“Sketch”y Business Principles Revealed!

Contrary to “best business practices” theory which always stresses starting a new business with a very specific focus, my new concept is admittedly “a bit” complex. Part of being a successful social entrepreneur is understanding that sometimes you just have to trust your gut and know when to break the rules ~ and, of course, when not to! My gut tells me that the concept came to me in its entirety for a reason.  After careful critical analysis, my mind has confirmed that my gut (and my heart) are right on track. I’m sticking with implementing the concept as envisioned. If you’ve been with me from the start, you were warned there would be a learning curve involved in understanding my vision…Let me just take a moment to thank you again for believing in me, following my progress, and offering advice and assistance when possible…

I trust that anyone following my progress knows that my intention is to run a business with a social and an environmental mission.  That fact is just a given… (Visiting for the first time? Read the About Me & My Mission page).  After a decade of volunteer work, I just wouldn’t be interested in (or comfortable) doing something that didn’t clearly benefit others. So, my concept is a bit complex… In order to meet my objectives, it needs to be… In fact, I’ve mentioned before that my vision truly comprises a hybrid of hybrids… And, I wasn’t kidding…

NEXT STEP: Sharing the Details…Well, as promised, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty, brass tacks, the nuts and bolts… I’m ready to share more about WHAT will actually happen at the brick & mortar location I’m planning…

With the description of the space, the reality of the hybrid-nature of the business begins: It’s a retail space, but not in the typical sense… It’s a creativity workshop, but so much more… It’s a coworking community space, but with a unique twist… It’s a recycling center, but not for basic recyclables… Are you still with me? Did I lose you yet? “Kind of… Sort of… Huh???”

Okay, deep breath… I’m going to break it down in a way that I hope will be easier to digest. Based on the premise that a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m going to switch to drawing mode, a very special type of sketch, if you will, valued not for its beauty but for its ability to convey my vision, a depiction of the space as I envision it…

Hold on… Before I share the “sketch” and before you think I’m completely crazy (that is if it’s not too late!), let me assure you that the concept of laying things out visually is something I’ve come across in my research.  Specifically I was drawn to the visual communication topic from the book The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam and the author’s blog: The Back of the Napkin Blog . A basic but powerful example described in a blog post describing one of Roam’s favorite napkin stories, this napkin depicts the founding concept behind Southwest Airlines as it was discussed by the founders (over a libation) back in 1967:

Southwest Airlines Concept - Napkin-Style

Southwest Airlines Concept - Napkin-Style

The idea of using sketches to convey a concept is intriguing to me as I am a visual person. (Ironically, this could explain why I attempt to describe things in such specific detail when writing.) Well, either I’m not so crazy or I’m not the only crazy person out there because Dan has shared his concept with, among many others, CNN, BusinessWeek and the folks at Google (who I think it’s safe to say are doing pretty well). The list goes on, particularly in Dan’s interviews category . He’s spoken with astronomers, Buddhist monks and even physicists about the wisdom and versatility of using visual images to convey a problem, a solution, a plan, a vision…

(NOTE: As I so often do when recommending a website, be forewarned if you choose to explore Dan Roam’s site, you might find time passing particularly quickly as you check out the back-of-the-napkin images and the blog posts.)

What’s all this drawing have to do with business? Only everything. In Dan Roam’s words:

It never fails: ask a CEO or COO to describe the way their business operates, and they will start with an org chart. Ask a CFO how their costs break down, and they will sketch a pie chart. Ask a CTO about their enterprise architecture and they will outline a flow chart. The fact is business people use visuals all the time to show what they do and how things work. This is true even of those who say, “I can’t draw anything”, and believe it themselves.

Another example, diagramming the need to communicate a new mission to Peet’s Coffee and Tea Company’s 3500 employees, here’s one back-of-the-napkin sketch featured in Dan’s book:

From Fastcompany.com post about Back-of-the-Napkin book

From Fastcompany.com post about Back-of-the-Napkin book

So, that’s the background (just so you know I’m not completely crazy) and here’s the plan… Over the next several posts, I’ll use my visual rendering to try to share my concept without writing a full-length dissertation… I’ll focus on the details of each specific area.  Have a question? Raise your hand (reply to the post, send me an email, whatever…) If you are wondering, so is someone else!!!

Now for the DRUMROLL: Here’s my back-of-the-napkin illustrating my space as I envision it:  …

Vision of Space Layout - Napkin-Style

Vision of Space Layout - Napkin-Style

What’s going to happen in each of the different areas from my napkin????  Ah, you’ll just have to wait for the next post to find out!

Until then, Nancy

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2 responses to ““Sketch”y Business Principles Revealed!

  1. Pingback: Bookmarks about Clouds

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