Thanks to the ten people who joined me for the first world-wide Linchpin meet-up day. We had a simple, enjoyable time relaxing over pizza and beverages. I meant to take photos and forgot.
Now that I’ve got a taste for how easy it is to put a meet-up together, I may just have to make local meet-ups a quarterly affair. I know some people out there prefer a few minutes of actual conversation intermixed with quality electronic communications.
In this grab bag post I’ll send out my best wishes for my good friends attending the Edward Tufte one day course in Seattle this Tuesday or Wednesday. I know you’ll have a blast and can’t wait until Thursday when I can hear all about how much you liked the class. Remember to watch not only the content of the course, but how Tufte delivers the content. He’s giving you a lesson in teaching that he’s thrown for free.
Never to leave a post without one great link, enjoy this article on leadership from the American Scholar. I’m finding myself recently drawn to the speeches given to the men and women in our service academies. Perhaps its the implied purpose of the cadet’s life that makes the speaker want to say something worth remembering. Whatever it is, we’re all benefiting.
Wishing you a fabulous week of driving change – April
If you want to succeed a driving change, practice drawing pictures. Specifically, practice drawing pictures of either what the future looks like or what the journey to the future looks like.
Because people think in pictures. If you can draw a picture in their minds that they can put themselves in, look around and feel at home, then you gotten them to a place where they can comfortably take action to join you in that vision.
Without the picture they are like a person in a dark, unfamiliar room, tripping over everything as they fumble for the lights. Give them the light; give them the pictures. Whether in words or drawings, they must have the picture.
Today I spent the day trying to figure out how to show the strategic vision of complex system in easy to understand words and drawings (notice I didn’t say simple–simple often has a bad connotation). By the end of the day I got to a picture that while imperfect will stand in for a blank piece of paper and will get others talking about how the picture doesn’t match what they see in their heads. That’s the conversation I want to happen. Their comments will change the picture from mine to ours and in the end it must be our picture for the change to succeed.
Over the years, three things have helped me draw better and better pictures quicker and quicker, allowing me to drive change faster and faster. These three things may not work perfectly for you, but they won’t hurt you either:
Tufte will teach you the essentials. You won’t be the same when you leave at the end of the day, because you’ll have rules to measure what excellent visual displays of information look like and you’ll have a challenge–in the form of Tufte’s motivation and the books he sends home with you–to seek excellence because you can, not because you must. [Key: Tufte is driving change in his students and I love him for that.] If you can’t get to his one day course, check out his site, edwardtufte.com, or his books at your local library.
2. Read Dan Roam’s Back of the Napkin, a challenge to and method for drawing pictures to gain understanding quickly.
The pixel count of your drawing doesn’t matter if you don’t get your thought across. But how do you guarantee you can regularly, quickly get your thoughts across? Well, wherever you are, you’ll rarely be at a loss for the back of a napkin to store your thoughts on. So, by Roam keeping your tools simple–yet powerful–he gives you needed agility. Agility is key when you must win someone to your change far away from your computer and polished publicity materials.
3. Practice. Practice. Practice. The more you draw pictures–in meetings, in conversations, with words, with actual drawings–the better you’ll get. When someone says, “I think I understand what you’re showing me,” and can take action based on your picture–and it’s action toward the outcomes you want–then you’ll know you’re succeeding.
Drive change, in vivid pictures. All it takes is practice. Why not try?
Compliance is simple to measure, simple to test for and simple to teach. Punish non-compliance, reward obedience and repeat.
Initiative is very difficult to teach to 28 students in a quiet classroom. It’s difficult to brag about in a school board meeting. And it’s a huge pain in the neck to do reliably.
Schools like teaching compliance. They’re pretty good at it.
To top it off, until recently the customers of a school or training program (the companies that hire workers) were buying compliance by the bushel. Initiative was a red flag, not an asset.
Of course, now that’s all changed. The economy has rewritten the rules, and smart organizations seek out intelligent problem solvers. Everything is different now. Except the part about how much easier it is to teach compliance.
How right he is. Compliance training is all around us. Driving change is not about teaching compliance. But, how can you do the opposite and teach initiative?
I struggle with whether you can teach initiative because we’ve reduced the term teaching to only mean one person forcibly giving something to another, often unwilling person for them to accept and use as directed, or else. Snore!
In practice, the act of giving someone initiative proves foolish. I can’t give you something that is already inside you. And, I can’t make you use your initiative if you refuse. Ever try to get a teenager to do something they are capable of but patently refuse to do? You’ve seen the struggles of forcing initiative in others.
But, I can show you how to use your own initiative by using mine.
I’d call that demonstrating initiative and everyone can demonstrate initiative. How?
Though not limited to the formal classroom, my favorite demonstrations of initiative are classes where the teacher doesn’t give you something, but instead entices you to choose to do something; do something more because you can.
Professor Tufte and Dr. Shapiro don’t tell you, “When you leave here you must…” but instead leave you with, “Now what will you do with what you’ve seen?” And they’ve given you powerful images of what you could do, if you choose to engage your own initiative.
Embracing, then acting on, “Now what will you do with what you’ve seen?” is what you must do when driving change, when you’re demonstrating initiative.
Are you demonstrating initiative to those around you?
Are you choosing to do something with what you’ve seen?
To improve your understanding of how to share your discoveries and how to believe the discoveries of others, there’s hardly a better teacher for you than Edward Tufte.
His site edwardtufte.com is a treasure trove. His one day course is a must attend for anyone interested in driving change. He’ll teach you how to find the gaps in other people’s work and how to fill in the gaps in your own. I, for one, haven’t been the same since taking his one day course.