Design to Connect: DC EXCOMM 2015 Recap and Review


Last Thursday, we hosted the first annual DC EXCOMM: Design to Connect Executive Communications and Visualization Conference.

Congregating in a room with beautiful views of Georgetown and the National Mall from across the river in Arlington, our guests were treated to two phenomenal keynote speeches from bestselling author Dan Roam and renowned communications expert Vincent Covello.

Dan Roam DC EXCOMM Presentation

Within minutes Dan Roam had our crowd drawing stick figures, and showing them the powerful impact that simple communications can have on their thinking and communications through materials from his book Back of the Napkin.

He shared stories of some of the most important doodles in history, from the development of Southwest Airlines business model to the conception of trickle down economics.

Scott Williams and Dan Roam

After the group had caught their collective breaths (and snagged a quick bite to eat) Vince Covello launched in to the second keynote speech.

He introduced the rules and techniques of high-concern communications, and walked the participants through a variety of case studies including his first hand experience working with the World Health Organization during the Ebola crisis.

DC EXCOMM Graphic Recording

As impressive as the keynote speakers were, our guests in attendance matched them. They were all decision makers and executives from across different industries, inside and outside the federal government and military fields.

DCEXCOMM Attendees

We saw just how quickly they picked up the tricks of the trade during our interactive workshops. In short order they visually developed solutions to deal with hypothetical cyber attacks, figured out ways to lower the cost of space exploration, and even explored the structural societal pressures that led to the rise of the “free range” parenting style.

“Who here thinks they are good at drawing?” Dan asked early in the day. At that point, only a couple of people raised their hands in the affirmative (and that may have included one of our designers).

Yet despite the modesty on their artistic ability, all of our participants were eager to learn.

DC EXCOMM Challenge

Throughout the day, the pens and markers were flying across the page as doodles, drawings, and message maps took for.

Were they all beautiful? Of course not, and that was never the point. Too often, design, communications, and visualization are seen as tasks handled by only a select few. Instead, as DC EXCOMM showed, these tools can be used to help any person confront any challenge.

To all who attended, thanks for being a part of a great day. To all who couldn’t make it, we hope to see you next year!