Sketchnoting Food Tours

On a trip to Miami for a conference, I had the great pleasure of participating in a wonderful experience. A large group of attendees were presented with the opportunity to take a walking tour of some of Miami’s authentic Cuban restaurants. Being the type of person who loves to experience great food and culture, I was game.

What I soon discovered was that our tour guide was more than just a guide, she was a passionate lover of the culinary world. She was not just giving us a tour but guiding us along a culinary experience unlike any other I have ever had. Up and down side streets to small little niche shops and restaurants we explored and discovered some of the most interesting people and culinary pleasures.

What made this a true experience was the passion Lisa from Miami Culinary Tours had about her world. She wanted each guest she lead to understand, experience and appreciate the culture, food and heritage behind the restaurant scene in Miami. She created moments of memories and embraced what it meant to stage experiences. With only a small amplified speaker and the streets of Miami, Lisa used all these locations as the stages for the experiences or food exploration. And the “Ing the Thing” was not eating, but devouring a culture through its food and drink, consume the Cuban heritage and digest the knowledge she shared.

Bravo!

food tour

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!

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.

 

Focusing The Conversation

Part of the role I am tasked with in my field is helping to uncover the underlining issues that most groups or individuals are overlooking or are unaware that exist. I traditionally do this through the use of visual translations and interactive visual thinking. It is important initially to make sure the goal is clear for the outcome of any meeting. As the role of facilitator, setting the path direction is key.

There are various methods used . All have their place and purpose. One idea I enjoy is starting any conversation with a question, but not your typical question. A question that becomes the focus lens to issues that may need to be uncovered. A question that is approachable, yet has very telling feedback. I call this a focusing question.

Focus Question

After introductions and everyone is comfortable and before the real work begins, introduce a index card with the question visualized above.

“____________ need(s) a way to _______________, because_________________________.”

Share with them that the first space, I’ll call the “Who”, should be filled with a person or persons that you feel are key to your group. It can be anyone from a customer, staff, executive or even family or friends. The second space, which I’ll call the “What”, is the key process or action that can not be achieved currently. And last is the “Why”. This is the reason or purpose for the need by a person or persons.

It is important to note that, by not directing them to a specific person, action or purpose, you begin the process of unlocking each person’s more urgent concern. Once completed, collect the responses and during the course of the event. Combine and tally all the participants responses on a grid. Now you can begin to see an insight into the underlining issues that maybe present, but not discussed.

Start the Conv

By initiating the conversation in this way, you have a guiding tool throughout the conversation/session that also allows to keep the conversation on track as well as providing content for deeper reflection after the event.

Public Transport Theatre

Graphic recording, visual thinking and even sketchnoting are all things hard to communicate via email, phone conversations and even one-on-one, so how can you share what you do with impact and clarity?

Find a captive audience and let the show begin!

Recently, on a trip to Vancouver, BC, I was onboard the Clipper heading over to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Ferry crossings are slow and take a good amount of time. Like all public transportation, the seating is adequate. On the Clipper, seats are arranged in tight groups of four around mini tables that are provided for eating, reading or just relaxing. The advantage of traveling with one other person is that you always end up seating across from two strangers.

On this trip as with so many others, I pulled out my sketchbook to record some ideas I have thought about. I opened up my pad, grabbed by pens and began visually reconstructing an idea. Immediately, the couple across from us became interested and then hooked. Their eyes followed as my hand moved from one node to the next as if unveiling chapters in a story.

Eventually, one of my audience speaks up. “What is that you’re doing?” That’s my cue. Start the music from the Calliope, put on the smile and it’s showtime? My response is always the same… “I’m capturing ideas visually so others can understand later on.” This is vague enough to get a head nod or a tilt of interest.

The next few minutes I explain how visually we all think and remember things as well as show examples of earlier work, either on my tablet or from the sketchbook. I share with them how others have used my talents to better communicate or identify ideas to larger groups. While all this is happening, curiosity spreads around the nearby seats and more eyes and ears are drawn in on the conversation.

I demonstrate how it helps, not by using the spoken word, rather by starting a new page and banner title it “Interesting People I Have Met”. I ask them to share why they do what they do and begin the recording. I ask eavesdroppers also. Soon a handful of people join in and the fun begins. People begin connecting with me and with each other.

Nov TripThe show is in full swing, time to spread the word…

Eventually, someone inquires about applications of this thing you do. Time to get contact information and spread out the calling cards. Remember, you’re not just creating new friends, this is you livelihood and the best way to promote yourself, because you never know if they may be the next client or stepping stone to that client. At this point I always politely try to get email addresses to send them links to see the final work as well as my portfolio.

“Storytelling is the key to adding value to anything you offer, especially if it’s others providing that story.”

Storytelling 01

Anywhere there are a mix of people waiting for something, you have an audience to entertain, share stories and eventual educate to the world of graphic recording and visual thINKing.

Frosty Business Advice

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost put it so eloquently when he penned these words. From this prose we can find great advice in business. Go where others have not or few have dared.

I have posted before that going where others have not is one of the best ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd. Frost speaks of two paths, the easy well-traveled path which many have traveled and many more will follow and the path that creates a difference in the traveler. Traveling the lesser path is a great metaphor for creating something new for yourself and the customer.

As in life, business has its paths also. These paths are a bit more diverse than just two options. Joseph Pine and James Gilmore write in the book “The Experience Economy” that there are five paths a provider can take when delivering their offering to customers. They describe these as “The Progression of Economic Value.”

Unlike where to travel, these progressions are more about how to deliver. I am not saying it is not important when establishing a unique offering to go where others rarely travel, but it is just as important is method you choose to deliver your offering. The chart below is a thINKing Canvas of this progression.

PoEV

The more advanced your method of delivery comes a greater challenge in the delivery, yet also the greater value and return from that method. I would suggest, as do the authors write, to move past traditional methods such “Services” and design your offering around creating an experience that customers find greater value and with greater value comes an increase in price. Customers will pay a higher price for a unique experience than a traditional service where may others exist. We are back to Robert Frost’s advice to take the path less traveled to make all the difference.

My advice, follow the word of Robert Frost and walk where few have traveled or create a whole new path that others may follow. The journey defines you, not the destination.

Until next time, keep a strong vision in your mind, but always draw it out so others can see.