The Exploration Group was on an expedition for which there was no map. While this scenario is not uncommon, the client's question is always the same. How do we proceed? We make a map.
Organizational cartography begins with locating the landmarks. In a sense these landmarks are identifiable points in a yet-to-be-known universe. We're not yet sure how these landmarks will connect. Are they related, unrelated or in a different dimension altogether?
In this Expedition here are some of the landmarks we saw:
• A founder in a state of transition. Unrealized by him, but realized by those around him. • An investor who is sorting out their processes and direction. • Staff who are sending mixed messages to the general public. • A message that easily becomes politicized.
In total, The Exploration Group identified 17 potential landmarks. We then studied them and identify their characteristics and potential relationships over time and in context.
Next we began plotting the landmarks to determine how they relate to one another. From this, a path forward was identified. Past experience shows us that this process can take from several days to multiple years to complete. There are the known markers and there are hidden markers. Like rocks under the sea, the hidden markers may be the biggest influence of all, directing the current of the sea, yet unseen.
Hidden landmarks often do not appear until the journey begins. Sometimes they are hidden because they're below the surface. Other times they are hidden above the surface— they are unnoticed or unrealized.
Within an organization these hidden landmarks may be historical decisions that have been made— decisions that no one remembers but continue to shape processes today. It became encoded into the plan, but is perhaps no longer needed. From the outside there are market changes or emerging trends. In each case these influences may start like a small wave that turns into a tsunami of force.
What are the considerations when there is no map?
1. Identify landmarks.
2. Check the way the wind is blowing. (See if that's the way to go or not go) 3. Determine if this is really uncharted territory. I could be simply a small canyon that has not been found, yet surrounded by lots of known reality. 4. Keep track of what you are learning. You never know what might turn out to be important.