Friday, May 11, 2012

In Praise of Vision Formers

I’ve been absent from blogging lately, much longer than I like, but there’s a reason. Finally, after what seemed to be the longest gestation period in history, I have finished the first draft of a new book.

It isn’t my first book. It’s my sixth. I used to think that, like birthing babies, authoring a book would get easier and go faster over time. That was generally true with the first batch, written in the late 70’s through the 80’s. But this was a ‘late in life baby’! There was so much more that I needed to get out, remembering all the while that very few readers have boundless patience. It was like having sextuplets and then realizing you’ve only got one name and not nearly enough diapers.

I should explain that.

The ‘technology of teaming’ that we created identifies (among other things) ten specific modes in which different individuals strive to make a meaningful team contribution. Each of these capital-R ‘Roles’ has a name that corresponds to the organizational need that it fulfills

I have the Role of ‘Founder’, and also of ‘Vision Mover’. People with this particular combination of Roles are big-picture builders, often entrepreneurial, whether in starting companies or projects. And when we do it, we do it with a vengeance. The ideas and strategies, the desire to connect, and the urge to make rapid progress can become overwhelming. (I am just admitting this to myself.) So when life intrudes, projects like books and other things that aren’t screaming for attention get shelved in favor of those that have pressing timelines, or that other people need so they can do their jobs.

It’s easier to go ‘cold turkey’ from book writing than from crafting a few paragraphs or phrases here and there, which is why I blog and tweet a lot. But finally, the need became unbearable. The story had to be told. It had been percolating since I first (very long ago) became fascinated with the way people behave in groups, so I gave in and shifted into high gear.

Producing a lot of thoughts is not as hard as it sounds (at least not for a ‘Vision Mover on steroids’, which some have called me) but this is the truth: the hard part is shaping up the spaces between the thoughts.

Mark Talaba, my Vision Former, at work
For that you need a Vision Former.

The Vision Former is the Role that brings high-level order to the execution of a vision.  You can bounce a zillion ideas off of a ‘VF’, and he or she will tell you which ones can work – in which context, under what conditions, right now, in the foreseeable future, and maybe never (or at least, not as you’ve first laid them out.)

I could use two of them. Or maybe ten. (Yes, this is a great Vision Mover fantasy… maybe there’s an app for that?)

But I have been blessed with one great one. And even as I write this (and, truth be told, also write other thoughts on three other screens) he is shaping and forming what will be the final product.

I have had editors before. In the old days, pre-digital publishing, the publisher assigned one to prod you until you delivered the manuscript. If you were lucky, they made some improvements, but that wasn’t a given. Why? Because they had experience, and they had English skills, and writing skills, but weren’t always the right Role-fit for the job.

As it turned out, I liked most of them, though they did get naggy at times.

You don’t get nag from a Vision Former. Just pure, efficient, shaping of concept and flow and finished product.

So I will sing the praises of a great Vision Former the only way I know how: by producing yet more material for him to shape and form until it is ready for you.