Highlights from Miami

The “Art of Excellence” in Healthcare was a wonderful experience. Here are some highlights.

"Simplify Healthcare" Keynote
“Simplify Healthcare” Keynote
Rolf Speaks on Passion and Patients
Rolf Speaks on Passion and Patients
Focusing on Culture
Focusing on Culture
Avoiding Burnout in Healthcare
Avoiding Burnout in Healthcare

 

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

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.

 

Were Neanderthals Better Strategist

In today’s world of high-tech, multiple channel communications and the sense of instant response are we doing ourselves an injustice by practicing poor strategic planning or at least the techniques we use because of shorter attention spans? I feel people are forsaking the potential of strong strategic planning skills because of the high pace electronic life we live in. Somehow we need to stop, take a breath, and reflect. Reflection is one pivotal aspect of strategic planning critical to success.

So, Neanderthals were better strategist, why do I think this, sort of? It’s simple; they used a tool to stay focused on their tasks and goals. They drew out their stories and strategies for the tribe to see and survive on the very walls were they lived. These cave wall drawings offered a focal point for reflection and refocusing. Everyone involved saw the story/plan and it allowed the tribe to work as one unified team. The history and goal were always in view and that’s the key to a strong strategic vision, keep it in sight.

Cave Walling

As a visual translator, I have illustrated many business, strategy and development plans for organizations and individuals. I’ve heard and seen a variety of ideas and approaches as different as the groups involved. In my experience, those who utilized a visual map or graphic recording from a strategy session have better alignment of their team and to the vision or strategy that was created. These types of visual translations or visual maps are very powerful tools for focus, alignment and guidance.

My suggestion to help refocus, maintain alignment or reflect on your strategy is to go Neanderthal with your plan. Draw it out and nail it to your cave wall (Boardroom) for all to see. By showcasing your strategic vision you and your team always have it in sight. Like a road map, everyone knows where you’ve been, where you are and where you’re going.

With over 20 years working with businesses, I’ve come to realize the importance of this singular idea; when everyone is seeing the same vision, everyone begins moving in the same direction and eventually achieving success together. This idea inspired my motto, “The best plan is one seen by all.” So, my advice, step back and go Neanderthal with your vision.