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069: Unflattening: An Attitude that will Expand Our Thinking with Nick Sousanis

Unflattening: An attitude that will expand our thinking with Nick Sousanis

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workshops work is a podcast for facilitators, by a facilitator, about facilitation… so why have I invited Assistant Professor of Humanities and Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University and comic book artist Nick Sousanis to join me in this episode?

I read Nick’s remarkable work ‘Unflattening’ recently and immediately knew that the world of facilitation needed to know about it. I was delighted when he accepted my invitation!

What followed was a beautiful exchange of ideas and reflections from two distant fields, worlds that do not normally collide but have more in common than you might first think.

This is a very special episode of workshops work – and one that I think could change our practice in a deep and powerful way.

Listen to the episode to find out:

  • Why trying to think outside of the boxes we are in isn’t necessarily a good idea
  • The most important question Nick believes we need to answer in this moment in time
  • Why unflattening is a journey, not a destination
  • Why images aren’t simply aesthetic, but communicative in novel and detailed ways
  • How creative constraints and limits help us learn, grow, and unflatten

Although I highly recommend keeping a pen and paper at hand to take notes, you can also just download mine!

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Questions and Answers 


[01:44] Is it correct that Unflattening was your dissertation?

[02:33] What prompted you to draw your dissertation?

[05:25] Where was the idea of Unflattening born?

[08:58] How does Unflattening relate to ‘thinking outside the box’?

[12:47] Did you create Unflattening to intentionally remove as many of these ‘boxes’ as possible?

[17:47] What is the magic ingredient for hearing each other’s arguments?

[22:27] Is Unflattening a journey, a philosophy, a destination?

[27:51] How can we practice Unflattening when it comes to emotive topics?

[31:50] What can pictures teach us that words cannot?

[36:21] How do you encourage people to follow the path of your writing without being too explicitly directional?

[45:05] – What makes a workshop – or a class – fail?

[01:02:13] – What is the one thing you would like listeners to take away from this episode?




Connect with Nick


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