When we launched the Rockstar Scribe course in May of 2011, we had so many amazing people appear in our lives. Heidi Forbes Öste (@ForbesOste) is definitely one of those people.

A Boston native, Heidi now lives in Sweden with her husband and children, and has a passion for humanizing technology and strategic use of social tools for individuals & organizations both online & face-to-face.

In her practice as a Global Social Strategist and Visual Practitioner, Heidi provides workshops, strategic visual harvesting and consulting to clients worldwide.

Somehow, she is also pursuing a doctorate through Fielding University.

As part of her wider research into the tools and methodologies used by the next generation of global leaders, Heidi has started down the path of researching the value of "visual practice" (visual facilitation, graphic recording, mindmapping, sketch-noting, etc.)

As a piece of her dissertation, Heidi's research on the visual practice, although still in the early stages, focuses on how it supports leadership and global teams using social technologies.

This discussion with Heidi was a fantastic opportunity to ask questions and gain insight into the broader trends at the intersection of social systems, collaborative technology, visual learning, innovation and global leadership.

For more information about Heidi's work, visit The Art of Social Strategy (


00:00 | Introductions

03:00 | Heidi's History with Visual Facilitation 06:55 | Heidi's Research and Dissertation 09:30 | The Lexicon of Visual Practice

10:45 | Graphic Recording vs. Graphic Facilitation 12:00 | Sketchnotes Defined 17:30 | Strategic Visualization 20:50 | Visual Coaching 26:10 | Questions from the Audience

34:00 | Where to Take Survey and View Heidi's Research ( 34:45 | Larger Question Being Explored 35:30 | Leadership and the New Social Paradigm

37:00 | Minimizing & Overcoming Miscommunication in a Global World 50:15 | Connect with Heidi at @forbesoste 54:00 | Special Announcements from Alphachimp

Learn visually. Alphachimp University. Click to see courses.

New Group of Rockstar Scribes Begins May 1.

[button url="" target="_self" style="red" position="center"] REGISTER TODAY [/button]

If you're already a member of Alphachimp University, we invite you to join our Affiliate Program and earn 30% for all referrals.

For more information, visit

Finally, applications for our LIVE workshop INTERSECTION, hosted at our studio in Nashville, TN are due Monday, April 22 (Earth Day). Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity, Apply Here ( before Monday, April 22 ... special discounts apply to all former or current students.

[alert style="white"] Alphachimp Learning Systems LLC works with firestarters, whizkids, restless geniuses & unreasonable (wo)men to explore new media, neuroscience, visual facilitation and get stuff done. @ChimpLearnGood[/alert]

How Communities of Practice Survive (or Not!) Inside Formal Structures


This post was originally a response to John Stepper's thoughtful post on guilds and communities of practice (CoP), titled Leveraging a 1000-year-old idea at work.

My introduction to a CoP begin early in my career as a person with no definable job title. This was the mid-1990's and the term "knowledge worker" was just making its way into the corporate vernacular.

Fortunately, this network I joined had several simple (and visual) models for us to use when self-organizing around projects. That community was deeply influenced by the tradition of architecture as a mentor-apprentice education model; the Montessori school learning environment (in which teachers are "guides"); and Christopher Alexander's "pattern language" philosophical work on why built environment live and die.

Those three elements—models, environments, language—provide a powerful container for a CoP in which there is no top-down hierarchy, especially if the culture is open enough to allow discussion, interpretation, experimentation, and sharing.

The challenge within an organization or corporation is that there is often an allergic reaction to such openness, especially when there might be HR and legal fears of unintended consequences, for example if customers or patients are adversely affected.

This fear, whether warranted or not, is often magnified by the quarterly demands for ROI for any initiative.

The organizations which I have seen successfully incubate a CoP seem to require the sponsorship, patronage and protection of an enlightened, respected leader—another 1000-year-old tradition!

Referring back to the network I joined in the 1990s, it has survived inside and outside formal organizations precisely because the CoP was extra-organizational as well as intra-organizational, meaning that the patterns, models and language have perceived value precisely because they exist beyond any individual patron or corporately mandated structure.


Communities of Practice and Pattern Language by James B. Smethurst | The Journal for Transitional Management | September 24, 1997

Christopher Alexander and A Pattern Language: A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction

photo via Humboldt State University

What patterns have you seen work for a Community of Practice to survive inside a school, university, geographic location, corporation or distributed network? What kills a CoP?

Add your comments below these related posts.