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Posts tagged ‘Idea for reflection’

Imagining new maps

How do we create the maps that we use to navigate everything from the work environment to our relationships to the grocery store? What happens when change, either gradual or catastrophic, requires us to re-imagine our maps? These questions re-emerged as I began with reflecting on a blog post by Shirley Showalter, writing about memoir and walking in the city.

And, the questions appeared in recent conversations with leaders. The conversations about navigating organizational waters roiled by the economy, a new generation of workers, and shifts in how people communicate and connect. Thomas Friedman’s recent column asks us to re-imagine the map we call leadership, “The role of the leader now is to get the best of what is coming up from below and then meld it with a vision from above.”

So here, to stimulate your map-making imagination, is an excerpt from The BFG, by Roald Dahl:

In the leading machine the Head of the Air Force was sitting beside the pilot. He had a world atlas on his knees and he kept staring first at the atlas, then at the ground below, trying to figure out where they were going. Frantically he turned the pages of the atlas.

‘Where the devil are we going?’ he cried.

‘I haven’t the foggiest idea,’ the pilot answered. ‘The Queen’s orders were to follow the giant and that’s exactly what I’m doing.’

The pilot was a young Air Force officer with a bushy moustache. He was very proud of his moustache. He was also quite fearless and he loved adventure. He thought this was a super adventure. ‘It’s fun going to new places,’ he said.

‘New places!’ shouted the Head of the Air Force. ‘What the blazes d’you mean new places?’

‘This place we’re flying over now isn’t in the atlas, is it?’ the pilot said, grinning.

‘You’re darn right it isn’t in the atlas!’ cried the Head of the Air Force. ‘We’ve flown clear off the last page!’

‘I expect that old giant knows where he’s going,’ the young pilot said.

‘He’s leading us to disaster!’ cried the Head of the Air Force. He was shaking with fear. In the seat behind him sat the Head of the Army who was even more terrified.

‘You don’t mean to tell me we’ve gone right out of the atlas?’ he cried, leaning forward to look.

‘That’s exactly what I’m telling you!’ cried the Air Force man. ‘Look for yourself. Here’s the very last map in the whole flaming atlas! We went off that over an hour ago!’ He turned the page. As in all atlases, there were two completely blank pages at the very end. ‘So now we must be somewhere here,’ he said, putting a finger on one of the blank pages.

‘Where’s here?’ cried the Head of the Army.

The young pilot was still grinning broadly. He said to them, ‘That’s why they always put two blank pages at the back of the atlas. They’re for new countries. You’re meant to fill them in yourself.’

Where is your organization in uncharted waters? Is the way you lead changing?

a look AT the windshield
Turning off the autopilot

a look AT the windshield

While I was driving down the road in the rain, wipers running at top speed, peering beyond the vehicle to the street and traffic, I came to a stop. The stop was both literal – at the stop sign – and figurative  – a mental stop sign.

The mental “stop sign” was part of an ongoing thought process from earlier today. This morning, I was having a conversation about organizational change and how to introduce change models to a leadership team. Another person in the conversation asked, “What would be a good metaphor for introducing a change model?”

Two hours later, driving through pouring rain, this presented itself: When I’m driving I see through the windshield. I use a windshield every day, but how often do I stop to think about the windshield itself?

One metaphor for a change model is a windshield. The windshield is allows us to drive safely in challenging weather conditions, protects us from bugs and thrown rocks. It also allows passengers to see clearly and ride in safety. Like the windshield, organizations and individuals have belief systems that allow us to “drive through” life experiences without thinking about the belief system or mental model.

Consider the windshield …. In the same way, a change model offers a “windshield” experience. It offers a mechanism for viewing the world. It offers a way to navigate the landscape ahead. And, just as windshield systems come with wipers and wiper fluid, change models include tools to navigate landscapes altered by adverse conditions and reduced visibility.

If you are an organization leader, I encourage you to get to reflect on the belief system and mental model that you use to navigate your world. Then I challenge you to research at least one new change model. As organizations face ongoing, discontinuous change, this is the equivalent of cleaning your windshield of bugs and dirt, topping off the windshield wiper fluid, and buying new wipers.

What is your preferred change model?

Our Maps of the World
The Dragon Next Door

Holy curiosity

The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one  tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
Albert Einstein

Idea for reflection -32

Idea for reflection – 32

I am enough of an artist
to draw freely upon my imagination.

Imagination is more important
than knowledge.

Knowledge is limited.
Imagination encircles the world.
Albert Einstein

Improving your brainstorming sessions

Stories we tell – four

We are defined by our stories, which continually form us and make us vital and give us hope. Stories teach and preserve traditions and practices and policies and values. I don’t know many people who prefer a manual to a myth.
– Max DePree, from Leading without Power

Stories we tell – three


Spontaneity is not precluded by preparation.
Alexandre Buisse

Idea for reflection – 31

Idea for reflection – 31

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.
   – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Through the window
Idea for reflection – 30

Through the window

The window has forty
panes, forty clarities
variously wrinkled, streaked
with dried rain, smudged,

The window is a form
of consciousness, pattern
of formed sense
through which to look
into the wild
that is a pattern too,
bearing along the
shapes of the mind

The windy day
on one of the panes
a blown seed, caught
in a cobweb, beats and beats.

  – Wendell Berry, excerpted from Window Poems 3

Idea for reflection – 30
Can imagination be taught?

Do what I say – not what I do

If you’re not modeling what you’re teaching,
then you’re teaching something else.
  – Roger Schwarz, The Skilled Facilitator

 Idea for reflection – 29

There is nothing so useless …

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
  – Peter Drucker

Planning is not an event
The unexpected snowman

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