Baltimore Trip: Strategic Planning Facilitation and Seeing Ol’ Friends

Dee Crowley and I

Originally uploaded by graphiccoach

Just got back from a week long American trip. Went to Baltimore, Maryland where I had the chance to connect with several old friends and make some new ones.

First off, my ol’ colleague, Deirdre Crowley, met me at the airport and took me out for a great lunch at Fell’s Point. Dee and I are both veterans from pre-bust San Francisco – back in the heyday when Silicon Valley was flying. We worked as admin supports and then as graphic designers (her) and graphic recorders (me) for boutique change management firm The Grove Consultants International (our mentors being David Sibbett and the other fine consultants there). These days Dee operates her own consultancy in Washington, DC, Crowley and Company, where she provides strategic visioning and other graphic facilitation for the education, health and international fields. And manages larger information architecture projects.

MACPA facilitationThe other ol’ friends that I connected with on this trip were my buddies from The Maryland Association of CPAs – Tom Hood, Jackie Brown and Brent Johnston.  I love these folks – we all worked together back in the late 90s and into 2000 on a very large visioning project with the American Institute of CPAs.  I was there project manager back when i worked for the aforementioned Grove Consultants – who they were a client of. 

Tom called me up after 6 years of so (he is an avid e-zine reader – Hi Tom!), and invited me to come facilitate a strategic planning retreat with the focus on MACPA’s additional company: Business Learning Institute.  As well as provide a quick one-day refresher graphic facilitation course, my Mini Graphics Bootcamp (since I was going to be there).  BLI provides training and consulting services to the CPA profession (and are also now moving into companies and other licensed professionals). Kind of a one stop shop for forward thinking CPA professionals and firms.  BLI was a twinkle in their eyes back when I was first working with them so it was great to draw out the history of the company – from its genesis story to the success it is now experiencing. And to help them envision what the next chapter is – BLI 2.0. 

What a pleasure to work with such forward thinking folks and with cm facilitatingpeople who are so well versed with the graphic way of working.  BLI has partnered with The Grove Consultants Int’l and offers their products and trainings in their course catalog.  And they walk their talk with this methodology, having a store room I could pluck from (sure made the cross-country travel a lot lighter!), and the use of visual maps and charts sprinkled throughout their offices.  It was preaching to the choir.  They are already sold on the value of working visually – and continue to win other folks in their profession (and other professions) over to the power of good strategic planning and visioning via graphic facilitation forums.  Not only are these folks smart, innovative and graphic wonders – they are also very, very nice.  Which clinches the deal for me.  I am very happy for them and wish them continued success. 

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