or find a new vision for what they would like to achieve? That is what an agile transformation often is about. Today I speak to David Landry. He works as a principal consultant at Elabor8 and he has facilitated an agile transition with his college Andrew Thorpe at a Melbourne University using the bikablo® drawing technique.

How they have introduced the change

The way they have facilitated this agile transformation it is quite disruptive in itself. They have banned PowerPoint from the first day they arrived and introduced the bikablo® drawing technique using it instead of PowerPoint from the first meeting to all the team and project meetings.

He shares his experience with drawing live in front of other people. I hope you enjoy this conversation with David Landry from Elabor8.

You can’t draw or think that you can’t facilitate a meeting on a whiteboard yet? I would like to invite you to come to my next bikablo® visual facilitation training and learn the simple drawing technique that so far more than 1000 people worldwide have learnt.


Marcel: So welcome everybody. I’m here with David Landry from Elabor8. You are a principal consultant at Elabor8?

David: Yes, I’m a principal consultant at Elabor8. That’s correct.

Marcel: Let’s start with – What is Elabor8?

David: Elabor8 is a company that has been in business now for five years. It’s been steadily growing. Just recently, we opened up an office in Sydney. Elabor8 is a leader in agile development practices specializing very much around business analysis. We’re now taking a leading role in Agile Transformation and leading large organizations in their Agile Journey, like the one we’re going to talk about today. Their agile journey focuses initially on how they engage with business across all technology and other areas. So Agile Transformation has become a specialized area in Elabor8. We’re looking at the whole software development and how agile is used there. We want to connect business and technology groups together.

Marcel: And if I’m right, agile transformation means you take people on a journey to transform the way they work before and more engaged. What does an agile transformation mean in this context?

David: I think that’s a good question. Agile comes with a lot of baggage in many organizations today. Many organisations have a view that agile is just an adoption of a lot of ceremonies. We, Elabor8 take organisation through the underlying principles, if you like, the “science” behind the fundamentals of agile. So we look at Lean and Kanban. We look at particular methodologies, Scrum and the Scaled-agile frameworks and talk about what does that mean to the way your teams work, how do the various parts of the organization engage and most importantly, what’s the difference for leadership within those frameworks.

Marcel: And when we look at this university where you work now, I think, with a colleague together, what is his name?

David: Andrew Thorpe.

Marcel: Yeah.

David: He is acting as Scrum Master, Business Analyst and a mentor across the day-to-day working of the agile groups.

Marcel: So can you describe the scenario a bit? What are you doing here at this university?

David: So I’m going to take a step back and talk about how we got involved in the first instance: We were approached by a department within a university that has been trying to implement a new system for their operation and their engagement across the university. And it had been struggling over the last 12 to 18 months. We had a meeting with the senior directors and they decided to take an entirely different approach. So we introduced them into the “thinking” of taking an agile journey, but we didn’t really describe the Agile processes. We didn’t really get heavily into what that means, other than to say do you want to try something entirely different. Would you like a lot more transparency and openness and building a different communication? Of course, the answer is very simple, yes, yes and yes. So that’s set the context of how we started to work with the leadership and the teams. What was surprising is that while people were being taken out of their comfort zone, they were all equally ready for something different to take place. So we soften our conversation around agile practices and talked more about leadership and transparency. And this is where visualization stepped in.

Marcel: So how do you use now visual facilitation? I think Andrew came to my class maybe a half year ago. I think it was in July. Now it’s December and you were at my class in September. How does visual facilitation has now been playing in this agile transformation?

David: There were two things that we stipulated right from the beginning. The first was to get all the teams together into a combined planning session. Secondly, traditionally conversations with the team were based on PowerPoint presentations. So we decided that there would be no PowerPoints and that we would use Visual Facilitation. Our approach was that we prepared sheets with just simple words and diagrams drawn upon them and then during the facilitation, planning session we developed and captured further information during the facilitation. The key point that we were making is that the sheets were going to be long-lived and visible. That they are to be taken back to the workspaces and put up on the walls as a constant visual reminder.

Marcel: Yes, I have the same experience. I worked as an agile trainer and it felt for me wrong to talk about transparency and quick and easy way to work when not having such an easy simple way actually to create transparency. By creating flip charts on the wall where you have something explained, teams can actually own that and take it back to their team area. I think it makes absolute sense what you just said.

David: I had seen a traditional approach of implementing agile and a lot of it was training and talking about things and concepts and those typical the things that you do in Scrum. And what we really wanted to focus was more to take a journey of transparency and collaboration and building a vision.

We weren’t as confident in the drawing and to do it dynamically, so we focused on drawing simple banners and headings, borders, using just two colours. We establish sheets for the vision and the “Why”. Previously there wasn’t a common understanding of the vision. There wasn’t something binding people (team) together as to why this project was important and how it was going to help the university.

Marcel: If I get you right had like a “half prepared flipchart sheets” with you and then you take the people on a journey with drawing live. Was this the way you did it?

David: Correct. Also, for instance, when the program director presented the vision we had spare sheets to capture group discussion points. These were added to the vision.

Marcel: Yes.

David: Interestingly, for the Vision sheets used later sessions with the extended business owners and actually drilling into benefits for the university. The revised sheets were taken by an Graphic Artist who created a series of more formal version of these drawings.

Marcel: I didn’t catch what they did. Did they take pictures?

David: So basically, they created graphics from all these drawings and stylize the graphics. I’m sure, Marcel, if you could have been there you would have been able to draw a better piece.

Marcel: No, I wouldn’t have done a better one.

David: But they were then able to focused very much on just some program icons.

Marcel: If I get it right, they took snapshots of parts of your drawings and then use them as a key visual in their PowerPoint presentation?

David: Not in PowerPoint.

Marcel: All right. Okay.

David: They produced A1 sheets.

Marcel: Nice!

David: These Graphic Sheet are used in community showcases. A lot of it is that you are able to visualize and be able to have a conversation with a group of people about vision, outcome and what this will do for the university that will enable further development of that vision and actually fine tune the messaging, not only for the teams, but for many other stakeholders and the wider community.

Marcel: For me what I experienced in the past when I had prepared slide decks and used them, they become like a power tool because you basically put people in front of a very solid plan even if it’s maybe your best guess. But it looks like this is what we do. Instead when you draw on paper just by the different technology, just by having this very soft approach people have the feeling that you take them more on a journey, even if the same background maybe you spend weeks preparing it both, right? But it becomes often for me something that makes it easier to take people on the journey. So you have any experience around this?

David: Absolutely. Last Friday we ran another planning session for another sub-part of the overall program. We had about 30 people in the room. The agenda sheet, which was prepared, was placed around the room along with other sheets with the headings of Risks, Plan Objectives, goals, etc

Marcel: Yeah.

David: So the engagement was a lot stronger. Again all the sheets were taken back to their work. They’re reminders of the collaboration, the planning, the votes of confidence and the agreement that the team did together. The information on these sheets covered a number of areas of technology, configuration, environments, etc. Some of the discussion got quite technical, but this gave the business stakeholders an appreciation of what’s required to deliver a working software. So the respect and understanding of what everybody has to do is now recorded in all the various sheets. All brought together, at the end of the day, with a common set of objectives and goals for the team, for the next period of time. We are only planning on a short time horizon of about six weeks. It is just way too much to try and do any more than that.

Marcel: I try something that is maybe too farfetched but for what had happened for me was when you do an agile transformation a lot of marketing is involved by sharing the ideas about the new mindset, new processes, new tools that you use. It’s a bit like an advertisement. You basically the poster and take it back to your place, right? So it reminds you of this change.

David: Well, it becomes very powerful because then when you start to break out into the small sessions to do feature story planning for the next couple of sprints, there is an understanding of the deliverables.

Marcel: Yeah.

David: The problem is most people had a good understanding of Agile and a lot of the leadership thought they had a good understanding of agile. But as I said right at the outset, they saw it more as a bunch of ceremonies that their teams would use to deliver something useful. The second area I think we brought to overall facilitation was that we’re able to get a lot more concurrency of doing business process design, data transformation, the configuration of systems, and development of systems and the integration of systems in common cadence and common sprints. Having business processes change alongside system development and configuration being implemented is a way to bring users and all stakeholders into the program. For me, another powerful aspect of the visualisation is when we had other managers from other departments visit the project they were lead along the journey. They would start with the vision, then the objectives before moving to the Kanban walls.

Marcel: Yeah.

David: And they were able to explain to those people the whole context and where the program is at. So they we able to use the visualization of the objectives, ideas and concepts.

Marcel: Nice.

All right you used visual facilitation at the university. But what hasn’t worked? Where does this live drawing reach the limit?

David: It’s very hard you answer that question because for me I see nothing but up at the moment because this is the first time that I’ve used it. So I actually don’t see many negatives. Traditionally to engage large groups with different stakeholders that normally do not worked together, we would run a well prepared session with a number of PowerPoints. Capture information from the discussion and send that back as a report. In effect the intent of the meeting is some-what lost or at least diminished.

I would have liked to add more drawings. We found that when we are rushed we revert back to writing words or one or two words and we’re not quite segmenting it and creating boxes and those sort of things. I think that we’ve got to get discipline and practice around using some icons and drawings. So we have made some commitment to do this, we’ve got the (bikablo icon) cards and we’ll start looking at using them as aids to a lot more stronger visualization.

Marcel: Bigger metaphors?

David: Yeah. I think we’re falling back to the habits of just writing sentences and words and dot points but all being just sticking up around the wall.

Marcel: But on there, don’t take it too hard. You put words on a picture and map this out, it’s already a drawing for our eyes. So even if there are no key visuals in it I think it’s already a change. By spacing out the page and, yeah, makes sense.

David: Yeah. I think we can get a lot better. So you just don’t have the same banner headings especially when you are developing the program principles, objectives and goals.

Marcel: So you’re referring to something we do in the training which is like the level of certainty and we have like guess bubbles, speech bubble, where you have a goal post and —

David: Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Marcel: — when you are certain of your answers or you have an agreement.

David: Yeah. So we are hanging the project off these principles and —

Marcel: Yeah. That makes sense.

David: — and we found that that was a lot better. The other thing too I’ll have to say from our perspective and Andrew is not here, it’s a lot more enjoyable to you as a presenter and a facilitator. It gives you a different dimension of how to engage the audience. One of the things I think that worked really well last Friday was to keep people time boxed. So you’ve written some stuff up there and then you start to close out the session by putting borders around the drawings and moving on because you’re not adding much more value to the conversation.

Marcel: Yeah.

David: Another thing I would add, it would have been hard to do the facilitation if you were the only one in the room and doing the writing.

Marcel: Highly recommend to do that together.

David: With the two of us we were taking turns to who was writing. The other one would have to slow the group down and make certain you got the key points. And so you need a fair amount of discipline and to make certain that the group own the words that have been written on the various sheets.

Marcel: So last question. Where from here? If you look for this university what do you think would be their next step or what do you think your next step is with visual facilitation?

David: It’s a good question. I think there is sort of two parts to that question. One. what does it mean to Elabor8?

Marcel: Yeah.

David: I think it’s a major ingredient used for all executive-type engagements as we’ll actually do far less preparing of PowerPoints and packs. We may have only one pack where we’re going to talk about some repetitive stuff or references. So we use the visualization to draw the engagement out. The second thing is if we’re being true to the agile principles is that we want the teams to own this visualization themselves and we’ve been encouraging this as we hand the control back to the various scrum masters and other people who are wanting to take on mentor roles. We’re advising them that they should be doing this sort of visual facilitation course as well. So it isn’t just left with a consultant firm who came in and did some nice drawing around the wall, did some different type of the facilitation. We leave the skill set with them.

Marcel: You actually empower them to do it themselves.

David: So we’ve been discussing that and we have been talking about using visual facilitation in some of the showcases where there’s a larger audience and that there should be some sort of “chalk and talk” element that’s quite dynamic in the presentations. So I think we’re going to make certain that they adopt the skill and they own the outcome.

Marcel: All right. David, thank you very much for your time and thanks for sharing this story with this university and yeah, let’s see where we go, 2016.

David: Yes.

Marcel: Thanks.

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

How to solve conflicts and improve the company culture?

Younito Man
Marcel van Hove

Marcel van Hove

Agile Coach, Visual Facilitator & Trainer Co-Founder Visual Friends

In the Visual Friends Radio Insights, I would like to share with you some experiences I have in my daily life working as an agile coach and visual facilitator. My name is Marcel van Hove and I hope you enjoy this episode called “The whiteboard dance”.


A couple of months ago I was working with two teams. One team was the front end and the other was the backend team. The backend team builds services that the frontend team would consume and build a beautiful user interface on top of it.
They were located on an open floor plan probably not more than 50 meters away from each other. Normally they would walk over to the other team if they had questions or need help.

One day things were a bit different. I noticed that when I walked past the frontend team they were a bit nervous and looked at me like they wanted to talk or needed help. I came closer and started chatting. It turned out that the new backend service didn’t behave as expected and even worse they were under pressure to release that day.

Because they were running on a tight schedule negative behaviour appeared that normally wouldn’t happen. The frontend team started blaming the other team for building a crappy API.

I walked over to the backend team to have a chat with them and explained what had just occurred to me.

As it turned out they already knew about the problem and had a clear answer for it. They didn’t agree that the problem lay in their API and it would behave as expected.

So here we are, the frontend team thinks they were provided with an API that does not meet their requirements while the backend team believe they have implemented a more than capable that has been integrated incorrectly.

At this point, you as the leader are at an intersection. One direction is labelled “The Blame Game” and the other direction is called “Road to Greatness”.

If you drive down the road of the blame game your teams will learn this behaviour and repeat it again and again. Long-term this behaviour destroys any company and makes it a miserable place to work.

I think most of us know that path. Things get escalated and you waste time in unproductive meetings where everyone tries to protect themselves. People act based on their reptile mind. If you’re strong enough you might attack – If you are weak you try to survive.

I ask you – independent of your role in your organisation – to step in and follow me on the “Road to Greatness”. I believe doing something great every day in a company will nurture the right behaviour and change the company’s culture in the long term for the better.

So let’s get back to our story. I said to the backend team, “Guys, We have two opposite understandings of the same services – We need to get together!” “Who can come around and help?” I only asked for one or two people, but actually, the whole team stood up and walked with me over to the other team.

If you walk up somewhere with almost ten people you have an impact. They immediately stopped working and were surprised but happy that we took them seriously. I didn’t wait for an introduction and asked for attention:

I walked up to the whiteboard. Luckily, almost all the walls in the office are whiteboard walls so that we don’t need to drag someone into a meeting room.

Of course, I do a terrible job trying to explain the picture but often it is on you to get the first lines and boxes up on the wall. With that, you break the ice and set the right attitude and positive energy. People from both teams corrected my drawing and helped to finish the picture.

Let us pause here for a second. How is the situation now different to 15 minutes ago?

Before, we had two teams not talking to each other. Now we have two teams helping me draw the problem up on a whiteboard.

That is the beginning of a dance and this dance is about
• Pruning out any negative emotions by parking them on the wall.
• Keeping a positive attitude by focusing on the drawing.
• Creating a comprehensive picture on the wall so that people can ask each other questions.
• Preparing the team to take over again and passing the pen on to the teams.
• Creating options to solve the challenge.

It is a dance because no matter who steps on whose toes you keep on smiling and moving forward. You, as the person drawing, set small impulses that guide the group to draw the next line.

I start this dance as a neutral facilitator in front of the whiteboard by drawing the first lines and boxes. From here both teams help each other. It is like they would shake hands and agree to dance together. (Shaking hands is what I learnt to do before you dance with someone. At least when I went to classical dance school more than 20 years ago.)

Now, both teams throw great ideas at the whiteboard and create the picture on the wall to get “one shared understanding”. And whenever someone steps out of this agreement and steps on someone else’s toes you, as the visual facilitator says, “Thank you, let me park this here on the wall.” But you don’t cut off, this would disengage them from the dance.

Back to the story and what happened next. We were standing in a half-circle in front of the board. We got the situation mapped out and very soon some people started creating ideas about what the reason for the misunderstanding could be. Then they grabbed their laptop, opened the screen and had a look at the data structure underneath and bang: They knew what the problem was. They solved it and released on the same day and by the way, at this point, they took over driver seat again and were in charge of the dance.

So why was this interruption and drawing together so important? I think the answer becomes obvious when you think about the options you have. You can either talk about the problem and document it and much later come to a meeting. But when you come to that meeting the problem has already become bigger then it actually is. The costs of delay have increased so that a lot of attention is on the topic. Additionally, you lost an opportunity to create a real connection between two awesome teams.

Most of the time, problems in IT are just little communication gaps that need to be closed. If you have this understanding stopping two teams from working and bringing them together is the right choice. Especially when you want to build an awesome company where people are not just good, they’re really great. They really rock the show and they build something awesome.

I hope you enjoyed this little insight into my world. And if you found it useful, please jump over on iTunes and subscribe. Give us a rating, share it with your friends, write us a comment that really helps us to get the word out and make more people aware of the bikablo drawing technique.

Additionally, if you think that person is really interesting and should be on the show or you have a request to talk about a topic – Please write me an email and I will get back to you.

I wish you a great rest of the week whichever office you draw on a whiteboard. If you think you can’t draw: I run monthly training in Australia, New Zealand and Live Online via Zoom. If you’re in Europe and listening to that there are monthly training in German-speaking Europe as well as in London and other cities. If you can’t find a bikablo visual facilitation training close to you, just write me an email!

Things to read from here:

Stop the line principle explained by Eric Ries
What visual facilitation is about?

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

How Nicole Brand became a Visual Leader

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Nicole Brand

Nicole Brand

Business Analyst at MYOB


In this episode Nicole Brand shares her story how she became a visual leader: I had the fortune to work with Nicole Brand for the last 18 month on a daily bases. I saw her progressing from not feeling confident enough to participate in meetings to the point where people follow Nicole’s lead into any meeting room and come along on her visual journeys. I have never seen a steeper learning curve in terms of visual leadership than Nicoles before – I hope the podcast inspires you as much as Nicole inspired me!


Nicole:                               For me, the biggest tip is, don’t be afraid to not know everything and pass the pen on to someone else who knows more.

Marcel:                              Welcome everybody to the bikablo® radio, the Visual Facilitation Podcast. With me here today in Melbourne is Nicole Brand. Welcome, Nicole.

Nicole:                               Hi, everyone. Thank you, Marcel.

Marcel:                              Nicole is working as a product owner in a company called MYOB. Tell us a bit about who you are, where you come from, what you do?

Nicole:                               Yes, sure. I’ve been living in Melbourne for the last 20 years. Absolutely love it. It is my new home. I live with a couple of cats. I could be a crazy cat lady in the making.

Marcel:                              Great.

Nicole:                               When I’m not at home with my cats then I’m out practising yoga and learning how to be a yoga teacher which is also really exciting and if you can’t tell I do like trying to keep myself busy and doing 101 different things. I also work at MYOB as a product owner. I have been with the MYOB for the last 13 years. So I’ve actually been able to work in a number of different roles over the last six or seven years.

Marcel:                              You came to bikablo® visual facilitation drawing class 11 months ago.

Nicole:                               Yes.

Marcel:                              When you look before that time, how was your way of working differently?

Nicole:                               Yeah, sure. Really, really different. Within MYOB I’ve had a number of different roles, but at all times I’ve always had to collaborate and work with people. Interestingly, I never really felt equipped or I had the tools or the resources to really facilitate a good meeting and drive to the outcomes. Back then it was quite common to have meetings that didn’t really end with a solution or a resolution or with the outcome that we’re looking for which is perpetuating itself into more meetings.

I also didn’t necessarily have the confidence as well to actually facilitate and to drive things to the right outcomes because I didn’t really feel like I necessarily have the tools. I actually had just a life of meetings.

Marcel:                              A life of meetings, yes. They don’t always come to an outcome and you felt like you don’t have the right tools to drive those meetings.

Nicole:                               Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes we would actually have people in the room who would be able to drive things to the right outcomes, but it was not something that I necessarily felt empowered to do or that I felt confident in doing. I mean, to grab a pen and walk up to a whiteboard. No, thank you. That was definitely not my mode of operation. Especially not with the sort of other stakeholders and management there. Yeah, definitely not.

Marcel:                              Then you came then to the training last October and you went to quite a journey with me, you’ll agree. We started the fundamentals class in October and then you came to the practitioner class. Then you actually gave me a hand another day with co-facilitating right and so you have done all the classes and so how has this played out for you? How’s the last journey of the last year?

Nicole:                               First of all, my confidence has increased dramatically over the last year. So much so that I’ve actually had colleagues walk up to me and tell me how they see me as being a completely different person to what they saw a couple of years ago.

Marcel:                              What is different about you?

Nicole:                               It’s being confident and being able to distil conversations down to an essence and being able to visualize that on a whiteboard and being able to take everyone on that journey. There’s nothing more powerful than actually taking a pen to a whiteboard engaging everyone in the room so that they’re all looking at you. Well, actually that’s the best part. They are not looking at you. They’re looking at the whiteboard which is also really nice. You don’t necessarily have all of the eyes on you.

Marcel:                              It’s not so confronting anymore.

Nicole:                               Yes.

Marcel:                              You now have the tool to break through and get the people on to a collaborative whiteboard drawing situation which is much more your playground.

Nicole:                               Exactly. Yes.

Marcel:                              Great. Give us an insight into how the day looks like now in your role. If I’m right, you work as a product owner now at MYOB for a team and how does a day look like for you now?

Nicole:                               Now I will have meetings, but definitely nowhere near as many. I mean ideally, everyone wants zero meetings but, yeah, that’s a perfect world, ideal thing. Now my meetings are actually reduced to half an hour. I do not book meetings longer than 30 minutes which is really quite exciting. Everyone walks in with a clear understanding after I’m able to basically take them through what it is they’re looking or we’re looking to talk about.

By the end, we’ve got clear action points, a clear understanding of who’s actually going to walk away with different pieces of work and it’s all done before people get an email. It’s all done in a way where people get buy-in into what it is that they are supposed to be doing. Probably one of the things that I’ve never really liked is walking into a meeting and then you have a conversation and you walk out, and an hour later the meeting notes come through and you’ve got things against your name and either (a) they don’t look like what you originally discussed or (b) you didn’t even know your name was there.

It’s just really nice to be able to walk away with that so that everyone has that clear understanding of what needs to happen next.

Marcel:                              That means in half an hour you fill a small piece of paper or you fill a wall or what?

Nicole:                               Thankfully, in the office in most of the meeting rooms we actually have two whiteboards. So more often then not I’ll usually have one or both whiteboards full.

Marcel:                              After half an hour, right. This is like two and a half square meters of space.

Nicole:                               Yeah. Two whiteboards might be if it goes longer than half an hour.

Marcel:                              Do you replace meeting minutes?

Nicole:                       The pictures are the meeting minutes.

Marcel:                              All right.

Nicole:                               Yeah.

Marcel:                              Okay. Cool.

Nicole:                               It’s really nice because I usually have someone who’s part of the meeting take a picture of it so that they can also take ownership of it and pass it around to everyone who attended in the meeting. We can then put that up on different wiki pages that we have as well so we can use that for future reference. It’s really quite useful and it’s quite easy to put yourself back into that conversation when you look back at it.

Marcel:                              Nicole, what was the first role at MYOB?

Nicole:                               Helpdesk.

Marcel:                              Helpdesk?

Nicole:                               Yes.

Marcel:                              Then you move to be a business analyst, senior business analyst and then now a product owner in MYOB. There are folks out there who are on a similar journey. What is the one tip you would like to share with the world when people facilitate meetings or bring people together to collaborate?

Nicole:                               Yes, sure. Probably one of the key things is you don’t need to have all the answers. You don’t need to know all of the answers when you’re facilitating. You don’t need to know where you’re going on the journey. You don’t even need to know how to communicate things visually on a whiteboard. Because at the end of the day you’re the person standing up there in front of the whiteboard. You’ve got the pen in your head and whoever has that pen has the attention of people and there’s nothing more powerful than to actually empower someone else to be able to share the message and to communicate and be part of that collaboration picture.   For me, the biggest tip is, don’t be afraid to not know everything and pass the pen on to someone else who knows more.

Marcel:                              I like that. Pass the pen on.

Nicole:                               Yeah.

Marcel:                              Great. All right. If you’re interested, guys out there, to learn more about check out the bikablo® academy website. It will be in the show note. There are training coming in Sydney and Melbourne. Find them in to show note and thank you for listening. Thank you, Nicole, for attending. Do you have anything you want to share before we wrap up?

Nicole:                               Have fun.

Marcel:                              Yay!

Nicole:                               Visualising is so much fun. I used to absolutely visualise everything that I do more often than not because it’s so much easier to do and it’s so much fun. There’s no boundaries to it, absolutely no boundaries. So put any on there and just enjoy it for what it is.

Marcel:                              Cool. Thank you very much and have a great weekend, Nicole.

Nicole:                               Thank you, Marcel.

Marcel:                              All right.

Nicole:                               Thank you, everyone.

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

Graphic Recording of Agile Australia

Last week I had the honour to create a graphic recording for Activate Agile session of the Agile Australia 2014. It was a really nice day which brought students and future employers together.

Seven great and inspiring agile professionals across different companies described their daily work-life in their agile companies. The audience was mostly students and were invited to ask questions to the panel on stage. Awesome idea of the organizers to bring the graduates of the future together with great employers.

The stop-motion video below summarizes the 2:30 hours of lightning talks, question and answers sessions from the seven inspiring Melbournians on stage! Check it out!

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

The waiting snake – High utilisation in the land of knowledge work

Younito Man
Marcel van Hove

Marcel van Hove

Co-founder of Visual Friends

The book “Flow”

During the last 3 month I am reading through the book Flow by Donald G. Reinertsen. I had it on my iPad for ages but was too busy to read it. This book belongs definitly to my Top10 of the most enlightening books ever read! I think Donald Reinersten did a great job in bringing Matchs and Product Development together, but he fails in explaining the content to a wider audience like me.

The waiting snakes

I am reading chapters over and over again to get the full understanding. I thought it would be great to turn a chapter into a little video. This following video is based on the capture about “Queues” that I renamed into “Waiting Snakes”. I added my personal experience as an agile coach and visual facilitator – I hope you have fun watching it!

Enjoy the video!

Marcel van Hove

Marcel combines agile team coaching with visual thinking. Marcel believes that a group of people drawing together on a whiteboard can change the world. He loves high-performing teams and therefore coaches teams every day.

Visual Summary of the LAST Conference Melbourne

Younito Man
Marcel van Hove

Marcel van Hove

Co-Founder Visual Friends & Agile Coach

I was looking forward to the LAST conference for quite a while. Last week the LAST conference took finally place at the Swimburn university in Melbourne.

After I gave my talk about visual thinking (PDF), I invested the rest of the day drawing one visual summary of the LAST conference. I would like to thank all conference visitors for their help and their visual notes without that big sheet of paper would be still white and boring!

Furthermore, I would like to thank Ed Wong and Craig Brown for their great organization of the LAST conference.

Younito has an idea

Progress at lunch time

I started early setting up my easel and getting paper and markers ready. I pencilled a layout in that I had in my mind and got started on the headline (in the middle).  

Younito is thinking

Progress at lunch time

In the afternoon I drew in all the insides that I got on post-its and brought them onto paper. 

The final work around 4pm


The article was written by Natalia Tsygankova. Natalia has always loved words and talking to people. She has put that passion to good use and has been sharing people’s stories in the community radio, TV and print media for the last 10 years. Natalia is also a big fan of true storytelling events and regularly volunteers at the most famous one – The Moth, interviewing the winner. You can hear her own story of moving to Australia from Russia in 1999 here. Natalia believes that everyone has a story – So what’s yours? Contact her today to share your story.

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