Realization (ExPLORE Part Five)


This is the fifth leg of a six-part journey through ExPLORE℠, our powerful, proprietary Expedition framework. ExPLORE℠ blends time-honored principles with historical planning models and methods of Great Explorers to help organizations thrive in their bold endeavors.

Realization is the fifth step in our methodology. Explorers have a goal, a desired discovery— the result of their pursuit. This destination is Realization. It is planting the flag at the North Pole. It is the point at which the Explorer knows they’ve achieved the objective.

But how does a Realization get realized? How does the Explorer know when they’ve arrived if they’ve never seen the destination before? This is where we have to take a quick review of the ExPLORE℠ methodology and revisit Expectation, the E in our acronym.

In our modern world with Google Street View, let’s recall how it used to be. The Explorer had to construct the Expectation by telling stories and showing drawings to capture the imagination of their audience. This is so critical I’ll repeat it. They had to construct their Expectation with imagination. For you science majors, this is simply a creative spin on “hypothesis.”

It is important to note that most often it’s the Commissioner, not the Explorer, who defines a desired objective. For today’s businesses and organizations (we call them Commissioners) this objective may be a new department, a new product or a new vision that catapults the business into a totally new era.

But sometimes the Commissioner doesn’t know exactly what they expect. In fact, all they really have is some kind of undefined hope for a yet to be defined realization. Problem? Not at all. This is where the Explorer constructs the Expectation with imagination.

Real estate developers are among the fascinating Explorers I have occasion to observe. Yes, real estate developers. They construct Expectation with imagination.

For a number of years I've attended the annual gathering of the Urban Land Institute of Michigan, held in places like Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids. Each time I've heard stories of places that are yet to be— places not yet Realized.

A few years ago I heard Toni Griffin who was working with the city of Detroit creating a new master plan for the city. She talked about their vision for parks, neighborhoods, commercial and residential districts in the city. She described their hopes and dreams, delivering them in such an imaginative way that we could easily envision the hoped-for result.

Another time a developer was describing a project in Grand Rapids. It was presented with such vivid clarity through stories, pictures and a crisp financing plan, you would've thought the project was already done.

A real estate developer sees on a parcel of dirt what isn’t there yet. They imagine the buildings that are to be built and the potential productivity of the land. They paint a picture and tell a story so that investors and buyers will see what they see, even though it hasn’t been realized yet.

Imagination is the starting point for the dream. Sure, there’s plenty to worry about in the imagining. There is certainly uncertainty! The hallmark of the Explorer is an adaptability to a realization that might not reflect the imagined one. If the Explorer reaches the point of desired discovery, it may look just like what was imagined. Or it may be bigger. Or smaller. Or different. Either way, you can plant the flag. The journey of Exploration, even with all its uncertainty, is complete.

Seth Godin brilliantly describes the uncertainty of an Expedition.

"It’s all a mistake… until it works. That's what innovation is. Mistakes, experiments, mis-steps. Until it works. The process isn't to avoid the things that don't work. Because that means avoiding the things that might not work…. Instead, our job is to eagerly embrace the mistakes on the road to the impact that we seek."

Realization is a declaration of victory. It’s when the entire journey’s learning comes together in one place or situation. Mistakes have been made, failures endured, successes have occurred and it has all been toward the Realization.

What are your hopes? What is your Expectation? Are you ready to begin imagining it? If you are, a Realization is not far off.

Realization is the goal. But is that the end? Evaluation will tell you. It’s the final E of the ExPLORE methodology, next, part six.


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