A few years ago, Karen and I went to a workshop down in Silicon Valley called “Slideology” put on by Duarte Creative Design. They have a simple and wonderful process for putting together a keynote presentation, or any other kind of presentation for that matter; it’s a compact “analog” system using sticky notes and story boards and it works pretty well at capturing and synthesizing your main ideas and mapping out your points and the emotional impacts you want to have.
I remember happily putting my post-its down in the boxes and building my story board up when it was time to break for lunch. Karen and I claimed a spot in the lunch area and settled down to our sandwich and chips when a guy came up to join us. He had hopped around Silicon Valley from tech giant to starting his own biz to tech giant to tech giant.
He asked us what we do and we told him we were into coaching, he asked “what like sports coaching?” and we steered him to the kind of coaching we do. We asked him what he does and he said he was a “strategist” for the company that he works in and that he was here to beef up his presentations and to make them more interesting and, dare I say it, entertaining. The more we talked the more interested he became in coaching and leadership and the more I began to muse on “Strategist”.
I started to realize that strategists and strategies fit into the same category that economists and economies fit into and that often things like budgets and plans fit into. They are all Fiction. I started to giggle a bit inside as I really started to realize that these folks who do these very “serious and real” things are really working from the same imagination that I work from when I create a design for a workshop or write a story or act in a play. They are imagining the future and putting it into graphs and charts and spreadsheets that look like they are real and that can create hope or despair, risk or safety, excitement or boredom depending on the strategy.
So if I am creating a strategy, which I am going to do later today, I must consider the following:
- Who am I taking care of and what do I want people to think and feel now and when I reach the endgame?
- Do I try to do a “realistic” strategy or do I work on a “jump off the cliff” strategy?
- Do I go for a “simple” strategy or a “complex” one?
- What are the emotional elements that I am seeking when I create a strategy?
- Am I looking for elements that please me or others in the present or are they ones that I think will work in the future? Or somehow both?
- Am I looking for the strategy that will be “the easiest” for everyone concerned or am I looking for a strategy that my creative artist thinks is most likely to produce the desired impact and damn the costs and complexities?
So many possibilities, all fiction, all completely made up and imagined.
We need to keep writing the story. We need to keep creating our universe AND we need to know that while we are busy making things up, making plans, creating strategies, developing budgets and economies, that the universe has its own story that it is making up too and that is going to guarantee many surprises to the story we are writing.
There will be many interesting twists and turns in the road that we made up being straight. We have to dance down that twisty road writing the new story as we dance and jump.
Henry Kimsey-House is the co-author of Co-Active Leadership and Co-Active Coaching. He is the co-founder of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) where he currently serves as Lead Designer. Learn more about Henry's work or connect with him on Twitter: @henrykh