Below is a 1957 mind map of Walt Disney’s vision for his company.
Today it seems obvious, because most of what is there has come to pass (and then some). But pause for a moment to consider that Disney himself had no template for the market he was building. He created it out of his own mind, in collaboration with trusted partners. Then he went and made it happen, he brought it to life. It is a beautifully complex and yet simple rendering of what he intended to build.
If only we could all be so eloquent in our renderings of our visions! Maybe your drawings are a little messier, and they don’t have iconic mice running through them. Maybe you can’t even draw a mouse. But get over your artistic limitations and take a piece of paper. Draw what you’d love to build in your market – or in a new, as yet unrealized market. Use arrows and circles and square – whatever works for you. But use the Disney map as a model – consider the core, what matters most to you. Then move out to the edges – what other industries, products, lines of business could you explore? Remember that “Disneyland” didn’t mean anything to people when Disney drew this map – what’s your Disneyland? What inspires you to build? What do you have a burning desire to create? What is a burning platform from which you’d love to jump, and to where?
Getting clear and articulate on that will clear up a tremendous amount of noise for you and for your team. It takes hard work, intention, and commitment to build the capacity to think in this way – you have to practice, and you have to share your thinking with others to get reactions, input, and critique. And then you have to try again. Keep pushing through until you have a picture you can hang on your wall and refer back to over and over again. And then share it some more. Disney succeeded because he took his drawing and he showed it to people, and he convinced them to care about it as much as he did, even though they likely didn’t ‘get it’ at first. Imagine trying to explain Disneyland to someone who’d never heard of a ‘theme park’! I’m confident whatever your vision is, it can’t be harder than that to explain to someone. If you can get there, you will be at the intersection of old and new, bringing what works well to bear on what will be, and you will be driving value no one else has considered.
Try it. It’s hard, we know. But we’d love to see you go for it and win.