The Ants and The Apple

Ants and the Apple

This story was shared to me a long time ago so I may have changed it slightly, but I think you will get the idea.

One sunny afternoon two ants from different colonies met beneath a grand old apple tree. In customary fashion, the two ants exchanged greetings and signals about where they were from. The first ant came from the West near the old barn; the other from the East, just passed the well.

 After formal greetings the ant from the West asked the other ant what he maybe scouting for. The East ant tilted his head up towards a fresh shiny apple was up in the tree. “I’m here to get that apple.”

 With a polite nod, the East ant scurried up the tree. The ant quickly moved up and down, back and forth across each limb in search of the path that would lead him to the apple.

From the ground, the ant from the West watched with great intensity and curiosity as the other ant’s search continued. Strange, he thought, why was the ant from the East working so hard to find the apple?

Eventually the ant from the East returned back to the ground below only to discover the ant from the West carrying the prize apple away.

 “Stop” he signaled. “How did you get the apple before me? I tracked each limb and backtracked every possible path to the apple, yet here you are with the apple. How?”

 The ant from the West set down the apple and climbed on top and spoke. “You see, it’s quite simple ant from the East. As you raced up and down, back and forth across every possible limb trying to find the right path to the apple, I simply began at the apple and followed the path back down to the ground before climbing the tree to get the apple. You see, I saw the end and worked my way back to the start. This way there was only one route needed to take.

With that, the ant step down off the apple, picked it back up and headed back to the old barn and to his colony while the other ant remained looking up at the grand old apple tree with amazement and without an apple.

Like any venture, it is better to understand the outcome than it is to rush into it and needing to try various options until you discover the solution or before someone else does. Strategic planning combined with visual thinking and graphic facilitation are powerful tools in clarifying goals, directions and tactics needed to achieve those goals before venturing forward.

So, before you race up that tree searching for the apple, stop and map out your journey first and save time and energy.

Thanks for reading and journey ahead like the ant from the West.

Posted in Analogies, Business Conceptualization, Graphic Recording, Journey Maps | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pigtails and Rabbit Ears

Ponytails and Rabbit Ears

No, this is not a story of a little girl and her pet rabbit.

In fact, this is about how employees and customers react to a company’s environment.

Allow me to explain.

During a past ideation session with a client group, I was graphically co-facilitating on a large white board some of their responses about their customers in their centers. During part of the team activities I over heard one of them say, “We hear such great things about our staff and the environment from our customers.” In response, I added some exclamation marks above the heads of the customers I had drawn interacting with the staff to emphasis the positive response. During one of the breaks, a few of the participants had gathered in front of the visual recording and were making humorous comments about the pigtails and rabbit ears I had put on people.

“Pigtails and rabbit ears?” I asked. They pointed out that the exclamation marks I had drawn over the heads and how it had made them look like they had pigtails and rabbit ears. Sure enough to my amusement I had. Unknowingly to me when, In order to add relevance to the comment, I had made some of the people cute girls with pigtails and others, people with rabbit ears.

After that, when that group discussed the experience being staged for employees or customers they would challenge the rest of the group by asking if it would give the employees and customers pigtails and rabbit ears. To my surprise, a humorous visual edit quickly became shorthand for measuring a positive experience.

Since then, I ask myself during client ideations about headquarters or customer spaces if they are actually creating enough of a positive experience within their environments that the reactions from those engaging in the experiences would generate pigtails and rabbit ears on drawn people? One of our goals for our clients is to help develop experiences that would exceed expectations and create positive memories, experiences that employees and customers would share with others.

I challenge you take a look at your employee and customer environments and interactions. Are they dynamic enough to put pigtails and rabbit ears on your people? If not, how could you change the environment and the interaction to do so? Maybe we can help?

Until next time, keep thINKing in Ink and stay ahead of the problem.

KMD

rabbit me

Posted in Business Conceptualization | Leave a comment

“Thinging” is the New Thing

Thinging

When it comes to experiences, it’s not about the thing as it is more about what you do with the thing. An experience is in the action or “Ing” of a thing. A ball is a thing, yet ball balancing is doing. Any time you do something, you are in essence, experiencing. For a business, staging the action of a thing can be of greater value than merely the selling of the thing.

This trend, which the American Lifestyle Report identified and the Washington Post reported, indicates that consumers are shifting from the acquisition of things to seeking more experiences. People are doing more than buying more. Consumers are moving from the tangible goods to intangible experiences. With this shift comes greater value to the staging of experiences.

So, before you create your customer experience, stop and consider what you want your customer to do. What are you “Thinging” for your customers to experience and how are you driving value from this experience?

The New Economic Value Equation is this “Ing > Thing”

KMD

Posted in Business Conceptualization | Leave a comment

Reshaping Healthcare

Berry Tree

My grandmother was a simple woman and always had a unique way of viewing and explaining the world to me. Her simple upbringing always seemed to add clarity to her storytelling lessons which always helped me to better understand life, people and how things work.

The reason I bring this up is because while chatting with someone in Healthcare about the challenges of changing how people think about what healthcare should or could be, I was reminded of one of her stories about being something you’re not or trying to be different from your nature.

“Take the berry tree. ” She would whisper as if a great secret was being shared. “Its nature is to be a berry tree. No matter how you trim, cut or tie down its limbs to look like a berry bush, its nature is to be a tree. Its trunk will grow out as it was intended to do in order to support the long limbs where the berries should hang. But it will never be a berry bush. No matter how hard you try.”

Then she smiled and added, “The more you reshape it the less fruit you gather.  So, if you want a berry bush, than it’s wiser to plant a different kind of seed.” 

As I watch how the Healthcare industry is trying to change and reshape itself, I reflect on that story of the berry tree. If Healthcare needs to be different, then maybe it’s wiser to create something new, than it is to reshape that which it was intended to be. Maybe it’s time to grow from different seeds.

Change can be very hard to do from the inside. My advice is always to seek help from someone from the outside to get a fresh and different perspective to grow a new idea. Because thinking outside the box is just that, it’s the thinking from outside the box.

KMD

Posted in Business Conceptualization | Leave a comment

Why Change is Hard

In the Jar

There is an old quote I heard many years ago that goes something like this;

“You can’t read the label from inside the jar.”

Each time I’m asked about strategic ideation or innovation labs and why I believe them to be such a powerful tools for clients, businesses and organizations I always remember the quote. Trying to find a solution or discover new opportunities when you are so close to the situation or the problem is usually highly improbable. You see, it’s very hard to challenge yourself with questions or perceptions that drive new discoveries. The reason is simply, we naturally avoid asking ourselves questions we don’t know the answers to.

In many cases, to discover fresh ideas, solve problems or uncover new opportunities, it requires someone outside your jar to challenge with questions, ideas or observations that may be beyond your normal sight lines or focus. Strategic ideation or innovation labs conducted by outside resources can assist with this type of challenging thinking, a type of thinking process that becomes a provocateur to historic patterns and beliefs.

So, if you trying to “think outside the box”, change the paradigm or have a desire to change course direction, then my suggestion to you is to seek out an outside specialist to help you to see what is written the other side of the label. When you can do that, then you can begin to discover the opportunities and solutions unseen before.

As Winnie the Pooh always says “Think Think Think” and see how.

KMD

Posted in Business Conceptualization | Leave a comment

Reflections of 2015

Well, it’s the end of the year and when I take my traditional leave of absence from work and reflect back on the past year, my failures and successes and my life in general. But before I disconnected from all things technical and digital, I read one last email from a friend.

You see, my friend has had a very tough last few months due to family tragedies and pain. Death of a family member, cancer in his immediate family and the general weight of his company struggling to redefine itself. All this gloom and dread would make anyone sadden and place them in a dark place. Yet, for all the hardship he found a light flickering in all this darkness.

That light was merely three words. Words he heard so often from the one who passed that now ring so clearly to him that he felt he must share and share he did. He took those three simple words , wrote them in an email and shared them with over 200 others.

It’s these words, that child spoke so many times and I wish to pass on to you.

“Make it count.” 

To many times in our life, we ‘just do’ and not take the effort to do a little more. Enough makes no impact. I spoke with someone at lunch yesterday and we chatted about purpose versus process. All too many times, people start projects without defining the purpose and how it will impact others. To be successful, create purpose or improve others we simple must step up a little more. Don’t just do what is expected or just gets the job done, take a moment and ponder on how you can make each action count.

When we make something count, we can give it purpose, yes, we can even give ourselves purpose. So, when you start that new business, make that new relationship or start some new endeavor, remember these three simple words from a child whose life has passed way too soon, ‘Make It Count.’

May the coming new year bring you the best of all things, but most of all, I hope you can start 2016 with “Make It Count.”

See you all in 2016.

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