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plenary ‘That Idea of Seeing and Touching Your Work’ WHAT’S YOUR STORY? Brandy Agerbeck


Between the lines at PCMA


Convening Leaders’ Corporate HQ program.


I was the type of kid who drew all the time. It’s funny, looking back at the photos of when I was little, because I was either drawing or making stuff with clay. I went to Grinnell College [in Iowa]. Grinnell had a class called the Freshman Tutorial — it teaches you how to write and research and speak. At the end of that semester, we each had to give a speech. The night before, I pictured it in my mind: “Here are the pieces of it and this is what the shape of it is.”


The next morning I give my talk, but at the same time I’m talking, I’m turning to the chalkboard and drawing it out. I can still completely picture my profes- sor in the back of the room, just looking at me like I was an alien dropped from the sky. Like, “Why is she drawing?” So that was the first seed — where it was just truly, “Oh, this is the way I need to explain what I’m doing.” I graduated with a BA in studio art, and in my final critique, my professor said, “You’re really good at helping people talk through their ideas.”


W


hen people ask her what she does for a living, Brandy Agerbeck has a stock answer ready: “I’ve got a really strange job — I’m a graphic facilitator.” Then “cue


sound of crickets,” she writes in her 2012 book, The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide. But once you see Agerbeck in action, you immediately


recognize what it is that she does. She is one of a growing number of professionals who are hired to map ideas and information in real time, taking the raw materials of words and images — plus paper and colored markers — and finding the patterns and connections between them. Because she’s very good at what she does, Agerbeck tends to make it look like magic. But, as she explained to Convene, graphic facilitation is a practiced blend of drawing, thinking, and listening skills.


After college, I moved to Chicago and got a crappy job in an art store. A few months into it, I said, “I can’t stand this,” and I quit. I started temping. One of my classmates worked at a temp agency, and one of the contracts they were fill- ing was for Ernst & Young, the consult- ing company. That was in 1996; it [was] the middle of the consulting boom.


Ernst & Young had bought a process from a company called MG Taylor, which stands for Matt and Gail Taylor. [The Taylors] and their colleagues had created this completely phenomenal process where participants would work together for three days. Time after time, these clients would come out of this three-day workshop saying that they got six months’ or a year’s worth of work done because Matt and Gail and their colleagues had figured out how you facilitate people to problem-solve


26 PCMA CONVENE JUNE 2013 PCMA.ORG


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