Make Your Thoughts Visible


Someone brilliantly remarked,

 “A fool with a pencil is smarter than a genius without one.”

make thought visibleI was reminded of the importance of capturing ideas during a lunchtime conversation with a high level executive of a leading car manufacturer.  During our coaching time, he confided that several years earlier he had a genius solution to a challenge facing the company.  In his mind, he not only envisioned the solution, but also outlined the strategic steps for its implementation.  The only problem:  he did not write it down and could no longer recall his genius!

Here is the strategy that has improved my leadership and coaching:

make your thoughts visible

This may simply mean writing ideas in outline form.  I have spent over 30 years keeping a journal and writing down my thoughts and ideas.  I have experienced what Earl Nightingale said, “Ideas are elusive, slippery things.  Best to keep a pad of paper and a pencil at your bedside, so you can stab them during the night before they get away.”

In Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius,  Michalko highlights the value of tools such as diagrams, mind mapping and charts to capture and make thoughts visible.

Diagrams can add to understanding of a problem, how to approach it, and what might be missing or unclear.  Having to concentrate on drawing a diagram can force more concrete thinking and help crystallize ideas. “When you write down your ideas you automatically focus your full attention on them. Few if any of us can write one thought and think another at the same time.  Thus a pencil and paper make excellent concentration tools.” [Michael LeBoeuf]

Mind mapping is a new brainstorming tool I have begun to use.  This has been especially useful in teams or small groups.  I used mind mapping for the development and design of a social media class I co-taught. For an explanation of mind mapping, go to MindTools.

Charts help in the retention of ideas.  I have been on the receiving end as other leaders have made their thoughts visible to me.  Their drawings are etched in my mind and help me recall the conversation.  Using the strategy of making thoughts visible, I can do the same for my teams or leaders that I am coaching.

What do you use to capture ideas? How does making thoughts visible help us in leading?

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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with Cru with my wife, Terry. We have been married 30 years and have 4 grown children. We have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right side bar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit: sarahjoellephotography.com
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