Remember Kindergarten, when our days were filled with nap mats, art projects, big letters and flash cards? Life was simpler then, wasn't it? Teachers taught us new things through drawings, we made pictures of the things in our lives like our families, our pets, our vacations or, in my case, the fire station.
While we've matured into adulthood and our intellect is full of new and interesting details our five-year-old selves could not have imagined....one thing has not changed - our ability to learn through visualization.
Aristotle said, "The soul never thinks without a picture". At my company, we take this to heart. Clients come to us for guidance in creating and implementing new strategies. The challenge in most cases is executives don't know how to get employees on board and engaged in the process. This is where the power of learning through visualization comes in.
When change happens in any organization, fear and uncertainty rise to the top. Employees wonder what will happen to them, where they fit in and why they should care about this new direction. Leaders need to listen, show employees how they are a critical part of the process and join them in the march towards the new initiative. This becomes immensely easier when you have an actual big picture to show them.
Seeing the big picture helps people accomplish two important things:
1. Establishing Common Mental Model
Any two people can interpret familiar words and phrases vastly differently. A core objective may seem clear, but the head of sales and the customer service agent may interpret it in different ways. However, if we can draw a picture of it - and actually show the shared meaning - we can create a common mental model that better aligns the people and teams involved. A shared understanding streamlines how they will work together to meet the end goal, as well as the likelihood of success.
2. Understanding the System
Most complex things in life are systems. Strategies are systems, the human body is a system, and finance is a system. In any system, a lot of people sit on the bench and never get into the game. But if we can create a visual of the whole system - showing how everything fits together, including the small and large details - people can better understand the game and how they fit into it. With that understanding comes the motivation to engage and execute.
Through visualization, we can draw out the opinions, attitudes and beliefs of everyone involved in a given initiative. This leads to collaboration, empathy and teamwork aimed at achieving a shared goal. To see is to understand and believe. Try appealing to your people's visual sense and check out what happens!