Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Visioning® in Business

Learning from the Masters

My original career was in art and design (Mattel, Hallmark were my clients). In my second and third careers as art therapist and author, I worked for Disney as a corporate consultant. While doing management training and talent development with theme park designers at Disney Imagineering for ten years, I stood back and observed the design process in a way I never did while actually designing products. It was the opportunity of a lifetime: watching the Imagineers work their magic. We introduced Visioning® collage work for personal and team goal-setting, a technique I was already using with my private art therapy clients. The Imagineers ate it up with a spoon. Working with one of my co-authors, the late Peggy Van Pelt, we saw the staff's creativity and skills in innovation increase many times over. It was a privilege and honor to be around this amazing brain trust of world-class talent. Some of the Imagineers I knew actually worked directly with Walt and what stories they told!.

One of the most enjoyable experiences I had was sitting in on "blue sky" design sessions when Imagineers were brainstorming new theme park ideas. I felt very much at home because they did the same thing we do in Visioning®: putting images and words onto the walls without editing or critiquing the ideas. "The sky's the limit", was their attitude in these sessions. That's why they called it Blue Sky. In Visioning® that's the "grab what grabs you" phase of collecting images and words from magazines. Without worrying about practicality, feasibility, or affordability, we open our minds to think outside the box. The famous "box" we are trying to get outside of, the one we are trapped in, is really our old ways of doing of defining ourselves and of doing business.

If there ever was a time when we needed to get outside the old business box it is right now. There's not a moment to waste, collectively or individually. And change starts with each one of us. Innovation is no longer a luxury, something to think about or take a seminar in. These days, innovation spells the difference between surviving or capsizing.

In my book Visioning, I often quote the Imagineers and Disney himself. In fact, I live by his golden words: If you can dream it, you can do it! Walt should know. He innovated so many "impossible dreams," such as Snow White, the first feature length animated film (released in 1937). That was towards end of the Great Depression of the 30s. Things had been improving slowly yet steadily during the New Deal when Roosevelt put millions back to work on government funded projects (just as President Obama is doing). However, in 1937 the economy took a sudden downturn again. People got scared. Was the country headed for another total collapse?

From a rational, left-brain point of view, that would not have seemed a good time to introduce a new film genre. There were those who thought no one would sit through a long "cartoon" and that Walt was crazy. Well, "they" were wrong, and the rest is history. Snow White was a blockbuster, became a classic and paved the way for a whole new kind of film which became Walt Disney's gift to the world.

Another leap forward into a new form of entertainment was the first Disneyland, and all the theme parks that spun out of it. Walt's "focus phrase" (as we call it in Visioning®) was "to create a place where the whole family could have fun together." Financiers thought Walt was "madder than a hatter" when he approached them about investing in his new scheme. But he listened to his heart and forged ahead. With Herbie Ryman (art director of Fantasia) creating full color renderings of Main Street and other attractions in Walt's mind, they made their Vision boards. Then, in another stroke of genius, Walt borrowed the idea of "commercial sponsorship" used in television. Walt got Carnation, Dow Chemical and other companies to put up the money for sections of Disneyland. They used these stores and attractions as advertising for their firms. Now that is creativity in business.

I take tips from the masters of innovation. They all say the same thing. Listen to your heart! (Step 1 of Visioning®). Think outside the box (Step 2 of Visioning®) and the way will be clear, the clouds will move aside and the sun of your own inner and outer resources will shine through. And there will be wonderful surprises.

Change is what is needed now. And it starts with you. Visioning® your way to a new job, career or business is within your reach. All it takes is scissors and glue, some magazines and paper. Go for it!

For more on the process, go to:
Or read Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams. You will want to check out the chapters that have to do with finding work, abundance and a career path that is right for you.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really enjoying this blog, Lucia, and this post is so relevant to our current changing world. Thinking outside the box and following the heart are so important. I love the way you have synthesized all of your work experience into this powerful method. Jean Huston has emphasized the importance of "shape-shifting" (being flexible and multi-disciplinarian rather than narrowly focused)as absolutely necessary in this time of change. This is how we change the world - by taking everything we've learned and rearranging it, then diving in and creating the lives (and the world) we want with heart and passion. Thanks so much for your Visioning(R)method - it provides a powerful pathway to positive change.