Frequently Asked Questions

The Grove offers consulting and design services, workshops, and do-it-yourself tools. Our large-format graphics are at the heart of our facilitation and consulting services. We create panoramic visual environments that are productive, creative and highly memorable. In addition, The Grove's products for group-process design and facilitation are unusually adaptable and the most comprehensive in the industry.

We believe that models—frameworks that guide the design and implementation of any level of group process—work like lenses and mental “keyboards”. They help people to see things from different angles and invite new ways of looking at things.

A project with The Grove can range from a half-day design session to an organization-change process that entails multiple meetings over several months or longer. We work with many of our clients on a variety of different issues year after year.

The Grove used to be called Graphic Guides, Inc. and shared offices with CoVision, now a leading groupware consultancy. Informally, we called the combined group “The Grove.” With an increased emphasis on consulting in the 1990s, we sought a new name, and everyone loved “The Grove” as an apt metaphor for the way in which we collaborate with like-minded organizations in a business “ecology.” We added “International” to recognize the global reach of our work.

No, it isn't. When the Presidio Army Base was first turned over to the National Park Service in the early 1980s, The Grove facilitated the visioning process. As part of this transition, The Tides Foundation created the Thoreau Center for Sustainability at the old Letterman Hospital for some forty environmentally-oriented organizations. During its later expansion, Tides recruited The Grove as a tenant, knowing that our work would be compatible with this community.

“We love your people”,“we love your processes,” and “we love your tools.”

Please call us at 1.415.561.2500, or e-mail us at We will be happy to discuss your needs and make recommendations based on your specific challenges and situation.

Graphic facilitation integrates facilitation, interactive graphic recording, and graphic templates to lead groups toward agreed-upon goals.

Graphic recording documents a group's conversation and key ideas in real time on flip charts, large poster paper, graphic templates, murals, tablet PCs, and other visual media. This is also known as “scribing.”

In the 1970s, Grove founder and president David Sibbet, Geoff Ball, Fred Lakoff, Michael Doyle, and Jennifer Hammond Landau began experimenting with the application of the visual techniques used by architects and designers. Originally branded “Group Graphics®” by The Grove, the general name for this highly visual method of leading groups gradually evolved into the term “graphic facilitation.” This work is also called "visual facilitation."

Take digital photos of the charts and create a graphic meeting report. (Grove designers can help you with this, if you like). If you need to use the charts again, roll them up, tape and label them, and store them for use in your next meeting. Recycle any materials you won't need to refer to again. You can also covert the information into a digital format using our Digital Graphic Guides®. This is particularly useful if your charts are difficult to read at a reduced size.

A meeting report helps participants to remember the event, to tell others the story, and to do follow-up work. An 11-by-17-inch reproduction of a wall chart looks virtually identical to the original, increasing retention dramatically. Add pictures of people and annotations next to the original charts, and you have a robust capture of information.

Focus on your organization's needs and how you can address them. Some standard needs are for group engagement, big-picture thinking and innovation, and productive implementation. The Grove's products and services deliver on all three. If you can, tell a story about a situation where you saw these methods work. The Grove website has many examples of our work with clients; see Case Studies.

No. A graphic recorder helps people to remember complicated information. If presenters are using presentation software, the graphic recorder usually stands off to one side. In planning discussions, the charts are the focus, not the graphic facilitator.

No; much more is involved in this work. Graphic facilitation combines facilitation and interactive graphic recording skills. It requires significantly-above-average competency in listening, knowing how graphic work affects other activities, and knowing how to design both the process and the physical environment so that panoramic visualization is effective. The Grove offers public and customized workshops to teach these skills.

To learn graphic recording and facilitation, take a Grove Principles of Graphic Facilitation workshop, then practice in low-risk settings such as committee meetings or community events. Practice makes better... try scribing a television presentation, a YouTube talk, a classroom session, whatever opportunities come to you. The Grove Store also has lots of resources to draw upon. To run more effective meetings and processes, you can start by incorporating Graphic Guide® templates into your work.

Yes; this is called digital graphic recording. It is done using a tablet. The graphics appear on the screen in real time, reflecting key ideas being shared and serving as a facilitative focal point for the group. Most web-conferencing software also includes whiteboards that allow for simple interactive recording.

A meeting that incorporates digital graphic recording is much more engaging and interesting for participants. It is an especially helpful best practice for large, significant meetings for which participants are not co-located.

Often teams can be so involved in “the work” that they don't understand the root causes of obstacles they continually run into or know how to find solutions. The Team Performance Model opens up teams to all the critical components of teamwork that support accomplishing “the work.” Teams tend to focus on execution and getting results. The Model gives team members the big picture and a set of success factors to overcome the predictable challenges that teams face. It provides a common and productive language, which is especially important when things go wrong. Having non-blaming language and a shared framework helps the team come together to work through its difficulties.

We recommend our Team Performance Workshop. You will learn essential practices and visual tools that will prepare you to create and sustain high-performing teams.

Strategic Visioning combines the best of strategic planning and visioning, employing The Grove's Graphic Guides® to lead users visually through the planning process. Each planning process is customized to each client's unique circumstances, but usually involves facilitating a group by assessing its past, understanding its current situation, imagining a desirable future state and planning to reach that end.

At the beginning of a planning process, participants should include key leaders seeking results from the process and operational leaders and mid-level managers who will be involved in implementing visions and goals. Outside experts with macro-economic or other industry information can also be useful. Eventually, others in an organization will need to be included in the process as is appropriate.

Ultimately the success of strategic visioning and other visual-planning processes relies on the commitments of the participants. That is why it is so important to involve people in the design of the process, as well as to make specific agreements about goals and action steps. Visual meeting reports make a world of difference for successful follow-through

A Storymap® is a panoramic visual history, context map, strategy map, vision, or roadmap created to help leaders and managers tell consistent, compelling stories that sustain aligned action.

Grove Storymaps® are more than just visual artifacts. The value of our Storymaps is as much in the collaborative development process of the maps as in the maps themselves. Everyone who is involved in developing a Storymap gains a sense of ownership, which is invaluable to realizing any vision

A digital graphic movie (also known as "graphic recording movie") features rapid hand drawings in video format. These are in growing use as a way to communicate key messages and draw attention to new visions, plans, and concepts.

Graphic Guides® are pre-formatted graphic templates, printed on charts of various sizes for recording group communications in real time. Graphic Guide templates provide simple, flexible visual workspaces for planning. Their clear headings support easy scanning of a day's worth of work when posted around a room. Their field-tested categories guide inexperienced facilitators through important topics. Afterwards, they make it easy to create a shared visual synopsis of the meeting that aids follow-through.

If you're new to graphic facilitation, we suggest you start by using templates that are the easiest to facilitate, such as Meeting Startup, Graphic History, and Cover Story Vision.

Being able to visualize major steps in the planning process builds focus, alignment, and capacity for follow-through. Visual thinking is the key to whole-systems thinking; there is much strategic value in seeing patterns within the information. Visuals (especially fun, engaging visuals) make the planning process more memorable and give the outcomes more "sticking power".

Make sure you develop an action plan as well as a vision. We have developed several Graphic Guides expressly for that purpose:

Use Five Bold Steps to help determine key initiatives.

  • Use the Graphic Gameplan to identify objectives and a high-level set of tasks to reach them.
  • Use the Graphic Roadmap to depict commitments and milestones on a detailed timeline.

In meetings, Graphic Guides support panoramic visualization, which is the most effective way to present the big picture in order to think and plan strategically. Developed in conjunction with The Grove's Strategic Visioning Process, our Graphic Guides are now the key elements in our Visual Planning Systems.

These are Microsoft® PowerPoint® versions of the Graphic Guides that enable you to type in the information from your meeting charts and create digital documents that you can then share with your organization by e-mail. They are useful as templates for virtual meetings. They also serve as presentations of research and as a way to capture ideas and plans.

Yes, you can e-mail filled-in Digital Graphic Guides or post them to a company's internal web page. (Note that if multiple people will be using the slides by typing into or editing them, each user will need his or her own license.) We would be happy to discuss a multi-user license; please email or call +1.415.561.2500.

Yes, you can print the slides in sizes up to 11" x 17."

The Digital Graphic Guides were not designed to be printed larger than 11" x 17."

We have several options for you to obtain wall-size prints:

  1. Purchase our wall-size Graphic Guides® from our website,, or by calling us at +1.415.561.2500.
  2. Send us your filled-in Digital Graphic Guide and we can convert it into a format that will yield a high-resolution print.
    Please contact for pricing and turn-around information.
  3. Sign up for a licensing agreement with us for printing our wall-size Graphic Guides. Contact for more information.

The best place to start is with The Grove's Facilitation Guide Series, written by Grove founder and president David Sibbet.

Principles of Facilitation (book): Includes forty basic principles, organized around the four flows of activity that a facilitator needs to manage in any group process.

Graphic Facilitation: Transforming Group Process with the Power of Visual Listening (book with CD-ROM): The definitive guide to this methodology.

Best Practices for Facilitation (book): A collection of 175 activities that a facilitator can suggest to a group to help achieve its goal together.

Here are several Grove tools we recommend for beginning graphic facilitators:

Strategic Visioning Agenda Planning Kit: Comprised of four key tools: Agenda Cards, Best Practice Cards, an Instruction booklet, and a detailed Strategic Visioning Process Outline. The Strategic Visioning Agenda Planning Kit makes it easy for leaders to plan effective one-day and two-day meetings or a series of virtual meetings.

Fundamentals of Graphic Language Practice (book): Moves step-by-step from basic strokes and lettering to improvisations.

Pocket Pics (book): Contains more than one hundred icons for some of the more difficult-to-draw concepts.

Graphics—Just in Time (video or DVD kit): Teaches you the basics of flipchart graphics, lettering and simple icons.

Graphic Improvisations (video or DVD kit): Teaches you how to combine simple shapes to create a lexicon of graphic images and icons.

Charters® Markers and paper: For practicing your newly learned techniques.

The nib and the ink. Sturdier-than-usual chisel tips allow for variable line thicknesses and retain their shape. The inks are vibrant, nonpermanent and odor-free. We have also increased the ink-carrying capacity so that our markers last longer. A triangular base keeps them from rolling off tables.

Our large sticky notes work well for brainstorming sessions and for getting a group engaged. On these oversized Post-its®, words and drawings are more visible from a distance, as well as being more readable in follow-up meeting documentation.

The 50-yard roll of paper is more economical but heavier than the 25-yard roll of paper. The 25-yard roll is easiest to manage. It will support a full day of recording and approximately nine 8-foot displays.

Advanced Visual Facilitation is a three-day workshop for experienced visual practitioners seeking to deepen their facilitation skills and their command of graphic frameworks. Prerequisite: the Principles of Graphic Facilitation workshop or a similar graphic facilitation skill-building workshop, and experience applying visual skills in meetings.

Designing and Leading Change, a three-day intensive, builds capacity to design and lead organization and social change processes, within and across organizations as well as across sectors. Prerequisite: some training and experience with change process consulting.

Facilitating Virtual Collaboration is a seminar-style online workshop that will prepare you to facilitate successful collaborative work at a distance. Teams and workgroups are increasingly asked to work with colleagues located around the world. This workshop will prepare you with practices that support effective creative and collaborative work when participants are not all in the same room together.

Principles of Graphic Facilitation is a three-day immersion in graphic recording and graphic facilitation skills. It is ideal for consultants, team and project leaders, managers, facilitators, and trainers experienced in facilitation who want to use visual displays to engage team members and meeting participants, capture ideas, focus their group's work, and improve implementation. Prerequisite: background of some sort in facilitation, and/or some type of facilitation-related training.

Strategic Visioning is a two-and-a-half day workshop for organizational strategists, process managers, facilitators, and other team and project leaders who want to learn how to use visuals to focus direction for groups. This provides a skill development workout in using the "big seven" Graphic Guides: Meeting Start-up, Graphic History, Context Map, SPOT Matrix, Cover Story Vision, Five Bold Steps, and Graphic Gameplan. It is ideal for those who seek to incorporate large-scale facilitative visuals in their work without having to work from a blank sheet.

Team Performance is a three-day, hands-on immersion in the essential practices and visual tools to create and sustain high-performing teams. Learn how to use the Drexler/Sibbet Team Performance&trade Model, the Team Performance Survey, and associated best practices to help your teams work more effectively and enjoyably together. This workshop is useful for team leaders, managers, HR specialists, and consultants who work with teams. It is a certification workshop.

Certainly. We believe that the best way to develop Grove skills within your organization or team is to have an internal group that is learning together and sharing best practices. The advantage of running a workshop within your organization is that participants can tackle real challenges while learning Grove skills.

No. Registration happens by phone or email. To register, email or call 1.415.561.6145.

  1. If your schedule changes 31 or more days before the workshop and you prefer an alternate date, we would be happy to transfer your registration to another workshop for $100. Please note that this transfer is a one-time-only option.
  2. At any time you may transfer your registration to a colleague or friend for the same workshop on the same date at no cost as long as we are notified of the change.
  1. Cancellations 31 days or more prior to the workshop start date = 90% refund
  2. Cancellations 30 days or less before the workshop start date = no refund

NOTE: In the event you do need to cancel and have paid the deposit, the 10% amount to hold your seat is non-refundable.

You may transfer your registration to a colleague or friend at any time for no charge, as long as they attend the same workshop for which you were registered.

The Grove is committed to sharing our ideas, processes and tools in order to foster collaboration. Anyone can use the ideas in the ways described below. Digital and print versions of our models, templates and other tools are the intellectual property of The Grove, and cannot be reproduced beyond one use by an individual without written permission or an explicit licensing agreement. We expect anyone who uses our tools and concepts to acknowledge their source and to purchase any materials that display a Grove copyright from us or from one of our partners.

We permit reproduction of our Graphic Guides and models in the following situations:

  • Reproduction under the provisions of a licensing agreement with The Grove.
  • Reproduction of Graphic Guides purchased from or licensed by The Grove that have been filled in with relevant information you wish to share with others. However, such reproductions may not be offered for sale.
  • Tracing or drawing Grove templates on a trial basis for the purpose of experimenting with using them or practicing your recording skills. However, you may not draw or otherwise reproduce the templates for actual work with groups without an explicit agreement from The Grove.

Any other reproduction of our copyrighted material without express written permission from us is a violation of our copyright.

If you wish to use our copyrighted material for uses other than those described above, we would be happy to assist you with a purchase or discuss an appropriate licensing arrangement. Please contact us at 1.800.49.GROVE or (415) 561-2500 between 9 A.M. and 5 P.M. PST, Monday through Friday, or e-mail

The Grove's product-fulfillment business is located in Novato, California, just north of San Francisco. The Grove and Grove Tools Inc. are two distinct business entities working in close coordination. Grove Tools Inc. focuses on product fulfillment and licensing. The Grove Consultants International continues to reside at the Presidio offices in San Francisco with a focus on consulting, design services, and workshops.

Email Grove Tools at, or call 1.415.561.2500, ext. 1 to reach Thom Sibbet or Andrew Underwood at Grove Tools.


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