Talent Acquisition

Drawing Out Cognitive HR: Spotlight on IBM InterConnect Artist Tanya Gadsby

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How do you wrangle the complicated ideas of corporate heads into a simple, impactful narrative? Just ask Tanya Gadsby, owner of Drawing Out Ideas, which specializes in live graphic recording and facilitation, animations and infographics. Gadsby will be on hand at IBM InterConnect 2017 from March 20-23 to create full-scale illustrations at the IBM Talent Management booth based on the future of talent acquisition. Employee engagement? She lives, breathes, and draws it. Here’s a preview of what to expect at  InterConnect.

1. You call your pieces of art “graphic recordings.” Can you explain why you use art as a means to recording?

This is a question I’m asked a lot! “Graphic recording” (also called “sketchnotes” or “visual notes”) is the translation of a discussion into organized images and text. This is done in real time during conferences, events, or meetings and the result is a big picture map of the discussion. It engages the audience in the meeting and helps them make connections between ideas.

2. What are some of the most surprising reactions to your work?

People are surprised by the power of metaphor. For example, I was graphic recording a strategic planning session for a large company, helping them visually map out their next 10 years. We framed the discussion around a mountain climb with various peaks as achievements toward their ideal future. Because of this metaphor, the team was better able to step out of their “silos” and see their work in a new way, and the final visual map was a powerful illustration of the next 10 years that is mounted in their conference room.

3. You created onsite graphics at World of Watson. What will be different about your presence at InterConnect?

People who stop by our booth will have their ideas integrated into one large “living art” wall! It’s going to be a big-picture snapshot of everyone’s experience at InterConnect and specifically around Cognitive and HR. You won’t want to miss this selfie opportunity!

4. Your live “recordings” are great examples of listening, which is a huge theme in employee engagement. What have you learned from your own listening that might be applied to corporate practices?

In conversations, we often aren’t listening to understand another person, but instead are waiting for our turn to speak. As a graphic recorder, it’s essential I listen to understand a speaker’s perspective in order to translate it accurately into an image or metaphor. This type of deep listening is so incredibly valuable in our day-to-day work because we need to listen deeply to each other in order to harness bright ideas and talent.

5. What’s your take on the intersection of HR and cognitive? How will it help to recruit and engage talent?

Cognitive in HR is essential because it’s about valuing people for their unique talent and identifying where and how they can contribute best to a company’s success, and the success of their own career. I’m lucky because I love my very unique job… but I also believe anyone can have a career that fulfills them. I think cognitive will help people find their passion and grow into a rewarding career, which in turn will help companies attract and retain the brightest talent!

6. How has cognitive impacted the way you approach your art?

Cognitive inspires me to not be afraid of change and to embrace new ways of working. I’m a completely self-taught graphic recorder and animator, so I’m always hunting for new tech and different approaches. I’m completely serious when I say I can’t wait for cognitive to enter the graphic recording world!



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