Are You a Map Maker?


Cartography . . . the craft of map-making . . . one of those lost arts, gone the way of the horse and buggy, right? Actually, no. Modern-day cartography, a profession that is alive and well, is described as being a mixture of art, science and technology. While map-making may be carried out a bit differently in today’s high-tech, fast paced world, the need for individuals who can clearly chart a path is on the increase

Does your organization have a map-maker?

What if you started to look at your leadership responsibilities through the lens of cartography — that mixture of art, science and technology that allows one to chart a clear path to a specific destination? What might that look like?

  • A map-maker leader, first and foremost, identifies the destination. Is everyone in your organization looking at the same map, and are they clear on where you are trying to go? (I know you’re clear, but is your entire team?) If not, what do you need to do to get everyone headed in a unified direction.
  • A map-maker leader keeps the team informed in real time. This is where today’s technology can make the job so much easier. I can zoom with a remote employee, or email, or text regarding unexpected barriers encountered along the way, or get updates from the “front line” that can allow us to adapt our route based on new information.
  • A map-maker leader has a clear touch-point to keep people grounded. When things don’t go according to plan, refer back to the map. When people have questions, the map becomes the reference point. When someone wants to take a side road or follow a rabbit trail the first response should be to look at the map.

Trying to steer a complex organization without a map is similar to looking a convergence of multiple interstates and cloverleaf interchanges without any idea which route to take. It becomes an Alice in Wonderland situation where if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. This route looks scenic . . . everyone seems to be taking that road, perhaps we should go there . . . an “expert” told me this is the best way forward . . .

Without a map, the road you take at any particular moment becomes a test of wills — where members of your team may be pulling in different directions, expending their energy on efforts that do nothing to move you toward the ultimate destination. How do you keep that from happening? Simple . . .

Be a map maker.

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