Creating A Shared Vision Through Toast

Some organisations do things differently and they stand out although not always in a good way.

One organisation that does stand out for positive reasons is the Norwegian aluminium plant Norsk Hydro ASA.

Hydro is a fully integrated aluminium company with 35,000 employees in 40 countries. Rooted in more than a century of experience in renewable energy, technology and innovation.

They spent two years creating a shared vision and they had someone to help them, an organisational consultant called Marjorie Parker.

This was a unique way of doing things because every employee was given the opportunity to contribute their personal version for the organisation by sketching it. The idea was then to link these images together into a final vision statement.

So Hydro didn’t have a written statement but an extraordinary mural painted by a local artist in which every plant and element had a powerful meaning.

Drawing mission statements is something few organisations do but they can be powerful ways to get our thoughts out in the open.

Think it won’t work? It needs some ground rules and a mindset so following what Long (2013) suggests when describing collaborative sketching (design charrettes):

  1. Engage with an open mind
  2. Check your ego at the door
  3. Leave your preconceptions behind
  4. Listen, then respond
  5. Acknowledge the contributions of others
  6. All ideas have value
  7. Begin with the end in mind
  8. Ensure the problem that brought you all together is better understood when you part

As Kristine van der Pas-Norenius (2017) says in her strategic planning blog:

Unleash the inner artists in each member of your group, grab the crayons and enjoy that wonderful feeling of sharing the same dream.

But sharing the same dream doesn’t look the same and this goes beyond what Parker achieved.

What we need is toast!

I think what Tom Wujec has to say on drawing and visualising is well worth a share and he shows how such a simple activity as drawing how to make toast can be represented in so many and confusing ways but with remarkable outcomes. He says:

In just 3 minutes, each person sketches a diagram of how to make toast. When comparing diagrams, people are shocked at how diverse the diagrams are, revealing a wide range of models of what’s important in making toast. It’s a great launch pad for drawing out what’s really important to the group.

Try this with your own staff!

Go the Draw Toast website to find out more about systems thinking and problem solving. He says,

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