Visual Thinking Strategies

Visual Thinking Strategies, or VTS, is a cross-disciplinary technique applicable to anyone working in a collaborative setting where observation is key. The method centers around a facilitated group discussion of works of art, and is backed by over 30 years of field research showing its effectiveness and accessibility. By allowing individuals to talk about art - without needing a background in the field - VTS advances skills you can use to create more relevant products and stronger teams: Observing, Brainstorming, Speculating, Reasoning with Evidence, Cultivating a Point of View, and Revision & Elaboration. Because there are no right answers , VTS creates a safe space, one that encourages participation from all viewers. Empathy, Communication and Collaboration skills are enhanced along with Comfort with Ambiguity, Openness to the Unfamiliar, Civil Debate, and Willingness to Participate in Group Thinking.

Offerings

Guided Team Session

On-site or remote, Alex West will guide your teams through a VTS session and share the background of the practice. This is a perfect solution for team building events or agile retrospectives.

Facilitating VTS Workshop

Learn how to facilitate your own VTS sessions. This 1-day workshop covers the method, facilitation skills, image selection, and the finer points of making VTS work.

Articles & Resources

Read more about VTS’ origins in education and access research articles here.

Exploring how Visual Thinking Strategies (and talking about art) builds team-level skills.

Unpacking the findings of recent studies to find what skills set high-performing teams apart.

How Harvard Medical School uses VTS.

Mark Blevis, a media producer, discusses using VTS in his practice.

Schedule a Session

Meet the Expert

Alex is the co-founder of Nerd/Noir and focuses on issues surrounding Collaboration, Culture and Teams. See her professional bio here.

“When I participated in Alex West’s Visual Thinking Strategies workshop...I experienced a huge aha moment. Here, finally, is a way we can practice telling stories together, practice thinking critically, and possibly expose and work around our unconscious biases.”
Lisa Crispin
Author & Tester @ Pivotal
“I noticed that this method helps shy people talk about their point of view and their ideas...I think it can be widely used during our retrospectives or other events to make the working atmosphere more friendly, increase the level of creativity in teams, and get people to say what they are thinking.”
Roma Mukhin
Developer @ Ruby Garage