The soul never thinks without a picture
This issue features a visual depiction of the Academy
of Program and Project Leadership (APPL). I imagine
a variety of initial reactions to the drawing. One
might be, “What is a cartoon doing in a magazine
about project management?” Or perhaps, “Wow, nice
colors—and fun.” Another may be to closely search the
image for signs, symbols and meaning. Still another,
to read a new level of innovation and creativity into
the picture. Undoubtedly, some readers will raise
questions about the cost.
Of course, any reaction is a sign of engagement.
The stronger, the more energized the emotional and
cognitive processing, the better. It is a sign of attention
and interaction. For I’ve heard it said, “You only need
to worry if they don’t care one way or the other.” So
what is the point of the picture?
To stimulate interest, raise questions, promote
discussion, and maybe raise a smile…That, at least, was
my initial reaction when I was introduced to the work
of Nancy Hegedus, who helps to create these drawings
for Root Learning Inc. At the NASA PM Conference,
I was first shown the work Nancy had been doing
with the help of Goddard’s Knowledge Management
Architect, Dr. Ed Rogers. I was immediately drawn into
the power of visualization as a tool for more effective
learning, communicating, and conveying complex
We need new tools in today’s world, where
information and data overwhelms by sheer volume.
There are articles, pamphlets, communications, and
white papers—all aiming to convince and influence.
Reactions to these tend to be either avoidance or mindnumbing,
heavy-eyed consent; the message never
registers or enters the soul. That’s one of the reasons
that APPL’s Knowledge Sharing Initiative (KSI) has
turned to storytelling as a memorable way of transferring
knowledge, inspiring imitation of best practices,
and spurring reflection. ASK Magazine’s recent fourth
birthday marks an important milestone in APPL’s
continuing quest to provide ongoing support to project
managers and to promote mission success.
And similar to storytelling, the power of visualization
is receiving increasing attention in recent years
as a way to stimulate engagement. Pictures and visual
graphs are viewed as one of the most effective ways for
displaying, describing, and generating discussion about
quantitative and technically complex information.1
Prototypes, models, and simulations are considered
essential for stimulating innovation through open and
engaging discussions.2 There has also been extensive
writing on the use of visual graphics, pictures, and
cartoons to facilitate memory, creativity, openness,
attention—and even well-being.
For many of these reasons, I am excited to have a
colorful visual depiction of the APPL world included in
ASK. Without the addition of text or slides, the intent is
to invite people into the world of the APPL mission—as
well as its products, services, customers, and partners—
in a fun and engaging manner. As project leaders strive
to find ways to encourage engagement, learning, and
transmission of knowledge, traditional technologies
are proving to be as valuable as modern technologies.
(But for those who want more information in the form
of texts and slide presentations, we certainly have an
abundance of those as well.)