Lemming vs Prairie Dog

After being around, in and outside of many corporations over the past 30 years, I have come to the simple observation that there are two distinct types of companies. Sure you can argue that there are many variations, but I like these two as polar opposites.

Lemming, Inc. – by the books kind of operation.

Lemming Inc 1K

The Prairie Dog Co. – a very adaptive and diversified group.

Prairie Dog Co 1KMy question, which are you?

Sighted Vision

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Helen Keller

Vision ComparedAs Helen Keller so eloquently stated, sight is not everything if one does not have vision. Vision is more than a dream to achieve something, vision is being able to see obstacles, goals and the right path to achieve your dream. Visual translation is that tool that can convert your dream into a tangible vision. By utilizing the talents of a visual translator or graphic facilitator, a person or group can develop visual strategies that help solidify the future and lay the path to success.

Creating a thINKing canvas, you are able to convert the intangible dream into a tangible vision plan and as I always say, ‘the best plan is one seen by all.’ Mere words or text cannot always articulate beyond the content of the communication. Graphic maps can help show links in conversation, uncover gaps in thinking and offer insights to other opportunities.

Using journey maps, mind mapping and graphic-notes, entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations can create a tangible visual that everyone can see and understand. Graphic maps provide the articulation that words or text sometimes overlooks or understates and can put everyone on the same path with the same goals in mind. Once everyone has the same vision, than everyone can constructively work towards success. That’s having sight with vision.

Presto Chango!

I am still amazed by magicians. They create the illusion that magic exists. In fact, it actually does in some form when you think of all the practice and psychology that goes into art of magic and illusion. Magic is merely not knowing the mechanics, direction or outcome and being rewarded by the performance when it happens

This reminds me of a quote…

mad hatter quote

Graphic facilitators and Visual Thinkers do not offer magical solutions. Those are only found in fairy tales. What is available to small businesses and start-ups is the ability of visual thinking, graphic facilitation and recording and even the growing popularity of sketchnotes to create a vision. As the Mad Hatter states, to utilize the strength of visualization, one must believe.

There are some people who refuse to believe that visualization can help create a solution. Graphic facilitators and recorders are perceived as artist to the spoken word. Transforming speech and text into murals of conscious thought. People don’t need to believe in magic to have visual thinking help create solutions. The reality is, like magicians who train, research, rehearse and master their art (skill), graphic facilitators and recorders are specialist in drawing out processes and opportunities. Science and art blend in such a way that it can appear to be a magical solution, but it is not. It is a truly enriched thinking process.

Once a company or individual embraces how powerful visual thinking can be, then, I guess, something truly magical does happen, clear vision. It is this clarity of vision that creates a strong strategy and eventually growth and success.

As I always share with people I meet, “the best plan is one seen by all.”

However, if you are still looking for a magical solution, than you must believe in magic to find it are forever wait.

Let’s Make A Deal

I am amazed that the show “Let’s Make A Deal” is still so popular after 50 years. Yes, this year, 2013, the show turned fifty years strong. Starting in 1963 and having various hosts and enduring numerous recessions, wars and prosperity, the show has continued to survive and thrive on a very basic premise, ‘Choices.’

They say art mimics life. This show is proof of that. Take a basic concept of making choices of unpredictable outcomes, and add lights, loud clamber, funny costumes and thousands of people who want to make it rich and you get life and a long-lasting television show. Surprisingly, there is a lesson in all this. A lesson businesses and start-ups can learn from.


Choice is a very powerful thing. It can be exciting, dreadful, painstaking, crippling and even boring at times, but choice is still something we have full control over even if we don’t think we do. Starting a business, project or even launching a new product or service, we have choices to make. Just like the show, most of those decisions are made blindly without knowing the repercussions of that decision. Your choices may bring riches or you may get zonked. That choice you make is the one you must live by. And that goat you got zonked by, will cost you more than it’s worth. Luckily, that’s where the similarities to the television show can end.

Unlike the game show, you can avoid playing the mystery game of choosing a door and then living with the consequences, you can be more strategic if you do one thing first….

Have A Good Plan

I know, sounds so obvious so why spend my time writing about starting any endeavor with a plan? Because many people start a project, career or business with only half a plan. Yes half, at best. Roughly laid out, all expectations of success and no fall back, exiting or alternative strategy put into place. The belief that a single idea (the game show door analogy) will bring you success. This is where adding a bit of pre-planning to your plan pays off big time and those doors, well now you can create the option to choose the next one if you don’t like what’s behind door number 2.

As I always state ‘the best plan is one everyone can see.’ Making a visual plan (utilizing graphics and text) let’s you do two very important things. First, by drawing out your plan, you actually begin (th)INKing about it in a different way. You offer yourself a second opinion on your own idea so that the glow of that idea (imagine a bright light bulb) does not blind you. By creating a visual map, you can begin seeing the stages and obstacles along the process or journey of your endeavor before stepping through and accepting a single choice and dealing with being zonked.

The second and greatest thing about creating a visual map, is that others can see your idea also. Visuals offer a greater clarity to complex ideas. When others can see what you are planning, the opportunity to discover gaps, obstacles and even secondary strategies is created. This process is called collaboration and is a dynamic toll in achieving success. Having a visual map also increases the ability for others to remember the idea long after you present it to them. This is very powerful when sharing your idea, business concept or project with possible mentors or even financial backers. They remember longer with greater detail. They can see what you see.

Life imitates art that imitates life. Before you make that deal for success or to be zonked, put your plan on paper. Go beyond pure text, add images and pictures to show what you are thinking about. Show your plan. It’s easier to explain and far stronger of a tool than mere words. Also, it’s okay if you can’t draw like an artist, draw like a planner…. keep it sketchy, keep sketching, because when you sketch out ideas, you’re actually (th)INKing better and clearer.

Business Lesson from Aesop

What can we learn from Aesop’s Fables of the Ass and the Grasshopper?

An Ass having heard some Grasshoppers chirping, was highly enchanted; and, desiring to possess the same charms of melody, demanded what sort of food they lived on to give them such beautiful voices. They replied, “The dew.” The Ass resolved that he would live only upon dew, and in a short time died of hunger.

AssGrass The message is all too clear, one person’s methods are not the same as yours. Mimicking the tactics of others without understand the purpose or strategy is harmful to your strategy and long-term success.

Many companies see a successful business and figure if they duplicate the tactics they will earn the same market awareness and thus the same results. I take Apple as a prime example. We see Apple as an industry leader, dominate brand and strong culture and any one of us would enjoy the same results. What people fail to remember is the challenges Apple faced in their early years. The were not as successful as one would imagine. They did not gain market share overnight. Applying another organizations tactics without understanding their strategy or having very similar strategies is pure foolishness. Like the Ass, you are not the same as those you admire. Mimicry may be the highest form of flattery, but it also is the highest form of failure in business.