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    Entries in visual map (4)


    For the adventurers, cartographers and tool smiths 

    If failure is sexy and pivoting is in, that means we have a world of people who are keen to keep looking around, wondering, improving and trying stuff out.

    I reckon that might be you.
    I’m giving a big shout out and encouraging thanks to the:

    • adventurers : the people who cringe at bureaucratic BS and wasteful systems; 
    • modern day mapmakers and cartographers : who help people see what’s going on and where we’re going; and 
    • toolsmiths : those who use any type of tech, digital or analogue tool or  implement to get sh*t done.

    You're important mavens, facilitators and connectors in the workplaces of today … and the future.
    I think we’re always on the dangerous edge of losing touch with each other or wasting time on activities that don’t really make a difference.
    So as we head off on our next change journey or a transformation project or as we create a new product or try out something, I particularly want to zoom in on the mapmaker, the cartographer who helps guide or map what the heck is going on. 


    Unlock and formulate meaning 
    Static maps of two dimensional things – locations, objects, the universe, stars and planets – have a history as old as time. More recently, 3D and interactive maps have given us more knowledge, awareness, access and opportunity.
    We’re able to depict so much information and detail on a map, thanks to (now) well-recognised symbols and icons. And with the rise of digital mapping on our phones and devices, I think we’re breeding a new generation of map lovin’ people; who either like checking out (or in) where they are, or would LOVE to see more about where things are heading on your project.
    But there’s more to maps than just using them on our phones or devices to find out where we are or to use a GPS in a car to plot out the best or most scenic route. 
    Maps have a stunning place and role to play in the workplace. Here’s why:  
    “A map does not just chart, it unlocks and formulates meaning; it forms bridges between here and there, between disparate ideas that we did not know were previously connected.”
    From The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

    To help people know what’s going on, to help them buy-in to the change or project or to see what’s next, we all need a little bit of map maker in us. Here’s how.

    Start by mapping the dialogue
    Dialogue mapping is the activity of facilitating a conversation and capturing the threads. When people say stuff, you write some of it down. It’s that easy.

    Once you’ve got some threads, you write 'em down. These threads I'm talking about, it’s what we mean when we say ‘connecting the dots’.  Often you’ll hear people ask, 'Does that make sense?' They’re hoping you’re connecting the dots!

    It's known as sense making: we’re trying to work out what’s going on and what we need to do about it. 
    The beauty of a dialogue map is that you don’t let key content vapourise upward in the room back out through the air vents! No, you capture it and map it. It means others can see what is being said, in dialogue. It brings seemingly unrelated items together, creating a systems approach to thinking and conversations.

    Yeah but what maps?
    Try some maps like this: 

    • For competing sides use an argument map or a pros and cons chart
    • Isolate the questions people have or are asking
    • Collate the answers or ideas you’re all coming up with
    • Scope out the rationale
    • Pinpoint the data, sources of information or research
    • Show the connections and relationships, links and lines.

    Yes, these are maps. 

    The land was unknown before you mapped it and now there’s a map, there’s a way forward. 
    You’ll look like an adventurer, even if you don't feel like it because that map helps keep holding the threads together. 
    I’ve found dialogue mapping to be one of the most powerful tools working with groups and different cultures, countries, fields, industries, levels of literacy and in groups of large and small numbers.
    ‘Hooray!’ is what people often say (out loud or in their head; you can tell by their a-ha facial expressions!) when they see the product or thing you’re discussing taking shape. They’re finally able to see what’s been sitting quietly in other people’s heads!
    Then once it’s up there, further collaboration happens. You can start building on it. 
    Beyond that conversation or meeting, it becomes an artifact of the conversation; it marks a time in history when sense was made based on what was known. Anyway, maps keep getting revised all the time! This may be version 1.
    We are not listening all the time
    Mapping the dialogue helps people hear each other. Because we’re not really listening, are we? Hello? Are we? Well not ALL the time! I don’t think it’s about ‘making’ people listen to us, rather we need to use some other ways of making information

    • easier to relate to (what's in it for me)
    • quicker to digest (who’s got time for big hefty packs of info)
    • clearer to understand (we're all important here).

    This isn’t dumbing anything down anywhere. We are always going to have complex information and content to deal with.
    But we must try a little harder to be better sense makers - for others in the room and most importantly, for those who aren’t in the room! 
    Dialogue mapping helps people hear what’s being said that they just missed (while they were checking their phone).
    It helps capture complex content and represents the views of all, not just the loudest.
    It helps create shared understanding. 
    Meetings are shorter, more gets done, it’s a richer experience and it’s highly engaging. Your brain can not look away (for too long) when there is a changing map up there on the wall, whiteboard, window or chart. 
    If you're stressing thinking this is art...
    Please relax. It doesn’t really matter what your map looks like; it can have roads and cities and stops marked on it like a real road map or subway map for example; or it could be a bunch of circles connected with lines or perhaps one wavy line with some points marked on it or a few cloud-blob shapes with some words in them. 

    In the words of Sensemaking guru Karl Weick...
    ‘any old map will do’. 
    It doesn’t matter what it looks like, ok?
    Just have something for people to look at so they know where they are and what’s going on. 

    But not too box-ey ok? 
    I would put one rider on maps; I think there is a danger in having a boxy organisation chart-style map that we’ve lovingly created on our desktop in PowerPoint over the past three days. Urgh. If it looks like a hierarchy or control-like or template-ish, no, not a map. 
    We can get a little hung up on trying to make a ‘plan on a page’ and then reducing all that text down to 6 point font size so it fits in all the boxes we’ve jammed on the page. In trying to make sense we've gone all box-ey. That’s an over-engineered piece of vanilla that neither engages nor inspires. It might tick somebody’s box but it’s not going to light anyone up with ‘hey, that looks amazing; let’s work on this thing’. 

    Then. Now. Next
    The main thing to do is create something that helps people see:

    • where they are
    • where you’re all going. 

    Then you’ve got something to go with; you can can start working out how you’ll get there. 

    Road trip anyone?
    “To put a city in a book, to put the world on one sheet of paper -- maps are the most condensed humanized spaces of all... They make the landscape fit indoors, make us masters of sights we can't see and spaces we can't cover.” 
    From Eccentric Spaces by Robert Harbison



    A tool to make 2016 even better than 2015

    Before you turn the lights off, disconnect or switch off, no matter how cray-cray it feels out there, do this one thing...
    Hint at the future. 
    To help you make 2016 even better than 2015, indicate a few things on this visual roadmap for next year and give some hints for what could be for 2016.
    What could be better for you, your clients and customers, your team, your family, your community...?
    Don’t leave your work, team or project this year without this thought for next year’s focus.
    Even if you don’t know all the details yet. 
    When you hint at the future now, you'll have a much better result than trying to start fresh in 2016. If you come at this thinking all cold after a break or if you're feeling a little ‘bluh’ after too much turkey, you won’t do your best work - alone or together. 
    Leverage the crazy momentum of now to set some thoughts for next.
    So go ahead and get some of your initial thoughts, hints and hunches down now. Just a few. 
    Use a Roadmap for 2016
    Here's how to use my Visual Roadmap above for 2016....Print it out and have a think about:
    • the four quarters for 2016, stretching out ahead of you; what will they be about for next year? You can include a phrase or list of things to get done. (And there's a fifth quarter in there, did you see that? Use it to wrap up 2015 or even hint at 2017 - you choose!)
    • what your focus or major project is for each of those quarters; you could write that theme in the white signs on the side of the road.
    • and then add in any other key things to look out for or think about or work on; you could write that on the greenery on the roadside. 
    Some teams have a meeting to work on and chat about my roadmap, others fill it in and then compare notes - whatever works for you, get some initial thoughts down before you wrap up the year. 

    Comfort and Joy
    Here’s how else this Visual Roadmap for 2016 will be super helpful :
    • if you won’t be around for some of the holiday time, or if the team are working alone - they'll have a reminder of their overall focus
    • to help get people on the same page swiftly
    • make projects and activities connected to a bigger purpose or reason
    • make it real for people
    • put people at ease, and
    • make them part of the picture. 
    Get some of your thinking outta your head now; you will all reap great rewards when 2016 arrives. 

    Be super safe and enjoy every little thing until then...

    Blue-Sky Thinking, Strategy & Story

    Blue sky thinking is up there, out there, up ahead….
    We can’t see it yet but we have many ideas, possibilities, hopes. Blue sky thinking isn’t cliché; it’s thinking where there are no preconceptions and no limitations by current beliefs.
    When you put blue sky thinking to work – at work, at home, or anywhere else in your life or community – see it as three stages or steps, not just the singular step of thinking.
    See it as:

    1. Thinking
    2. Strategy
    3. Story

    Once you’ve done the ‘out there’ thinking, convert it to action and create the strategy that will reinforce and bring the thinking to life.
    Yet many organisations stop at this point.
    ‘We’ve got the strategy; see this spreadsheet and these tables and documents; that’s the strategy’
    Not so fast. I think you need to push on and create something else: the story that spreads the image and vision of those possibilities that you’re working towards.
    Make the thinking and strategy more tangible, possible, visible and real – after all, those on the team who will be enacting the strategy may not have had the benefit of weeks (or months or years) of discussions, debates and conversations that you and the team have had in creating it.
    Go beyond the the blue sky thinking; translate it to the strategy… and then go further and craft the storythat will bring the thinking to life, down on the ground where great work is getting done.
    An example: 
    A current project I’m working with a senior leader on is helping the team visualise ‘what good looks like’. The team has plenty of challenging work ahead of them. A visual map, strategy and story will bring their blue sky thinking to life, bringing it closer and making it more possible, attainable and less abstract.
    The bottom line is:
    it’s helps people make sense of it all, connecting dots and seeing where they are on the path to reaching the blue sky.


    A Visual Map for your 2015 Planning

    Happy new year to you for 2015!

    To help you on your way - no matter what you're doing with resolutions, resets, reviews or renews .... here's a visual map to plot out some 2015 intentions. 

    This is the visual map I use each year and this year it's a gift to ya! 


    It's a one-pager for a reason. It has the 'big picture' in one visual snapshot. Once I've completed it for the year, I put it up on the wall in my office or have it as the screen lock or screen saver on my devices. I want it to be there in front of me to act like a display or dashboard or map to remind me what I'm doing this year. 

    A big distractor for us achieving what we want is ... well.... distraction. Lack of focus is .... oh look, a cute dog running along the beach .... yes, that's me, I'll turn my head at the first fluffy jumping four-legged dog I see. Whatever your distraction is, let's get some focus in front of that distraction via this visual map. It's a quick and clear tool in the war against distraction. 

    Get focusing on this visual map each day, at times throughout the day, to get it embedded in your mind so that soon you'll know what it looks like without looking at it. 

    How to complete the Visual Map

    Here's how I use it - of course you can put whatever you like wherever your like - or create your own:

    1. I print it out and get myself a nice black marker; (yes for those that know me, it's probably a chisel tip marker!) ;-)
    2. Starting with the yellow circle-y - cloud shapes I write in my big 'WHYs'. Why do I do what I do? What's important to me? Is it family, health, freedom, independence, giving... think about what is important to you. These are written in first for me to look at and I know they are always part of why I do what I do. I write one in each yellow shape. You'll see the centre yellow one is bigger - that might work for you with one being above all others. So why do you do what you do? What's important to you?
    3. Below the big '2015', in the blue cloud shape I write a key word for focus. At Thought Leaders Business School, founder Matt Church suggests setting yourself a 'big word' to give you context and focus for your year ahead. Write it in there. Maybe it's about growth, productivity, clarity, love, balance, community - what's the one word that you're gonna be about this coming year?
    4. Along the road between now and the horizon, there are four grey segments. Think of these as 90 day blocks or quarters for the year. Set some goals for those 90 day blocks. What's the key word for each of those? What will each quarter be about for you? What do you want to achieve, think, feel, do, have, be? These spaces are purposely not too big - I don't want clutter and confusion there for you. There's space to write some key goals and targets and some key intentions. Sometimes, I keep it simple and then fill in more details for the latter 90 days as the year progresses.

    OK, get going on it...!

    How are you feeling about committing some of this to paper? 

    Sometimes I take the time to be quiet, listen to some music, sit at the beach or under a tree and complete this visual map as a real planning session. Other times, it's a quick and clear brain dump of what I've been working on and thinking over recent weeks. 

    Relax... it's not set in reinforced concrete - it's flexible, changeable and maleable.

    Use this as a kickstarter, a hack to get you focusing on what's important and why you do it, and breaking down the year into manageable chunks. 

    Let me know how you go... email me photos of your Visual Maps; I'd love to see them and know more about what you've got your sights set on for 2015.