Saturday, March 12, 2011

Imagined Conversation*

Guy in Charge [G]: Every single thing about our company is broken and I don’t know how to fix it.
Me [M]: Care for some advice?
[G]: I s’pose it couldn’t hurt.
[M]: I’m happy to give you my best guess as to what you need to do.
[G]: Well, I have fifteen – make that fourteen – minutes.
[M]: Okay then. Here goes. All good companies make tactical adjustments all the time to keep on track. But they have to have good tracks in the first place...
[G]: Huh? Could you be more cryptic?
[M]: Let me rephrase that. You undoubtedly need to make changes to your systems or processes to start heading in the right direction. Based on what you've told me before, though, I’m also willing to bet that the foundations of your business, the fundamental ways in which you and your team approach things, could use some shoring up. That's what I'm most interested in and where I can help.
[G]: Alright…
[M]: Le’ me ask you: How do you go about focusing on the quality of how your whole business operates as a system?** 
[G]: I’m not sure what you mean.
[M]: The most successful companies, it seems to me, cover all the bases. They stay on top of and adequately address everything that matters. They improve continually. And they do these things systematically.
[G]: You're talking about Fortune 500 companies?
[M]: Not only. Your company could do the same. I’d like to explore that possibility with you.
[G]: (Half nod in agreement)
[M]: May I show you something I’ve been working on? It’s not finished; there are some things I like about it and some things I don’t…
[G]: What is it?
[M]: I can't decide what to call it: a structural bookwork?*** a movable book? It uses paper engineering and specialty printing techniques. It's meant to be interactive and interesting to look at. For now, it represents the best way I can think of to facilitate the kinds of conversations I want to have with managers.
[G]: Go ahead and lay it on me. We have ten minutes. 
[M]: Cool. Say, do remember those paper fortune teller thingamajigs from when we were kids?

Top: view of the inside of my structural bookwork. Underneath (clockwise from upper left): paper fortune teller, scratch-off game card, pop-up cube (it's rubber band activated!) and wheel chart. Other fun components used but not pictured: magic window shade and circular pages hinged together in unexpected ways.

*based on actual conversations
**borrowed phrase from Chuck Cobb
***To see amazing and inspiring examples of structural bookworks and the like, check out book artist Julie Chen's portfolio at: -- or pop-up book master Robert Sabuda's site:

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