The Power of Fluid Teaming

The landscape of teaming no longer centers around just a single team working on one challenge for a period of time. Yes, such teams still exist, yet increasingly teams are as fluid as flocks of birds that fly through the sky, separate into pods, swirl back together and re-form again. Although every bird is more or less flying in the same direction, the configuration that any one bird is flying in and the group that is its flock differ from moment-to-moment.


Learning from Flocking Birds

Individual contributors are often called together quickly to do teaming, either for short periods of time or around particular projects in which collaboration is needed (1). Effective teaming supports a group’s ability to join in doing the work within whatever configuration best serves the goal at hand. This occurs across a continuum from loosely linked individual contributors to work groups to true teams requiring a high level of interdependence.

For this more fluid form of teaming, the ways in which birds group together in flight are instructive (2). Boids, a computer modeling program created by Craig Reynolds, simulates flocking behaviors via the interplay of alignment, separation, and cohesion. In other words: stick together, don’t get too close, and move in the same direction. Using just these three simple rules, Reynolds created successful computer simulations of flocking birds and schooling fish.

read more…

Happy New Year from The Grove! Download and Print Our 2017 Illustrated Calendar

For many years, The Grove has created an illustrated calendar. This year we’ve decided to offer a digital version to any and all. Artists Tiffany Forner and Malgosia Kostecka have integrated words and imagery in meaningful and metaphoric ways—much like the way we work with clients.

Two calendar formats are available:

Download/Print a one-page 11″x17″ calendar PDF.

Download/Print a 14-page 8.5″x11″ calendar (one-page-per-month) PDF.

We hope these whimsical combinations inspire you in the new year!


2017 Grove Calendar

Scott McCloud Talks Visual Communications at IFVP and Grove

Earlier this year, I attended the International Forum for Visual Practitioners, an annual convening of people who use visuals to build understanding. Among the keynote speakers was cartoonist and cartoon theorist Scott McCloud, a personal hero of mine. Here are my visual notes from his presentation.


As a graphic recorder, I especially resonate with Scott’s point that “there are no neutral visual decisions, and every decision matters.” read more…

Storymap Project Lessons – A Designer’s Perspective


I’ve worked on many Grove Storymap® projects during my 18 years at The Grove. In the beginning, it felt like wading through a swamp of data, struggling to find a way to communicate a client’s complex situation in a clear and simple way. This kind of information design was not like anything I learned as a design major in college.

After years of practice and collaboration with my esteemed colleagues, Laurie Durnell and Rachel Smith among others, it has gotten easier. Below is a summary of some things I have learned.

Don’t Panic in the Data Swamp or Data Void

Grove Storymaps provide a “big-picture” view of information that an organization finds difficult to get its arms around. Clients typically hire us to create Storymaps to help them: 1) define and communicate a strategic process, initiative or vision; 2) get bits of information all on one page to inform decision-making; and 3) build leadership and stakeholder understanding and momentum. read more…

A Project Management Consultant Becomes “The Visual Guy”

Luis Moura

Editor’s Note: Luis Moura is a project-management consultant for The City of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. He has worked as an internal consultant on projects for Calgary’s information technology, emergency response, facilities management, transportation, water, utilities, waste and recycling services.

Luis attended The Grove’s Visual Facilitation for Project Managers workshop in June. A few weeks later, we caught up with him to learn more about how he uses visual practices in his work.


Infographics: Bridge from Data to Visual

GROVE: What led you to become “The Visual Guy” on your team? Have you always been a visual person?

LUIS MOURA: Everything started in 2014 when a colleague gave me the idea to start doing some of my materials using web infographics. I searched online and found some tools. Once I began using these, I quickly got hooked and began looking for ways to translate data from meetings into visual form. read more…