Here’s a field report from strategist and graphic facilitator Bruce Flye, on visualizing and developing leadership in the dynamic and chaotic ecosystem in which the Brody School of Medicine operates.
quoteIn recent months a senior leadership team in the Brody School of Medicine has been grappling with a complicated organizational issue of major import.  …  We’re getting the most benefit through conversations that the Dean has with individuals and small groups. As he engages others in studying the graphic, time slows down, and we consistently see a transition from mild confusion to engaged curiosity.  … 

Click on the graphic to expand 2x …Microsoft PowerPoint - ENC County Locational Map (2) [CompatibilquoteIn recent months a senior leadership team in the Brody School of Medicine has been grappling with a complicated organizational issue of major import.

In a particularly difficult meeting it was suggested to the Dean that he has a clearer picture of the eventual outcome than the rest of us do, and he should “get it on the table” along with the usual facts and figures that drive the conversations. He was also asked to have a drawing made of it.

He and I planned a couple of dates to work together on a drawing in my basement office. I cleaned off my whiteboard and decided how I might graphically capture and organize what he would share with me. I also had lots of questions posted on the assumption that I would help pull the vision out of him.

Some of us never learn.

Whiteboard 2

For that first meeting he came in with a wad of papers under one arm and a handful of Leadership Metaphor Explorer cards in the other. He was ready to go, and began what was almost a nonstop monologue describing what he’s seeing as the future of the school. As he went along we taped up papers, and then a few cards, and then I’d write and draw; we repeated that cycle over and over. He talked as I listened and gave up all hope for any kind of orderliness on this first round.

Whiteboard 1

After he left I immediately put everything in bullet form and sent it to him for review. I wanted to capture the details while they were fresh for both of us, and while I could still read my highspeed handwriting. Then I started putting a graphic together, working on a 4 x 8 sheet of paper. Confident in my grasp of what goes on here, I filled in any gaps I saw. Bad idea.

When he came back for the second session, he studied the draft intently and then said softly “Well, it’s a good start.” With this man, that qualifies as a rant! He again talked extensively and I only listened and captured his additional offerings. In the subsequent version shown here, I worked in the computer so I could easily use the LME images and, more importantly, work in multiple iterations. I stripped out all of the “gap repair” that I had added to the first version, and worked strictly with his comments, observations and card selections.

We also agreed on two parameters: that the final product should be sketch quality as opposed to slick, and that it need not be self-explanatory. (See the high res image at the top of this post.)

I had the misfortune to miss the next team meeting when he presented A Dynamic Ecosystem. One of the group members asked for a narrative version, and one has since been completed. What we’re finding, however, is that the written narrative is not getting much attention; for one reason, it’s very long.

Instead, we’re getting the most benefit through conversations that the Dean has with individuals and small groups. As he engages others in studying the graphic, time slows down, and we consistently see a transition from mild confusion to engaged curiosity. The Dean’s image of things is emerging, and it is constantly improved as others make new discoveries and observations.”

Bruce Flye

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