Ask The Right Question(s)

Summertime seems to always be a busy one for recording, Strategy Ideation sessions and conferences to attend. My time is always busy with clients and outside activities that I must be selective with which events to attend. I choose to attend events which bolster more of the creative development on idea generation and or strategy in lieu of general tactical or “How-to-Do” conferences. Many tactical or skills based events eventually are highlighted through social media, so one must pick their best use of time and funds.

It was one of these selective events that reignited some old concepts that we allow to get buried as we continuously update our knowledge base. At the event, like most, there were many speakers, workshops and keynote presenters, but all took a back seat to one individual that sparked my fascination and enforced why I do what I do.

Sitting in the back of one of the concurrent sessions was a small boy coloring with some markers. I don’t know why I was fascinated by what he was doing, maybe it was the fact that during all the information and the banter between presenter and audience I was intrigued that he ignored everyone and just focused on what he was interested in.

As the session wound down, I looked over the boy’s shoulder to see what was so captivating. It was nothing but a coloring book that he had colored with some artistic expression. He then looked up at me and smiled. It was the next few words that he spoke that brought my mind to a laser focus.

With an innocent smile he spoke, “Why are you here?” he asked. His question echoed in my head.

Why was I here I thought. I smiled back and replied, “Because I want to learn more and improve myself.”

“Why?” he replied.

“So I can be better at my job.”

“Why?” he repeated.

Playing along with this popular children’s line of questioning I replied, “To help people.”

Once more he uttered the question, “Why?”

By now most adults would simply smile and move along politely, but this simple line of questioning was making me reflect on my purpose, why I choose to do the things I do and to learn what I choose to learn. His innocent question was not so innocent for me. Did he really want to know? probably not, but it made me want to understand myself better. I finally replied, “because people sometimes need help getting what they want.”

“What do they want?” he asked.

Interested in how he would respond, I fired back a single answer. “Change.”

I expected the response of the repeating question, what I didn’t anticipate was the added response. “Why do they need change? Don’t they have enough?”

I realize he may have misunderstood my term, but somehow his reply was right on the money. “Why do they need change?” This simple question touches at the very core for a company’s growth strategy. In addition, asking about how much change do they need is as important as well.  If a child can ask these types of questions then why don’t more executives ask them of themselves. I realize that it is part of why I am asked to help them, but it should also be part of how they help themselves.

If you wish to understand change and gather new ideas, starting using simple questions like ‘why’ repeatedly as your bait to uncover the core reasons. “Why not!”

Fishing 4 Ideas

 

Posted in Business Conceptualization, Conversation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Making Intangible Ideas Tangible

There is an epidemic facing our business world. The symptoms may go undetected and has spread like wildfire in a drought. This type of epidemic can be so destructive that it actually destroys businesses from at the very core and no one sees it coming, especially when its company-wide.

This condition spreads through daily activities, mutual conversation and even electronically communications undetected. There is no way to spot once its too late to protect yourself or others.

No, I am not talking about a air-borne disease or some contagious virus. No, I’m talking about the loss of information and key ideas created and then lost forever. I am talking about the inability of groups to capture and share ideas and goals effectively. There is a method of inoculation and eventual cure to this epidemic…

Graphic recording.

Okay, so it sounds like a commercial right. True, but in reality, it is a statement of support. When an organization creates ideas from interaction of co-workers, capturing these ideas so that they are documented as well as shared aids in the propagation of these ideas. One of the most powerful tools is graphic recording, capturing ideas in both written and graphical documentation so that the information can be reflected upon and shared.

Different descriptions and scale of graphic recording

Different descriptions and scale of graphic recording

Graphic recording does not always have to be done larger than life on huge sheets of paper on the walls, no, you can scale down to sketchbooks or even small notebooks. Whatever the size you choose to use, make sure you share. When you share ideas captured, you inoculate against the epidemic of forgetfulness, the killer of great ideas.

So to all those who meet, share, present, communicate, doodle on napkins, capture these ideas and document them to share. You never know who may see them and build on the idea to make them real.

Always remember, make intangible ideas tangible so others may SEE!

Posted in Business Conceptualization, Collaborations, Conversation, Mind-Mapping, Sketchnotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring has Sprung

Hello friends,

I regret that I have not added much to the blog recently. Ever since the first part of Spring, I have worked at a heavy pace because Spring always brings a rush of work and slowing my postings. Don’t worry, I do have a few in the works, so keep tuned in and stay thINKing in Ink.

Posted in Business Conceptualization | Leave a comment

Bridging The Gap: Purpose + Process

Gap 01

I have written about the gap before and illustrated it in many graphicnotes, sketchnote as well as in client ideation sessions as a Graphic Recorder. It is an image that has a recurring theme with me and with many others in business, education and in life general. The gap is about change and the challenges of change

Why is the image of a gap important? Because it easily represents an approaching challenge of shifting from one state or place to the next. Before I get too deep in this post, let’s step back a bit a look at the source of this recurring image. Why this image and where does it come from?

First lesson; in mathematics the Delta symbol (Δ), represents a change of state between two before and after state schemas; a variation in state. The origins of the delta go as far back as the Ancient Greeks.

Gap 02Today I graphically depict this delta as an inverted triangle. It has become the two sides of a chasm or gap. On one side is the current condition of state and on the other side of the inverted triangle is the targeted changed state. What lies between is the chasm which represents the challenge to overcome.

Another thing I like to add to the image when it is about change is an increase in elevation on the “B” side of the chasm. There is very important element to the message with the visual and the idea I am trying to convey. The first impression of course, is that of the great challenge crossing the gap. The second note with the change in elevation is the idea of improvement over the existing state. I do not shift elevations all the time. In anything that may deal with a partnership I usually keep both sides at the same height since the idea is usually about connections and not intentional change or improvement.

The desire to cross over is not the only task, there is also the purpose behind making the change. For me, anytime such an effort is exerted there must to be intent for improvement, an increase in knowledge or the enhancement of self or business. There needs to be gain of some kind or the action is wasted and becomes nothing but a performance in frustration.

Take the example of a company that make changes, adds new products or alters direction due to pressure from the outside, but they are not really improving the core business. When a company is not improving or enhancing the current state, then it is nothing more than an expensive activity that yields no gain. In many cases, the outcome is unchanged, thus money and time are wasted, and eventually I see them falling off into the chasm.

The inverted delta as the gap and the elevation as the evolution are partly what this image is about. The greater piece is the method of crossing. How we change and the tools we use to make that change are just as important as what we want to change or become after achieving that change. What method is the best to bridge this gap from point A to point B?

Here are some of my favorite depictions of crossing the gap that have appeared in various client thINKing Canvases or in Graphicnotes as well as sketchnotes from meetings.

Many bridges c

These are a few examples of the metaphors of the methods people describe their plan to get from one side to the other. Did you identify one that you feel is your method? If so, what does it mean to you?

Some methods of getting across rely on mechanical bridging techniques while others are very creative or whimsical that could be both affective and an experience worthy of the crossing.

One in particular that always makes me laugh is that of the human cannon. Imagine this method of crossing the gap by being stuffed down a barrel of an oversized cannon. Dressed up all in a colorful fancy suit and wearing a helmet for some slight protection. Then, as you’re waiting in anticipation in the dark for that moment, there comes an explosive noise, your body surges forward into the day light and you find yourself hurdling through the sky like a ballistic. Everything around you is a blur passing by so quickly that you can’t even recognize what your passing by. Then reality hits or soon will, because the other side has no catch net. Guarantee, you will make it across, but at what cost?

The truth is that the crossing of the gap is about processes. Which method you feel you are using or works for you? The conversation leads to which methods is actually better for you? Worse yet, maybe, you turn back and don’t cross as one group discussed. I guess it all depends on the gap you need to cross and the level of the improvement you seek.

For me, it’s about narrower gaps with greater heights and having those already on the other side help me build bridges across so others can follow.

Until next time. use the image below and draw out how you would cross and what that really means.

Gap 03

Customized Gap Maps are available.

Posted in Analogies, Conversation, Journey Maps | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ATD – STL Chapter Annual Meeting 2014

The local ATD (Association of Talent Development) held its annual conference in O’Fallon, IL in October of 2014. Here are some of the Graphicnotes taken as visual journalism.

ATD St. Louis Chapter.

image

Posted in Sketchnotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

thinkAbout 2014

Are you one that believes that by creating an experience you provide greater value to customers, members or any type of visitor? You’re not alone. Each year somewhere across America a band of like-minded experiential thinkers gather with Joseph Pine and James Gilmore to put into practice the ideas and techniques shared in their book “The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage.”

Here are some of my Graphicnotes from the event held in Cincinnati in 2014. The group explored Persona development. I’m not speaking about Stereotyping, but raw persona development.

thinkabout 14_01 2k

thinkabout 14_02 2k

thinkabout 14_03 2k

thinkabout 14_04 2k

Wow! What an incredible time with some of the best experiential thinkers you’ll ever meet. In 2015, the group heads to Atlanta to take on new experiences and apply more of the principles to enrich their thinking and their offerings.

If you’re interested about attending a thinkAbout, click on over to the official site: Strategic Horizons and read more about the events. The event is not open to the public, but I have a few alumni contacts that would be willing to share their membership with you.

See more Graphicnotes from thinkAbout 2013

Posted in Business Conceptualization, Innovation, Sketchnotes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment