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.

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

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

Flow of the Experience

Many speak on the topic of experiences. This creates many interpretations of how experiences are defined. What I have come to notice is how very few speak about broader picture of experiences. The flow as you may say.

Experiences are viewed generally as an event or a moment in time. In many cases this is a true statement, however, there is a larger view of an experience that most overlook. The view of the experiential flow.

Every event or experience in one’s life rarely just happens spontaneously and then is gone. No, a well staged experience requires careful planning and structure. It is this structure that helps properly stage an experience and ensure it produces the desired effect and lasting memory.

What does this structure look like? It is a combination of time and spacial elements aligned in a unique sequence.

E Flow sm

The dominate time factors are Before, During and After an event or experience. The deeper aspects are action zones such as Enticing, Entering, Existing, Engaging, Exiting and Extending. Finally, there are the spacial aspects such as the Outer world which exist in the Before and After time factors, the Environment which has the experience and finally, the Point-Of-Experience where the target experience is staged.

All of these elements of time and space comprise the staging of an experience, not merely just the Point-Of-Experience or the Experience. To stage a successful experience, an experience must be orchestrated well before the experiential moment to create desire to enter and then afterwards to ensure the memory created is strong enough to create more wish to return.

The experiential flow should never be seen as a single instance. The Extending actions should always lead back to the Enticing to ensure repeat visits.

So, the next time you hear someone speak about an experience, be aware if they speak of the entirety or the instance, because a well staged experience is so much more the experiential moment most focus on.

If you want to hear more, please contact me via email.

 

thinkAbout 2015

A visual recap of thinkAbout 2015 in Atlanta on the idea of “Ing the Thing” Adding action to a thing to begin thinking about the experience.

The “Regiception” – Reception and Registration Experience. (note this year’s joke is in the upper left. In addition of the morning tour to Chick-fil-A’s headquarters and the recipient of this year’s EXPY award.

thinkAbout 2015 01

Day 1 – Touring

thinkAbout 2015 02

Day 2 – Thinking about Ing the Thing

thinkAbout 2015 03

A special thanks to our after event excursion to The Prime Family of Business Office and congratulations to Jolene for receiving the EMA award.

The Edge of Change

The world we live in is a funny place. Conversations, styles and even perceived needs are cyclical. What is old is new and new, well, that’s so this morning. Every thing changes. Everything. Those things, people, businesses that don’t, well, that’s so in the past. Change is the only constant they say and I find it to be true. Change up, change back, change around, change out, change into, etc… We have so many perceptions of change that the adaptations seem endless.

Change comes in various sizes and increments. Some changes are dramatic while others are subtle. No matter what, change happens to us all each day. The real goal is to try to guide change as best we can, because change never happens as we expect. It always has hidden surprises or consequences.

But what is change? When does something or someone change? I guess that answer lies in the eye of the observer. Only those closely watching can see the change happening, but for most, we see the event after the change. But what if you could plan change in some fashion. This I have asked for some time and here is what I have created.

Based on the idea that yesterday and today are unchangeable, if you avoid any theoretical ideas of time travel, that only leaves the future for change. And, if change only happens in the future, than you can guide the outcome given you can determine all the factors affected by change. And so, here is my model for change.

Change Deltasm

This is my Delta model for change. Even if you stand at the very edge, change will occur. Time always moves forward and you must move with it. But you can decide how you want the change to happen and what you want the change to create once you understand why you want or need the change to happen.

As the model indicates, change should be an improvement and performed of a duration of time through some given process. Also, you must determine any and all pitfalls and obstacles that may hinder you crossing the gap of change.

So the steps:

  1. Why is there a need for change? “Why”
  2. How will this change occur? “How”
  3. Who can help you achieve this change? “Who”
  4. What improvement will change create? “What”
  5. How long will the change take? “When”
  6. And where do you want to be when the change is complete? “Where”

Map the change before you act. Take you intangible idea and make it a tangible plan.

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.

Crossing the Gap – Strategy

I realized the other day that I had not posted in a while, mostly due to the extensive amount of work I have had in these past months and because of a project that I started over 10 years ago has been reignited.

It’s this very program or process I want to post about. During the past 10 years, our economy has seen some major changes. Changes that have forced people to review how they come to market and what to offer. Unfortunately, this thinking is the same format as years gone by and is beginning to fail businesses as well as organizations. Competing on price and product mix is not winning the new business nor is it growing the current model. What needs to change is how we think about business.

Historically, a business ran on an apathetic model, the spreadsheet and numbers. The challenge was to have black ink in the revenue columns and red in the cost columns. Yet times have changed. More and more businesses are discovering it’s increasingly harder to run on only the spreadsheet alone. Something isn’t working. Why?

Is it because competition is growing, customers are getting smarter, technology is changing faster or demand is going online? Yes and no.

Over the past 20+ years, consumers have changed. They think differently, respond differently and make buying decisions differently. Okay the first two statements are true, but that last one may not be. How we make decisions hasn’t change as much as you may like or choose to use as an excuse. What has changed about decision-making is that we, as consumers, are pushing back on want and focusing more on our needs and something very unique in modern business, relationships.

Yes, relationships. Consumers want more than merely acquiring products, they want to have a relationship with providers. They want to connect with a purpose, not a buying cycle. Consumers are seeking out those who speak to them and present similar likes. The normal supply and demand process is dying as more and more consumers demand unique and personal customization. In essences, they are seeking a partner in their buying relationship who can connect with them as an individual, not as a number on a spreadsheet or a demographic type.

Spin the clock forward ten more years, a few years before the “Great Recession.” At this time, something else was changing. The progression of economic value was evolving to a whole new level. No longer was merely providing a service enough, consumers wanted to experience an offering. They wanted meaning and fulfillment emotionally. Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore called this change in the economy as “The Experience Economy.” They have authored numerous books on the subject so I will not attempt to plagiarize their research nor their views. I will say this, the Experience Economy is a dramatic shift for both consumer and provider alike. The spreadsheet model doesn’t stand up to this economic delivery model. Why? Because relationships can not be put into a column and measured by red or black ink.

It is this idea of the shift in the economic offering that put a few people to work on discovery what has changed on the business model and what works on this new environment. Months of research and development went in to discredit a traditional business plan model. Surprisingly, the business model still had its place in the business world, but not as the golden rule anymore.

Another model was needed. Not to replace the old, but to compliment the model in a way that mirrors how the economy and consumer has changed or evolved. A framework that addresses the relationship before the transaction. That model needed to see the consumer as people and not product buying numbers. The challenge is crossing that gap from traditional business model to a relationship based provider-ship.

Okay, its 2014 and after 10 plus years of testing, stumbling and finally seeing the combination, a small team unlock a unique sequence for developing a business model that works in this era of relationship based business. The acronym originally given was I.M.A.G.I.N.E. After ten years, the name resurfaced and held true. For name was a combination of the steps along the journey as well as the process needed to achieve the steps.

Here is a look at one of the canvases I use, as one of the creators, to have a discussion about this model :

Crossing the Gap 01

 

What amazes me to this day about this model is that it’s about making connections with others through Purpose and Trust. Each step across the gap challenges you to think differently about aspects around the emotional connection between two people, provider and the acquirer, the look at the environment that supports that relationship and, the mindset connecting those in the relationship.

There is considerably more to this model that address issues of identifying success as well as establishing the commitment needed to follow this unique and eye-opening model. In the end, IMAGINE is the pre-work model that allows a person, business or organization to create that purpose, that “Why’ as Simon Sineck says, that draws others to a relationship. It is the framework on a human level of empathy, not apathy.

See an example of IMAGINE during a recent conference for the banking community: LINK

Are you looking to evolve yourself, your business or the organization to meet the needs and wants of future consumers? Drop me an email and let’s talk.