We Want Linear, We Get Billy from The Family Circus

Closure, the word that represents the neat little bow on the package that we want as the end stage of all of life’s little problems.  This happened, these suggestions were made, this action was taken and issue was wonderfully and completely resolved, the end.  Put forth in a single hour, 42ish minutes allowing for commercial breaks – wait a minute, that’s a TV drama.

We are complex creatures and we live in a busy, noisy world so it is no wonder that we crave clear cut, simple, straightforward story lines in our lives.  If it did work that way though, we would no doubt get pretty bored.  Even those of us who don’t care for math can respect the beauty that 2+2=4 every single time, regardless of the format – horizontal or vertical – or the font that we use to type it.  Ahhh, beauty in simplicity.

My Timeline

For years we tried to figure out one way or another to create a linear training process in a very complicated business model.  Build a tower with these idea blocks that relate to each other – but wait, we can’t put this next one on until we go off on this tangent and build a bridge to a nearby tower.  Oops, then we need basement access to these underlying theories.  And, bang, the new person’s eyes are starting to glaze over.

So we decided to tell the story through self-contained tasks that would help the new person to feel valuable right away and also get their feet wet with our process.  This was much more successful, but time consuming and eventually we would get to the tangle of all the interconnected theories and process.  Billy would tramp through and take us on his circuitous route.

Now, I love Billy and I like nothing more than to trace his progress through the neighborhood with my finger, especially in the colored Sunday comics.  But I also know that with a deep understanding of process, I can keep the main theme in mind as I follow the detour.  Because I know the main theme well.

How to communicate this to someone with a different thought and work method, though?  How to do it for a group of people, all with potentially varied work methods and thinking methods?  (Thankfully there are only so many methods and combinations!)

Call out core and ancillary aspects by name, use graphs and charts when you can.  I adore flow charts – which really is a mode of taking Billy’s meanderings and giving them structure.  Don’t get too dry, try to keep at least a hint of Billy’s whimsy.

(My compliments to Bill Keane, creator of Billy and The Family Circus cartoon.  We all learned about flow whether we realized it or not.)

© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations

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3 Comments

Filed under Work Life, Work Smarter

3 responses to “We Want Linear, We Get Billy from The Family Circus

  1. Great post – and a nice way to illustrate your point!

  2. Pingback: Separating Out Thought Strands for Clarity | Practical Business

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