Found in the Maga Design Library

Maga Library's Bookcase

A New Year’s resolution may not be at the forefront of our minds when turkey recipes and gift lists are competing for attention as the holiday season approaches.  However, the final months of 2016 provide the perfect opportunity to stop, reflect, and find ways to improve upon our work.  What better way to do this than picking up a book that we have in our Maga Design Library, which the ever-curious Magateers use as a resource to find new ways of approaching their work and life?  If you’re looking for something to inspire you as 2017 rolls in, take a peek at some of the Magateers’ suggestions and curl up with a good book or give one as a gift

Start with Why by Simon Sinek is a book RJ Clark will pick up at least once a year to help him get to the heart of what inspires his work.  A great read no matter if you’re a design strategist, graphic designer, project manager, or content strategist.

A collection of Dan Roam’s books about how to start thinking visuallyMaga Library to solve problems such as Back of the Napkin, Show and Tell, and Draw to Win are cornerstones for Magateers.  If you haven’t picked one up, 2017 should be the year to.                                                                                                                  

Sabeen Khan recommends Digital Crown: Winning at Content on the Web by Ahava Leibtag to inform impactful content strategy with a marketing eye, plus the author shares plenty of entertaining case studies and faux pas.

Caleb Sexton, Maga’s book guru, just started reading Peter H. Diamond’s Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.  Diamond offers a guide to being one step ahead of the future with exponential technologies, moonshot thinking, and crowd-powered tools.  It’s a book that will definitely help you be a part of the vanguard.

Rachel Friedmann read The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work−she ended up eating more candy because of this book, because candy stimulates more creativity.  Arguably a sweet read.

After attending the 2016 Gartner Symposium and ITxpo this year where Linda Kaplan Thaler was a keynote speaker, Jaime Lennen
decided to start
Grit to Great by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval. The book explains why those who possess grit (Guts, Resilience, Initiative, and Tenacity) outperform those with higher IQ’s, infinite financial resources, or higher ed degrees.  Grit is something that everyone can have, and not only applies to the working world, but also in our personal lives and relationships. So get ready to supercharge your career in 2017 with this book.

If you want a book to impress and imply how smart you are, Adrienne Betenbaugh recommends reading Malcolm Gladwell. In particular Adrienne loves The Tipping Point and Blink. But really any will do.

For the cool creative kids, Jared Adams suggests Design as Art, by Italian futurist Bruno Munari.  It talks about the importance of beautiful design in the world around us, and gives a little bit of a critique as well.  Another legendary designer book is Aaron James Draplin’s Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything.  He chronicles his work and shares funny commentary about all that goes into to creating memorable designs.  A bonus is that Jared’s AIGA chapter is in it.  If you’re looking for a book with great visuals, The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero is a great pick, and you can read it online for free.

For digital techy peeps, Pete Ziff recommends Narrative as Virtual Reality 2 Revisiting Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media by Marie-Laure Ryan–storytelling for virtual reality, that’s new!

Maga LibraryFinally the boss had to add his Wednesday Night Book Club selection.  Scott Williams recommends Decisive by the Heath brothers, a read that will leave you with less agony over making decisions.  Illuminate by Nancy Duarte is also on his current reading list.  It is a guide to not only envisioning world-changing ideas, but also how to get people to change the world with your ideas.  And finally, anything by Seth Godin will serve you well in the New Year.

Whether you pick up a new book or choose to re-read a favorite, any of the books in the Maga Library are tools to explore the ever complex world we work in to help us better execute the visions we have for ourselves and our work at Maga.  

Take Better Notes: A Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Recording

Have you ever seen a visualization like this one?

Example of Graphic Recording
Image credit: See Your Words

Be careful not to confuse this sketch with an infographic, which is designed to distill information in a quick and simple way – much like a blog post.

Graphic recordings, while similar in appearance, actually serve a completely different purpose – one that’s extremely significant for any workplace.

Before we get into that, let’s quickly go over the idea behind graphic recording.

What is graphic recording?

A graphic recording is a visual representation of a meeting or discussion. The artist creates it during the meeting, as people are speaking, on a whiteboard or large flip chart.

The artist captures spoken word and turns it into something visual.

Outcomes vs. Outputs

Graphic recordings are most often used in the corporate environment, such as in large meetings or presentations.

(An infographic, in comparison, distills already captured information into a more digestible, consumer-friendly format.)

Why should you care about graphic recording?

Graphic recording, or graphic facilitation, is a fantastic tool. Once you’ve seen a graphic facilitator in action, you will wonder how you ever accomplished anything without him (or her).

Here are a few benefits of graphic recording:

Increased engagement

Are you tired of people using their cell phones during meetings? Do you use your phone during meetings? Wait… are you reading THIS during a meeting? Tisk tisk.

Everyone knows that smart phones are a huge problem for meetings. Most of us are completely addicted to our phones and, whether or not we are looking at work related material, they definitely distract us from the matter at hand.

See also: 5 Data Visualization Blogs You Will Fall In Love With

According to Atlassian, it takes an average of 16 minutes for us to refocus after handling incoming email. No wonder half of us consider meetings a complete waste of time.

One of the best ways to combat the tyranny of meetings is with graphic recording.

Not only is it incredible to watch, but it’s collaborative. Everyone can throw ideas at the graphic facilitator and see them visualized in a simple, colorful, and powerful way.

Fewer people on their phones. Fewer people taking notes. More people listening. More people communicating. That’s the power of graphic facilitation.

Increased Memory

Have you ever finished a meeting and realized that you were only listening to half of what was said? Maybe you don’t remember anything at all? If you’re the boss, maybe this doesn’t happen often. But there’s a good chance this is happening to your employees.

We all know that pictures stick better than words. There’s actually a name for this, it’s called the Picture Superiority Effect. People are way more likely to remember information when it’s been presented in a visual format.

When they collaborate in the creation of that visualization, such as in a graphic recording, the effect is compounded.


We love to facilitate this sort of collaboration everyday in our office, on site with clients, and at events like DC EXCOMM.

A secret of great musicians is to practice immediately after a lesson. Most wait a bit, thinking that since they just had a lesson, practice can come later. This is a mistake.

Immediately recalling something from you memory is like adding rebar to your brain. (You know, rebar, the metal bars they put in concrete to make it a million times stronger.)

When we recall and analyze things immediately after we learn them, our memory increases exponentially.

Graphic recordings allow us to recall entire meetings immediately without getting bogged down in tedious meeting notes.

Reflection & Shared Outcomes

The average employee attends 62 meetings a month. How do you categorize all of that information? How do you separate and distinguish each meeting?

With graphic recording, you don’t have to. Each meeting will have a beautiful drawing, one that tells the entire story of what was said.

The best part? It’s super shareable (and share worthy).

Let’s say someone couldn’t make the meeting.

Sure, you can send over the meeting notes. But how many people are actually going to read through those? And not to mention, notes are completely hidden from the group and dependent on the notetaker.

A graphic facilitator is much more efficient because they won’t miss anything.

It’s collaborative. Everyone contributes. It tells a complete story.

Plus it’s fun to look at!

Where can you find someone to do it?

It takes a special kind of person to create graphic recordings. These people aren’t just artists – they are storytellers, craftsmen, and facilitators. They often function as consultants, mediators, and advisors.

In short, graphic recording isn’t a task for your assistant who has a knack for drawing. You’ll want to hire a professional.

An Example of Graphic Recording
Image credit: See Your Words

Finding an individual or firm that provides this service isn’t hard. A quick google search for “Graphic Facilitation Your City” will do the trick. One trait to look for in a graphic facilitator is industry experience.

If they speak the lingo, is will help to keep everyone on the same page. Some companies have gone as far as to hire or train internal graphic facilitators, a practice we definitely recommend.

What is a Wiki?

An aggregation of the world’s knowledge. To generations past, that was a futuristic ideal, incoceivable outside the attempts of Britannica and the World Book encyclopedias. Yet to kids growing up today and those of us that work in an online realm, these tools are a reality. The most common example, the one that shows up on the front page of results for nearly any Google search imaginable, is Wikipedia.

Continue reading What is a Wiki?

Mapping a Brilliant Brain

Maps can show a route around a city, the specifics of a region’s geography, or the thought process behind an idea. Alternatively, maps outline processes and paths within our bodies, like those in a new exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Md. Comprised of photographs and thin slivers of human brain tissue, they illustrate the biology behind one of the most brilliant minds in history: Albert Einstein’s.

Continue reading Mapping a Brilliant Brain