The Visual Organization Scale

The Visual Organization Scale

by Brandy Agerbeck,

Excerpted from Brandy's article "The Value of Visual Organization" in the 2019 anthology The World of Visual Facilitation

Copyright © 2019 Brandy Agerbeck, All rights reserved. 

Shortly after I fell into graphic facilitation work in 1996, I was asked to teach — especially my strength in synthesizing information. With strong skills, but little language around the work, I could eke out two suggestions, “Create more flow and use more white space.”

Twenty years on, people join me for a three-day immersion I lead, called The Lab. Among the top goals that bring them through my door is wanting to strengthen their listening, organizing and synthesizing skills. My “lab partners,” from all sorts of professional roles, see the value of these skills.

To support this teaching and learning, I’ve created the following model, The Visual Organization Scale (VOS) (below), to give an index and vocabulary around the levels of capturing and organizing we do. As context, you can find the first iteration, The Synthesis Spectrum, in my first book, The Graphic Facilitator’s Guide.

While I absolutely thrive in and unabashedly praise the right half of the model, not all of my work fits there. Circumstances call for movement across the scale. A quick icebreaker activity beginning a meeting may be drawn in quick Popcorn (Level 2), grouping similar answers together. Later, a report out is drawn in Structured Clusters (Level 4). A complex, open discussion invites in into my happy place of levels 5 through 7.

1 | Linear List

Adding treatment of text

1b | Embellished List

Adding spatial organization

2 | Popcorn

Adding icons

2b | Picto-Popcorn

Adding title and containers

3 | Scattergrams

Adding groupings and hierarchy

4 | Structured Clusters

Adding greater scale and structure

5 | Scaled Structure

Adding moments of higher level meaning

5b | Scaled Structure with Elements of Synthesis

Adding whole image composition

6 | Integrated Whole

Adding new, higher level meaning

7 | Synthesis

The goal of this model is to help practitioners recognize at which levels they are working, identify what levels match their client’s needs, and to strengthen their skills to meet them. Also, I offer this as a conversation tool between practitioners, facilitation partners and clients to have richer conversations around visual tools and meaning-making.

End of Excerpt

You can see Brandy's entire article, "The Value of Visual Organization" in the 2019 anthology, The World of Visual Facilitation, editors Jeroen Blijsie, Tim Hamons, and Rachel Smith.

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You can also meet the VOS in Brandy's online courses: 

Visual thinking pioneer Brandy Agerbeck writes, speaks and teaches on the power of drawing as your best thinking tool. She's got plenty of resources for every type, stripe, and experience level of visual thinker at

For a custom speech or learning experience for your team, organization or event, contact Brandy.


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