After doing this work for over 10 years, at Alchemy and in my own work with clients, I get this question all the time. What is the ROI on a process like this? Simply put, when people in an organization help to create a visual image of their work and what matters to them, they develop a whole new sense of purpose, interest and focus. Quite simply, they get engaged.
And what happens when people are engaged? In blog from the Harvard Business Review last year called New Research: How Employee Engagement Hits the Bottom Line, the author, Tony Schwartz (November 2012; HBR Blog Network) features a Towers Watson Global Study report that found that of the 50 global companies surveyed, “companies with low engagement scores had an average operating margin just under 10 percent. Those with high traditional engagement had a slightly higher margin of 14 percent. Companies with the highest “sustainable engagement” scores had an average one-year operating margin of 27 percent.”
With almost 70% of today’s workforce somewhat disengaged or completely disengaged from their work (State of the American Workplace: Employment Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders, Gallup 2013) – quality and sustained performance that leads to financial results is eroding. Gallup argues that managers in the lead are largely the culprit – so when a business leader has a new and productive way to engage their employees – like a visual strategy session – employees see things differently.
If you want better results, people need to be engaged. With tight budgets, we lack the resources to go person by person in a small or large company and figure out what makes them tick – or how to get them engaged. Strategies like strategic illustration engage everyone and support new ways of thinking and doing. In my experience, when people are aligned around their work and they understand and see the value they produce – they are motivated, inspired and willing to do almost anything. This ROI is like gold for any business or organization – something precious to cultivate, invest in and grow.
In practical terms – how can just anyone in any company do this? First of all – get the idea out of your head that you need a professional artist in the room to do the work. With a little practice, a lot of listening and courage – you actually can try and see the results – I don’t think you will be disappointed.
What’s the up front in vestment? Courage, time in planning, a few colored pens, flip charts and tape, — this allows you to apply the three simple principles in my book and make it work almost overnight.
At the end of the day – Its fun – to work together, differently. The perceived risk in working in new ways is shared by the leader and their team. This makes it easier for people on your team to offer non-traditional solutions to persistent problems. When you draw and question together, a sense of camaraderie is created – almost like a conspiracy to be successful. And, people see what they think and it makes sense to them and to each other. This “whole system” approach effectively translates good ideas into strategy and that strategy drives you toward action.
About Chris Chopyak:
Chris is the author of Picture Your Business Strategy: Transform Decisions with the Power of Visuals (McGraw-Hill Professional), a go-to-resource for how to plan and execute great business ideas. Using strategic illustration and three simple design principles, Chris inspires the use of pictures, words and metaphors to realize business ideas and address challenges.