Drawing in Support of Maternity Leave

Often, the best way for a group to get a complete picture is to make one.

When I was director of campus space planning my right hand was young woman with a gift for detail and digital systems. She was one of those who is so quietly productive that they are not appreciated until they're no longer there. We were facing just this situation as her maternity leave approached.

To learn how to fill in behind her, our student workers and I came together with her to talk through it all. Rather than make the usual bulletted lists and steps of best practices, we decided to make a drawing. The resulting poster, 4 feet tall and 8 feet long,  was mostly completed in that sitting, but we left it in the work room for a couple weeks so we could add to it as things were remembered. The version here also had some tweaks done digitally.

The drawing did the job intended, but it did more. We could see the complexity of what we were managing in a new way. It gave those outside our office a quick understanding of the volume of details and challenges that we managed on a daily basis. For our mother-to-be it became a source of pride, hanging in her office for years afterward.

You could do this, too. It's not important that you "know how to draw," only that you and others can put ideas and images side by side. Once you get a ways along, your composition somehow tells you how to continue to a conclusion.