Decoding complexity

Authored by John Ashton

During a recent assignment I was asked by @TripwireInc to graphically record* two Information Security events over the course of three days (#InfoSec15 and #BSidesLDN2015).

*Graphic recording is the art of capturing the key thoughts, ideas and discussions that happen during meetings and events. This is achieved using hand-drawn images and text created live in real time to produce visual records that act as aide memoirs for participants and a way of understanding what happened for those that were unable to attend.

Apart from the normal home user knowledge of virus prevention software and the need to keep passwords secure, Information Security was a completely new topic for me – particularly at the high-level of the industry-specific events I was working at.

However, using the graphic recorders’ mantra of actively listen > process information > draw, I was able to ‘decode’ the complexity of the 30 information security sessions I attended. The visual records I created (examples of which are shown in the image above) received extremely positive feedback from both experienced information security professionals and ‘rookies’ with less knowledge of the subjects covered.

Since the events, I have reflected on the wider ability of graphic recording (and other visual thinking tools such storymaps, rich pictures and strategy visualisation) to decode complexity across sectors and industries. My conclusion is that the role of the graphic recorder as a neutral observer (with no pre-knowledge and no personal agenda about the topics being covered) is vital in capturing key information accurately, communicating it effectively and enabling open and honest discussion across organisations as a result.

Leave a Reply