A Game of Strategy and Tactics

One of my favorite activities for participants during strategy workshops is that of “Future History.” I have adapted a classic model into a blend of strategy and tactics to provide numerous clarifications and guidance for those individuals or companies wanting to elevate their game or change their current business direction.

The object of this activity is shape the future by defining a news report headline of an achievement that would create a media company to interview you or your organization. It sounds simple, but its not as easy as it sounds.

Want to give it a try?

It begins with step 1, the creation of the news-worthy headline that speaks to a major achievement or event as a headline. This is a narrative type strategy statement. Keep it in mind you want it of few words and eye-catching. Once you have the headline, write it into the space provided below the top arrow arch. Once you have it recorded, then determine how long this would take to occur and record that below the headline.

Step 2, starting identify a key milestone event or action that would occur that would allow the event in the headline to happen. What would have provided the future history event to be possible? Example: If the headline was read “Writer sells 3 Million Copies”, than identify a milestone that would occur just before that headline, such as, “signing an exclusive publishing deal.”

Step 3, like step 2, identify another milestone that would occur prior to step 2’s milestone that would allow step 2’s milestone to happen. Continue this same process for step 4 again.

After having all the milestones identified in sequence leading upto the headline, its time to identify some tactics that would lead to the headline. In step 5, identify the three key obstacles that would need to be overcome to achieve the first milestone. To make it more challenging, avoid listing money, funding or cash flow as an obstacle. Dig deeper to uncover these obstacles.

Now, continue identifying each set of obstacles that would exist between each milestone as they progress. Step 6 would identify new obstacles for achieving milestone at step 3 and step 7 would identify obstacles for step 2.

Finally, at step 8 identify the final set of obstacles in achieving your “Future History” headline. Take a moment when you have finished each milestone and each set of obstacles. Do they make sense? Are they in the right sequence to achieve the headline? If not, rework the steps until it feels right and the tactics support the final strategy defined by the headline.

As I said in the beginning, this is one of my favorite activities as it defines an end strategy through the narrative headline. It establishes the timeframe that the goal will occur. It also helps illustrate the need for milestones as small steps along the path. And finally, it helps identify individual key obstacles along the way that need to be overcome to achieve the final goal.

If you like activities like this and want to share with others or provide feedback of your activity results, please email me so to help improve the process.

Thank you and I hope your “Future History” come true.

Guided Change

I have written, tweeted and even presented a fair amount about change. Change in personal, business and organization environments. The one thing I have not shared is that desired change is guided.

change

Many speak about change as if it was a package you can just pull from the shelves, It’s not. Proper change is a guiding process which requires outside supporter, experts and journey guides. No desired change happens in a vacuum, we all need someone else to guide us along the path, because each of us travels at a different rate and course. There is no one single plan that can work for everyone.

Over the past many years I have worked with some powerful teams help clients with change. In every interaction, the clients that were the most successful had a clear picture of what change would look like and feel like. By creating what they wanted to become and mapping it out, could individuals, teams or whole organizations understand the path that they needed to take and the obstacles to overcome. Most importantly, they knew they had a guide to help them when they faltered or got off course.

Take as an example of personal hardship and eating disorders. a young woman who had fallen into a ritual of poor eating to fit in with the crowd. When she finally realized, after great pain and medical issues, that she needed to change, she found a guide coach who could help her change, not change her. Soon she was on the road to who she wanted to become, and not what others wanted her to be. Read her story here and see how she is now helping guide others along the path she once traversed. The Unpolished Journey.

The second thing I have rarely shared about change is that it is never over. Change is ever evolving as time passes and events unfold around the change that is happening. With change, you can only describe what you believe you wish to become, map the path and begin the journey. Change is not a destination, but truly a journey where new ideas and revelations are revealed that may take you even further. As with Morgan Blair, founder of The Unpolished Journey, her journey of change rippled out around her, changed her from traveller to guide.

Now let’s take an organization who needs and wants to change. Healthcare organizations are being forced to change. These organizations are being directed from external forces. This method of change is not good nor will they control their outcomes. This is a spiral down and not a journey forward. Companies like Starizon are gathering people to help make change a positive path. Even the team members that help the transformation are called Guides and the client as explorers. In change, we explore options and possibilities and our guides help us, never lead or dictate the paths taken.

Change is transformation. We move from one state of being to another. Transformation is the journey we take to self discovery and change. Just as illustrated below, change is only possible in the future state, the past is unchangeable. In order to cross the gap of change, We need to redefine our purpose of why, map the process of ‘How’ to achieve ‘What’ we want to become.

Change Deltasm

To learn more or chat about how mapping your bridge to the future, just contact me when you decide that you want to take control of your own change.

Alcoholism Rises to 500%

Drink UpThis may soon be the headline we read in the not too far future.

When mapping out cause and effect of any new development or change, it maybe helpful to visually map out how that new development or change will affect other conditions.

In the example of the title headline, imagine as more and more autonomous self-driving cars or accessible to the public some responses may not be as positive as expected. With self-driving cars, occupants are no longer responsible for their condition behind the wheel. Not being responsible for driving allows people the opportunity to indulge in excess.

Yes bartender, I’ll have another, I’m not driving.

In this example, more autonomous cars could bring about a dramatic increase in public drinking and alcoholism. After all, we’re human.

Autonomous cars and drinking maybe a dramatic example that may never unfold, but then again, it does have the possibility. Look at how companies approach developmental change within an organization. What maybe a small change from the top will ripple down may have unseen consequences if not mapped out. What about dramatic change such as rebranding, environmental design, digital adaptation or even evolving staff culture?

For companies attempting to evolve and stay profitable, not seeing how change will unfold could be as dangerous as not changing at all. This is why visual thinking and graphic facilitation are such a powerful tools in Organizational Change or new product development.

See the possible outcomes and pitfalls before you implement change.

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

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!

Midwest Businesses and GraphicRecording

In the past few months I have seen a dramatic rise in the request in information for graphic recording and visual translations. Is it because of some super clever marketing campaign or some incredibly smart social media gorilla stunt that has gone viral?  Not really. The increase appears to be sourced through the an increase in activities of both sketchnoters and graphic recorders pushing their work into main stream culture through social media channels and gaining local and national press.

Take a look at this news piece on CBS News about Sunni Brown and the business of doodling or this article in a local Business Journal which introduces the idea of graphic recording as a tool to improve daily work and general thinking. (Yes, it’s about me and graphic recording. A selfish plug, but then again, you’re already here.)

Yes, graphic recording is on the rise. Be it personal sketchnotes posted on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, or more graphic recorders sharing on LinkedIn and Twitter, the business world is taking notice and responding accordingly by Following, Liking, Pinning and Adding to professional networks. Graphic recording is becoming a business acceptable practice.

Even for myself, my various applications have become a point of conversation with prospects and clients within the financial community, healthcare and business consultants. Corporate strategic planning sessions are incorporating more visual recorders to meetings to add greater value and deeper retention of plans, conversations and general gatherings.

Why?

I can’t answer for the general population, but from my personal experience and conversations with those inquiring what it is that I do, a realization of the power of graphic recordings and conversation maps is becoming clearer. And with this clarity comes greater curiosity. Businesses are looking for stronger advantages in the market place and graphic recorders are helping them to see opportunities that once were unseen and intangible. They are beginning to see!

So, if you’re a business, organization or a start-up, connect with a graphic recorder and get your ideas, plans and thoughts drawn out and seen so you can move forward with a clear plan and a map to your future.

 

You Are Here

I love the malls. My biggest enjoyment in these massive places is people watching. You can learn so much about how we humans interact and react. Also, there is great inspiration in these shopping meccas. One inspiration I use came from a sign that almost all shoppers have see, read and referred. It’s a sign predominately display for all to see.. I am referring to the mall map. The sign that plots out all the shops by place and group of services or goods.

The mall map tells us so much about our environment. However, this sign in its entirety was not the source of my inspiration, rather the simple red dot icon and three words accompanying it. “You Are Here.” As a statement to anyone planning strategy, this hits home quickly and strongly. In order to plan, we need to know where we are on this very spot and in this current time. We need to know where “You Are Here” is.

Here is a visual exercise that I challenge anyone who is planning to move forward to answer ‘Who’ and ‘What’ holds you bank and drives you forward.

Hold Back Move Forward

 

Before you can move forward you need to know your “You Are Here.”

 

Taking Action

An associate of mine and I were discussing a project he was undertaking over drinks. He explained to me some of the most complex issues and connections associated with a single project I have ever heard. So many moving parts that even the flow chart he created to “simplify” the decision-making process was overwhelming. I was constantly getting lost in the “What if’s” that I even couldn’t keep track of where I was along the plan. The worst part was neither could he as he tried to explain all the paths, conditions and consequences.

Time for a simpler view…

actions

I sketch this to explain a simple process. We make three possible decisions when presented with an issue. Either we agree and move forward, block and reject the idea or wait for something else to make that decision. In my experience, option three means giving up any power over the outcome unless the condition is in flux and you are waiting to take the first or second action.

After the sketch and a bit of conversation, I asked if he could highlight at each major point in the process where this image would come into play for him. After a bit of review, he realized that his need for making critical decisions was not as many as he anticipated, nor would the smaller decisions, which he could delegate, greatly alter the course of the project. He also added an extension to the first decision of holding a torch or passing it on representing self-ownership or delegation.

I truly believe we live in a self-created world of over complexity and confusion due to lack of focus, vision and prioritization. We all need to simplify the process in order for us to live, work and play efficiently and affectively. Using visual thinking and design thinking processes can help us create focus and clarity even to the most complex problems.

Here is my advice, if you’re confronted with a dilemma that appears more than a simple ‘Yes or No’ decision, stop, take a breath and do a quick sketch like the one above. Now add the effect/answer alongside each of these decisions to get better clarity and focus. See how your response will play out before you take action. Then, determine the best course of action before sharing your decision. The power of visual thinking is seeing a solution before acting on it and not the reverse.