Using visual language to tackle complexity

Citizens without Borders
Citizens without Borders
Public group

Gustav Tuck Lecture Theatre

2nd Floor, Wilkins Building · London WC1E 6BT

How to find us

Follow the signage: Enter UCL via main entrance on Gower St. walk toward portico and enter building on right corner of the quad, turn right, then left, then up the stairs to 2nd floor.

Location image of event venue


Using visual language to tackle complexity

As business has become more complex over recent decades, it has also become hugely more visual. Graphic facilitation, rich pictures, data visualisation, not to mention a myriad of visual workshopping techniques, have become the norm for many organisations. Businesses are dynamic, non-linear, complex systems, so it makes sense that we are evolving new, non-verbal ways to make sense of them.

Arguably, this development has not seen a parallel advance in theory and instruction, so many people’s experience of visual thinking amounts to “pretty pictures” in meetings, pictures that run the risk of compounding complexity rather than tackling it. In this session Steve will return to some fundamental principles of systems thinking, to build up a model of what it actually means to represent complexity in a meaningful way. The session will:

• Demonstrate that all of us are visual thinkers, whether we like it or not
• Provide a theoretical grounding that brings visual and systems thinking principles together
• Show that you don’t need to be able to draw to make meaningful visual representations of complexity
• Provide practical advice for non-artists to move their use of visual language beyond simple arrows and boxes

Arrival and meetup with others from 6:30pm, presentation 7pm-8pm with group discussion, networking and light refreshments afterwards.

About Steve

Steve Whitla lives and works in Oxford, where he runs Visual Meaning Ltd, a niche consultancy that builds visual models of complex systems and trains/coaches consultants and business people in visual thinking. He is a fellow of the RSA, a member of the CMI, and regularly teaches visual thinking and system mapping in both academic and non-academic settings. He writes about meaning and visual language at, and tweets at @swhitla.

This talk is being organised in conjunction with Science has no Borders and Turning to Complexity