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.

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

“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

The Story Spine and the Canvas

Recently, I had the opportunity to be refreshed on some fundamental storytelling techniques. One technique that earned my attention as a graphic recorder, either with traditional graphic recording on large sheet or my style of graphicnotes, is the Kenn Adam’s Story Spine technique in which the idea follows the classic fairytale framework.

If you’re not familiar with this technique allow me a quick diversion, as it will help later in this post. The Story Spine is a sequence of uncompleted starter sentences that define the story frame. These starters are; Once upon a time…, Every day…, Until one day…, Because of that…, Because of that…, Because of that…, Until finally…, Ever since then… This framework works wonderfully for quickly conveying a story about anything and it also gave me an idea for adapting to graphic recording.

Since we are those whom capture a flow of conversation I was wonder if graphic recorders could not have a “Story Spine” of our own. I understand that much of what we do is “in the moment”, yet idea of storytelling structure to graphic recording is quite intriguing and could change the game for reflection later on by the viewer.

So the challenge was to identify the various parts of graphic recording, especially in a business-meeting environment, and identify a possible Story Spine on the canvas. So I began the dissecting and pairing.

For graphic recorders, “Once upon a time…” is the establishing graphic of time, place and whom. We use clocks, calendar pages and so on visually record time and place is usually recorded as a stage, building or city. For who is expressed as people with nametags or a single person with a nameplate. The beginning is pretty clear.

Now we record the traditional pattern, “Every day…” In business, this is the ritual or rut of doing business. Sometimes we draw this as the process or mechanics of the client or event being reviewed.

“Until one day…” is identified as the catalyst or interrupt for the need to change. Remember, when we are brought in to co-facilitate as graphic recorders, the client is usually faced with a challenge or dilemma and is hoping to visualize a solution, so identifying the issue is key to the purpose of the recording.

For every action, there is a reaction. For every cause there is an effect. “Because of that…” illustrates this well. By using forms of mind mapping or context links from action statements we can progress the thinking in its various possibilities and diversions “Until Finally…” we achieve the near end of our recording, “The Big Idea”. This is the pinnacle of the drawing and defines the meetings purpose, to find that climactic change mechanism.

“Ever since then…” becomes the call-to-action and next steps for the team, which can be illustrated in various methods or preferences of the graphic recorder. These “Next Steps” is truly the change that needs to be provided and helps anchor the recording.

Don’t stop there, there is the moral that must be addressed, for the moral gives meaning and is the underlining driver for all the actions to be taken and how to avoid what no longer works. I believe this needs to be a highlighted area on the recording. It clearly illustrates the context of the visual conversation and helps focus the ideas moving forward.

So here is the recap as put to the Story Spine…

Before today, graphic recorders captured ideas and the conversations of groups while in the flow of the shared conversation, Each time, the graphic recording is created moving from left to right, top to bottom, text and images make reference points, add importance to ideas and link conversations along the way. Until one day, the idea of using a storyline framework was presented which would help guide the graphic recorder in staging the graphic recording and defining the relationship of sections on the page. Because of that the layout change and because of that the placement and connectors changed to help guide the viewer along the story of the challenge of the group, Because of that the graphic recorder was able to make the graphic recording a visual story of challenge, observation and direction. Because of that the participants could see the flow, sequence and conclusion until finally with this conclusion came their call to action for success.

The two morals of this story are that as Graphic Recorders, we have the opportunity to create masterful stories with each recording and produce guide maps to success. Second, never close your eyes to another industry’s tools as they may be opportunity to enhance yours.

The Archer and The Hare

Throughout history, stories have been used to communicate ideas, processes and even warnings. Fairytales and limericks helped children understand the world around them. Many religions used parables to teach people about belief, social behavior and the differences between good and evil. Stories, in any form, create better understanding, especially when associated with common activities in our lives. Some of these stories are analogies to help clarify complex ideas.

Business processes often use analogies to speed the comprehension process. Team sports are a popular theme. Baseball, Football and even Basketball are some of the most commonly used to express teamwork, strategy and tactics. Anyone who has played sports at anytime of their life can relate to this type of analogy. I have my favorite story or parable that speaks to strategy; “The Archer and The Hare.”

I can’t remember when I first hear this story used or even who my storyteller was at the time when it was told, but like all good visual stories, it has stayed with me most of my life. Allow me to share it with you.

***

Our young archer had practiced his archery lessons for weeks. He used an old flour sack filled with sand as his target. With each pull of the bow-string, he strengthened his arms and with each release of the arrow, sharpened his aim. By the end of four weeks, he had improved his marksmanship so well that he rarely missed his target.

Early one cool spring morning the young archer set out on his first hunt for food for his family. With his quiver filled with six arrows and his bow newly restrung, he set out for his task.

archer and the Hare

It wasn’t long before he cam upon an open field edged by a scattering of trees. In the middle of the field, sat a large fat hare nibbling on grass stalks. The young archer readied his bow and drew an arrow from his quiver. He slowly notched the arrow and drew back the bow-string. The bow creaked ever so slightly as he pulled on the string.

With the bow fully drawn, he paused, took a slow deep breath and aimed for his target. Just then, the hare began to move. Quickly the archer let fly his arrow. Swiftly through the air it sailed striking the very spot he had targeted, unfortunately the hare had moved and was no longer where the arrow would fall.

Quickly the archer drew a second arrow and pulled back his bow the second time. Once again he took a slow and deep breath to help steady his aim. The hare was now further away, but sitting still in the tall grass. With careful aim, the archer let fly the second arrow. Like the first, it sailed smoothly and with precise intent. As the arrow  closed on to its target, a slight gust of wind moved across the field causing the arrow to drift and missing the hare again.  The hare bolted to the safety of the tree line.

With haste, the archer drew a third arrow and began tracking the hare. With each bound, the young archer waited for his moment. The string was taut and the arrow ready. Now, only a few feet from the safety of the woods, the hare dashed headlong. The archer released the arrow. A twang rang out from the string and the arrow sailed through the air.

The archer was sure he would hit his target this time. The hare closed rapidly to the woods edge. The arrow approached at great speed. The tree line was mere inches ahead and the hare made his final leap.

The arrow struck hard and secure. The hare tumbled into the underbrush of the woods out of sight of the archer. He rushed to the woods edge. He didn’t find his arrow in his target, but stuck to a low hanging branch. A branch the archer did not see in his rush to shoot his third arrow at a fleeing target.

Upset and sadden, the young archer returned home empty-handed. Seeing this, his father sat him down and ask the boy to share his tale of the hunt. Bashfully, the boy spoke of the hare and the three arrows. He told how the first was on target, but the hare moved away. The second was a bit further shot, but the hare laid still. It would have struck, but a slight wind sent the arrow off course. The third was shot in haste, striking a tree limb he did not see.

The father smiled. “What you experienced was not uncommon.” he reassured his son. “You see, you took your first shot, aiming where the target was, not were it was moving to.” The boy nodded in agreement.

“Your second shoot, was a longer shot, but you did not the wind changing the direction.” Again the nodded in agreement.

“And you last shot was done in haste. You did not look broader to see if anything would affect the path of the arrow,” stated the father. With a smile, he looked at the boy and raised a net full of fish. “Its alright. We have food for today, but tomorrow, we’ll go out together and find that hare.”

Together, the two sat and talked. The boy laughed as his father shared stories of similar experiences he had as a young hunter. The talked well into the evening and the boy feeling wiser for the words of his father.

***

Well, I may not be the best story-teller nor have the story as colorful as told to me, but I made sure to cover the three aspects the story focuses on about strategy. The first issue is that of anticipation of your targets. Make sure to plan for movement. As a famous hockey player once expressed, “You skate to where the puck will be, not where it has been.”

The second issue is about understanding the conditions around your target and how they will influence your strategy moving forward. Allow for adjustments when needed and compensate for these conditions when all possible.

The last issue, I feel, is the greatest issue facing achieving your target. Not watching those conditions around you as your target moves. Be aware of obstacles that move into your path. Take a broader view of your strategy and see what may create obstacles that could end your path to the target.

o to those planning a strategy or are working through a new strategy, remember the advice from the father to the young archer, plan for influences, aim ahead of the motion and always view with a wider eye.

Good luck and happy hunting.

Prism of Ideas

What is the role of a graphic facilitator? How does a graphic facilitator impact a gathering? Is it merely to provoke and record replies or is it much more?

For me, it is so much more. I see the role more than a recorder or facilitator, I see a function which goes deeper than what a participant may observe or be even aware is happening. The role of a graphic facilitator can be compared to the effect that a prism has on light. Graphic facilitators are visual prism for ideas.

Prism of Ideas

For a graphic facilitator, I view the most important function is not the recording nor is the clever tools in the box, rather, the ability to filter a singular idea into a full spectrum of possibilities and discoveries. A single idea is more than a simply thought; for hidden deep inside it can be an endless collection of new possibilities and by applying various techniques and tools we become a prism for those ideas. Taking a single thought and splitting it into multiple ideas through creativity, investigative and mechanical channels, we enrich the conversation, uncover possible and multiple solutions as well as offer a larger view of opportunities for those we serve.

So the next time some ask you what you do, tell them this…

“I am your idea prism.”

So, continue making those ideas visual and keep your prism clear and clean.