This is the way I’ve always taken notes. In college, I could symbolize the entire content of an hour-long lecture on paper, while I listened, so forever after I could recall all or most of it just from glancing at the notes. I gave the same format to clients to use when they were sitting all alone with nothing more than a pencil and a big sheet of paper, visualizing every aspect of their business operations to arrive at solutions for communication tasks they had to accomplish.
I was surprised to see charts very similar to this in an article about teaching creative planning processes to groups of management personnel, offered by IDEO. Not surprised to imagine that my approach is uniquely mine, but surprised that IDEO made such a huge deal of teaching people how to make such elaborate charts, color and all, for trumped-up situations. That’s pseudo art class for people like my friend Jane, who used to feel like crying when it was time to pull out the crayons. It’s a waste of business time and money.
Normal people have to see it once and get the idea to put into practice their own ways. Of course, then it has to be a freebie – not a $$$ management seminar.
The point of making planning charts isn’t chart making — it’s to get an overview of the elements and issues that comprise a real situation now and to figure where changes can be made and how changes to one part will affect the overall look of the situation.
The revelation for my clients was that their conventional business and marketing plans were no help to them because the plans weren’t structured to reflect the way their businesses actually worked. After all the time that went into typing up the plans in outline formats, the plans went into file cabinets never to be seen again.
The IDEO approach reminded me of teaching sentence diagramming in English classes. Predictably, the kids got so wound up in how and where to draw the lines that the entire explanatory function of the diagram was lost. Their essays remained clumsy and ungrammatical because they thought sentence construction applied only in the diagramming unit.