At The Grove we are officially launching Visual Leaders today. This means that Amazon is shipping; it's in the stores at Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million. And one person wrote from Canada that he saw it in Toronto in its "World's Biggest Bookstore." Richard Narramore, my Wiley editor, writes that he's already let a contract for a Chinese translation. The process is a bit like having a baby. In between the nine months gestation and a life time of living with the result is this one moment in time. Print is static. Life is dynamic. One has to imagine all this, whether reading words or looking at pictures. This image from a Nike meeting captures a bit of this feeling. Can you see the book as a satellite orbiting a fluid environment of issues and challenges? So the book is now in orbit—but what does that mean?
I have some hopes in this regard. Book three was written for leaders and managers, not visual practitioners. It's so important that leaders in our time have the tools to support real systems thinking. Here's the challenge. Most public businesses run on three month cycles wherein they work to make their results good enough to impress Wall Street. Non-profits work either hand to mouth on yearly grant cycles. Most CEO's are on three-year tenures (on average). Government runs on two year and four years cycles. Planning horizons are rarely more than 5 years. Yet most of the issues that will have the biggest impact on my grandchildren are operating on much longer cycles.
The challenges of global warming and peak oil have been identified for several decades. Paul Hawkens in his book The Next Economy, sees 1973 and the oil embargos as the threshold when design came to trump cheap resources as a competitive advantage, since less will have to be more in the coming years. He published in 1983. That's 30 years ago! How many times have you been in planning sessions that have this kind of time horizon?
The advantage of mapping and diagramming and tracking data visually is literally being able to see some of these big patterns. But is that enough?
By good friend Bob Horn and I were thinking about all this yesterday as I shared the new book. He's been applying his MacroVu mapping to the challenge of global warming, identifying the "must haves" to take us to sustainability in the year 2050. I've heard blow-by-blow how hard it is to get anyone to focus at this scale, but he's making slow progress. Yet he came back from Rio wondering why the environmental movement has no song and no rituals and celebrations. I heard another fellow from Yale on Moyer's & Company talking about how there is no "issues constituency" around global warming. People who are concerned feel isolated. It's too big to think about!
As the Visual Leadership series of books is now complete, I’m appreciating that methodology alone is not enough, as useful as it might be. We all need to consider what we are aiming to achieve with better methods.
Having sent a good part of December with most of Susan and my seven grandchildren and our four children, it’s increasingly clear that I care most about having the world they live into be a hopeful one that is making progress on the big issues. I’m Chairman of the Board of the Coro Northern California Center, an organization where I first connected with leadership development in my eight years on staff in the 1970s. We are entering into a Coro 2020 planning process to see how we can increase the ability of leaders being innovative in these times. It will be a context where I can take responsibility for actually implementing some of the ideas in Visual Leaders. The book will stay in orbit for a while. In the meantime results need to come from connecting its ideas with my own ground of being. That is my new year’s resolution.
I’m hoping to also engage in dialogue with those of you who get these books and want to explore their implications. We don’t have a formal web site yet, but do have a Facebook site (The Grove Consultants) where I’d love to answer questions. If you comment here I will also respond. If you get the book and have time to post a review on Amazon that would also be appreciated.
In any event. Best wishes for this year!