Mapping Out What Comes Next

As consultants we often get called in to assist with the planning/mapping of the next fiscal year or the donor journey/experience or even something more short term.  And now there is the “Donor Journey Map” as well. After hearing the word “mapping” used by a client, I started thinking that even using the word map or road map for planning may well be using a word that is going the way of the rotary dial phone.  Do people even remember what it takes to map out a road trip?  Mapping requires thinking both big picture as well as at the micro level.

Thinking big and little at the same time is a challenge.  In this GPS age, what has happened to our ability to think in other than linear terms? Think about it: GPS/Mapquest instructions are linear with zero picture of the big idea - everyone just follows the voice/text. So what happens when there is a road closure? We don't think, we just follow the yellow detour signs or listen to the GPS voice. No thought, no control, no vision.

Don't we need know the big picture to better map out "the way"? When is it best to take the fast road, the scenic one, the free one, the toll road? Don’t we need to know the roads to make those decisions? If all we are doing is following "the voice", no decisions are ever made.  Are we creating a world of followers with no vision?  Isn’t this what happens when we simply repeat, with maybe some tweaks, the fundraising plan that was used last round?

I believe that we need to rekindle a version of Lewis & Clark’s Voyage of Discovery as we try to meet the ever-changing challenges of our technologically-advanced world.  Exercising our brains is really important if we going to be smart enough to weave together factual data points into useful knowledge we can act on.  Remember: information is not knowledge.  As a colleague of mine pointed out, yes, “communication CHANGES.  The more sophisticated we get, the more our low-grade abilities atrophy.  We gain the wonder of geosynchronous satellite positioning, and follow it so eagerly that we drive into a lake.”

So try a new brain exercise.  Start mapping your road trips …  

And for more on just what technology may be doing to our brain – check out Diane Rehm’s recent show on Diane Greenfield’s “Mind Change, How Digital Technology Is Making Their Mark On Our Brains.”