Add Visuals to Drive Action

Written by Crystal Lee

One of the most successful television shows of all time is AMC’s classic period piece Mad Men. This deep look into the happenings of 1960’s Madison Avenue is fascinating, and no part of the show is more exciting than when Don Draper’s firm pitches a prospective commercial to one of their clients!

However, perhaps the most underrated part of that show are the tensions that exist between the creative department of the agency assigned with promoting a product, and the actual client who has to make the ultimate decision on whether or not to utilize the proposed strategies. You have the client, the executives who call the shots, and the ad men, those who have been assigned to roll up their sleeves and provide a captivating presentation of the client’s product. These volatile meetings between the advertisers and the clients are never dull. When the meeting is most successful, the ad men have accomplished something special; they have captivated the imagination of the client to the point where pulling the trigger is easy and inspired.

This is directly applicable to the dueling roles of IBP Leaders and Executives when utilizing scenario planning. Each Integrated Business Planning Review (IBP) is another opportunity for the former to captivate the latter! When IBP Leaders offer clear and inspiring presentations, it makes an executive’s ultimate role that much easier.

My last blog post highlighted the importance of storytelling to the process of IBP Reviews. Perhaps nothing better accompanies a good story than the right image. Whenever the ad man offers the story line for a new commercial, the big reveal is the tag line for the product. And yet, it is not just the line that matters, it is also the image; the artwork on the story board. It’s not just hearing it, but also seeing it.

IBP Leaders have the same opportunity when seeking to best serve their executive team. Visuals and dashboards that offer a concise image of a company’s current reality and their expectations of the future are an ideal partner to pair with great story-telling and clear tag lines.

Every slide should have a tag line written on it (think ‘callout box’) – every slide!  If you can’t summarize in one sentence why it’s there and what the audience should do with it, then question why you have it. These tag lines together create the overall story. That story is then supported by visuals throughout.

Anywhere you are using large tables of data, challenge yourself to replace it with a visual of some sort: a line graph that shows trend, a stacked bar chart that shows a change in mix over time or multiple lines on the graph to show a gap in plans.

Great story-telling and clear visuals in your IBP reviews will empower executives to imagine the future and make confident decisions about next steps for their business. In short, when an executive can see it, they will act on it! And so, IBP Leaders have a golden opportunity to help their executive teams to visualize and attack. I see this often in the most effective IBP reviews I observe and coach.

How many great visuals, clear taglines, and compelling stories were in your last IBP review?