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Visual Storytelling

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Through the creation of a narrative mind map, this method aims to clarify and illuminate key issues, synergies, challenges, and potentials related to a specific issue. It can also be used to communicate key points to others.


This method consists of a two-step approach that combines the power of mind maps with story creation and visual communication. In the first part, participants reflect on a specific project or an issue that they would like to think through more deeply. Framing the issue as a heroic story, they identify the
plot, characters, obstacles and opportunities. Crafting such a narrative acts as an organizational mental schema. On the one hand, the narrative creation provides a structure to an issue they are facing or a case they are dealing with; on the other hand, it allows for moments of serendipity, recognizing aspects previously unnoticed. As a second step, they translate the story into a visual form. Sketching a drawing or a mind map, they are able to give a tangible form to the different elements involved, and communicate it to others. As the sketch is by nature incomplete, it can foster discussion and invite the group to offer additional ideas or unravel conundrums in the story. As a next step, this method can be used with More-Than-Human Intervision.


  1. Introduce the purpose and overview of the exercise;
  2. Ask participants to think of an issue they would like to explore, and to note down initial ideas about how to communicate
    it in story form. You can aid the process with some guiding questions (sample script): What is the key plot? Who are the main characters? What is the journey or hope for a happy ending? What is the prologue? At what point are we in the story arc? Where does the story take place (could be literal or more mythical)?
  3. Invite participants to include key resources, magic powers or objects, allies, obstacles, and who or what might play a negative role in the story. Resources can include more intangible elements, such as local pride or love for a specific place. Allies could include ‘more-than-human’ stakeholders or wisdom from past generations. Potential obstacles could include people’s distrust of outsiders, default mindsets, outdated regulations, etc.;
  4. After the story concept is clear, ask each person to visually sketch their story on a large sheet of paper, using a graphic form of their choice (drawing, mind mapping, etc.). Remind them that they will be asked to share their drawing with others later;
  5. When the allocated time is up, ask people to share their drawn stories in pairs or small groups;
  6. (optional) Participants could ask each other clarifying questions or make suggestions, and the drawings can be elaborated on in another short round.

Place on U
20 - 60 minutes
Materials Needed

Large sheets of paper (A3 or larger); colourful markers.

Future Visioning
Emotional Intelligence
Online Engagement
Cognitive Frames & Mental Models
Surfacing Hidden Dynamics
Ideation & Brainstorming
Care & Empathy
Tip and Experiences
  • Give clear examples that can help trigger creativity
  • Break the exercise into smaller chunks of time

Relevant References & Resources

Story Path for Learning: ‘Story Path

Brand (2017). Visual Thinking: Empowering People & Organizations through Visual Collaboration.

Cappello & Walker (2016). Visual Thinking Strategies: Teachers’ Reflections on Closely Reading Complex Visual Texts Within the Disciplines.

Novak (1990). Concept Mapping: A Useful Tool for Science Education.

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