Friday, June 22, 2012

Planning: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words - Getting Your Vision Across

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Do you use Charts, Graphs, Slideshows, Progressive Schematics, PowerPoint Presentations, Video Animations, Virtual Tours, inspiring pictures of goal attainment and other visual aids in order to share your vision with your project or management teams? How do you denote phases, progress steps, sub goal attainment? Do you do it metaphorically... with illustrations of pyramids, thermometers, passing of a torch, jigsaw puzzles in various stages of completion?

Pictures make deeper, richer, more impressive and lasting impressions than words do. They engage more of the senses at a more primitive, receptive level than articulating plans in speech or by elaborate plan documentation. Visualization motivates action more powerfully and more precisely than words do.

Have you ever noticed that when people don't understand what you are speaking about, they tend to scratch their heads (or nod them) and say, "I just can't see it?"

People are naturally intimidated by thick reams of documentation. They like things simplified, and the popular belief is that graphics (pictures) are "simpler". They are actually not. It just happens that the holographic mental snapshot of a picture is more rapidly and accurately preserved. Organizational charts are good, graphs are nice, but a pictorial example is the best picture. And even the words embedded in a picture tend to be easier to remember (either consciously or subliminally) than are words on a printed page.

The best part of quality graphics is that they are constantly present in an individual's mind during his or her performance of a task. Especially pictures that evoke motion -- things like getting to the top of a pyramid, breaking the ribbon at the finish line, rescuing the damsel in distress tied to the railroad tracks, getting that hole-in-one on a beautiful spring afternoon, the sound of applause as the old-fashioned VU meters fly over to the left, playing a game of strip poker in a coed college dorm -- and winning!

Egads ... action pictures combined with the power of enlivening imagination can indeed be provocative -- er, ah, -- invigorating.

Use them as presentation and management tools. You won't be disappointed.

As a final note, try to avoid those "inspiration posters" that have proliferated like dust mites around the workplace -- you know, the ones that have pictures of eagles flying, and horses pulling a cart and talk about teamwork and leadership. I'd rather see either spray painted graffiti or the occasional Picasso than one of those darned inspirational posters talking about accident safety or labelled "Our Customers..."

Douglas E. Castle for The Business And Project Planning And Management Blog

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