Keeping It Simple

“It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing else to take away.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (aviator and writer)

MAP is so simple that I used to feel uneasy about calling it a tool. Surely people would expect something more elaborate than these three letters? Engineers are used to, literally, rocket science, and the customer-related difficulties they face are extremely complex. Suggesting that MAP will help them seems like offering a hammer to someone trying to defuse a nuclear bomb!

However, the brevity of MAP is a real, practical asset. It would be quite easy to augment the acronym with sub-grids that list the different aspects of one’s objectives, audience and plan. However, such complications would kill the spirit of the tool which is that the key to preparation is not to think of everything. It is to avoid overlooking anything really important.

The advantage of simplicity is particularly evident when several people collaborate to prepare a meeting or a call. MAP allows us to exchange ideas quickly and, as just pointed out, not to overlook some very important basics. It often happens that people involved in preparing a meeting don't attend the meeting itself, and MAP can then be useful in the post-meeting report, as a reference. If the MAP checklist that was agreed before the meeting is referred to, point by point, in the minutes, then the absentees can quickly see which objectives were attained and which were not, how the audience turned out to be compared to expectations, and whether or not the original plan worked out.

I use MAP all the time and can vouch for its effectiveness. Even so, I am amazed by the positive feedback on the tool that I have received from training courses and workshops. In spite of (or perhaps because of) its simplicity, it is probably the most widely adopted of all the tools that I share with CAEs. So, put aside that GPS and start preparing your next client encounter with a MAP!


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