Success is built on value. Value is realized when connected to people. The challenge is finding and focusing on the right elements in business that create value.
Making the right decisions to advance the business, amplify value, and protect what is important means getting the right information and mutual understanding of what matters.
The key to moving faster and creating value is visualization.
This seemingly simple and often overlooked exercise allows people to actually “see” how things work. Done properly, individuals contribute their insight and experience to the process and emerge with a clear, mutual understanding.
While the outcome is useful, the process matters more. It lends itself to questions; not of the person, but of the process.
Bring people together through pictures
Use available skills and tools to bring people together and physically illustrate the process from idea to production (or whatever is appropriate).
For most, this the first time that they step back to consider and document the flow of their work. To keep the process effective, select as small a group as possible. Five or less is a good starting point. Additional people are often consulted or added as the process unfolds.
Appoint someone to scribe the process; I prefer whiteboards, but charts and projected technology works, too. The key is creating a visual anchor for people to see the work process unfold. Simple works better.
The power of collective visibility into the business
Kick the process off by asking the person at the beginning of the process to describe the flow as they understand it. Let people take the time to think about and describe the steps they follow. Capture the sequence with boxes, arrows, and words. Sometimes it includes question marks or the like. Focus on progress over perfection; the result can be cleaned up later.
The first draft is usually messy. Few people have a complete understanding of the complexity of their own processes. As dependencies and connections become clear, the final result — even when cleaned up — is a often cumbersome and ugly.
Taking time to guide the visualization exercise allows individuals a keen and important insight into their work, the work of others, and how it all fits together. It creates a rare and needed opportunity to talk about which parts are essential to _their_ success and how it increases value for the business.
Visualization expands field of view
In organizations, individuals develop a field of view based on what they know, what they do. Combine that with high-pressure deadlines, outcomes, and specific ways performance is measured across business units, and sometimes the big picture fades into the background.
When individuals mistake their field of view for the big picture, the entire process suffers. Visualization is an important step to expand the field of view for everyone. Working together to capture the process improves mutual understanding and ensures people focus on the right steps to reach the goal.
The narrative that unfolds reveals current and future value across the entire system. It also offers insights on how to measure what matters (read more here). Seeing the complete picture is an effective way to avoid defining problems in terms of solutions (read more here).
Visualization is available to anyone and everyone
The requirements and tools are minimal. The process is important. The outcome is powerful.
Gather the right folks and use visualization to take friction out of communication. Create mutual understanding and focus everyone on the same goal.
Move the business forward and create more value.