Zoom Out

I was kindly invited to be a guest writer at GodbeyWorks this week. Here is the article...

In addition to our regular columnists, we offer other members of our community a chance to voice their thoughts as well. Now, when faced with your next Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), remember to zoom out. Draw big. Map out relationships and connections. ~Rob Godbey
Photo: 1917 SPAD XIIIc.I from the Owls Head Transportation Museum, http://www.ohtm.org/
[Photo: 1917 SPAD XIIIc.I from the Owls Head Transportation Museum, http://www.ohtm.org]

Zoom Out
by Peter Durand

Imagine the experience of the first generation of pilots.

Wedged into those wacky machines belching greasy smoke, with wings of shellacked canvas, bound together by tension wires, straining poles and hope.

Ah, but the view!

As the elevation increased, the individual structures of barns and airplane hangers receded to reveal vast networks: canal systems, topographic complexity, patchworks of natural and artificial boundaries etched into the skin of the earth.

This, my friends, is the 20,000-foot view sited so often in boardrooms and consulting documents; it is the elevation that explodes the perception of “seperateness” and “silos” as mere texture in the rich tapestry of the earth.

Now, imagine being that early pilot coming back to earth. Imagine their frustration when explaining to the farmers and truck drivers and milkmaids the wonder of seeing all that connected complexity. (How easy and elegant it looked!) Then, those pilots had to walk home. Uphill. In the snow.

topology photo: Peter Durand

[photo: Peter Durand]

This is the experience that may be shared by many of us in our own work.

As individuals and small groups––with help from research, collaboration, imagination––we’ve caught a glimpse of that futurescape, the possible horizons, the beauty and complexity that knits all the manic activities together.

So, what is essential in sharing the vision with others, those farmers, trucker drivers, milk maids, executives, board members?

It is a map to go along with the story.

This requires a tiny bit of work and ingenuity. Mostly, it requires moving away from the linear and becoming comfortable with the non-linear, away from the bullet-point list and towards systems thinking.

As a graphically minded visual learner myself, I have to admit full-disclosure: I can’t work any other way now!

I mean, after those early flights, when the topography of the countryside was revealed to the pilots’ eyes, well, after that, there’s no going back.

Now, when faced with your next Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), remember to zoom out. Draw big. Map out relationships and connections. Examine the whole topography of the situation.

Take that flight. And, this time, bring along some passengers.

Photo: Team members map out issues. Credit: Peter DurandReferences

You Are Here
by Katharine Harmon Amazon

Else/Where: Mapping—New Cartographies of Networks and Territories
by Janet Abrams and Peter Hall — Amazon

The Mind Map Book
by Tony Buzan and Barry Buzan — Amazon

Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative
by Edward R. Tufte — Amazon

Peter Durand is a graphic facilitator who runs his business Alphachimp Studio, Inc. from Pittsburgh. You can learn more about Peter and his work, and find more of his writing on his Website.

[Photo: Team members map out issues. Credit: Peter Durand]