Monday, May 13, 2013

Janus General Hospital identity design

From my interest in emergency response I came across Scott Weingart's EMCrit podcast a year ago. The EMCrit cast is one of a growing number of Free Open Access Medical Education (#FOAMed) sources. These folks are redefining medical education, both initial medical training and continuing education.
"EMCrit is devoted to bring the best evidence-based care from the fields of critical care, resuscitation, and trauma and translate it for bedside use in the Emergency Department (ED). Every two weeks we post a full ~20-minute podcast. In between, the site gets filled with blogposts, links, and EMCrit Wees (minature podcasts)." 
FOAM participants is the need to protect patient privacy -- both as a matter of medical ethics and of law [Medical Information Privacy and Security Act (MIPSA) & Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)]. While abstracting cases is effective there are concerns that by simply identifying the hospital or hospitals where cases are conducted put the provider and patient privacy at risk.

In response Scott created a virtual hospital "In order to protect our patients, but at the same time allow a discussion of cases for the benefits of medical education." This hospital is Janus General Hospital. It is modeled on the UK's St. Emlyn's.

While all of the content on EMCrit is well beyond my basic first aid experience, I find the discussion of challenging convention, process and process design provides valuable insight into my own work.  With the launch of Janus I saw the opportunity to contribute to FOAMed. I asked Scott if it would be helpful to have a logo for Janus General and he took me up on the offer.

Design: Janus was the ancient Roman god of beginnings and transitions. He is typically depicted with a face to the future and a face to the past. We used this theme as the core of the logo and it also appears in the logotype with the doubled "J". The twin circles represent two sides of a coin, another common theme with Janus.

Alternative Design: We also considered a simpler alternative that uses the doubled "J" type.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My personal outro

I always think about how I'm going to end a presentation before I start. I consider this my "outro". An outro serves a number of purposes:
  1. The outro helps you link your message of the day back to a higher message, hopefully your ethos and values.
  2. The outro, when repeated with an audience over multiple engagements, elevates this higher message in their minds.
  3. The outro gives you a closing point and helps avoid running on to a weak finish, it is an offramp.

In my Coast Guard leadership duties my outro emerged easily. "Be safe out there and look to the safety of your shipmates". What we do as Coast Guardsmen on the water, in the air and ashore is inherently risky.
My first concern is the safety of my crew. My "crew" can be a few when I'm leading a mission on the water as coxswain or hundreds in my senior leadership roles. We direct a great deal of institutional attention to identifying and managing risk. We manage risks with training and structured conversations about the dangers of what we do -- but we also want the perception of the risks and the understanding of our duty to each other as a top of mind outside of those structured conversations and training. There is also a few subtle calls to our Coast Guard core values in my outro. First, I'm addressing my audience as shipmates which has powerful resonance in our service. Second, I'm focusing my audience on others in our organization.

This outro works great with my internal audience but, surprisingly, it also works very well when I'm speaking to external audiences. Our primary mission as Coast Guard Auxiliarists is boating safety. With a new external audience I talk about our approach to risk when on duty and talk to them about the similar risks they face when working or playing on the water. By using my internal outro of "Be safe and look to the safety of your shipmates," I invite them into our community... a community of safe boaters.


Be safe out there and look to the safety of your shipmates.

Related link: In November 2012 I did a blog post and video as part of my Project Presence that talked about the importance of a strong outro when making leadership videos.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Talk to me about.... YOU

A few weeks ago Nilofer Merchant [@nilofer] posted a photo of Mitch Joel's [@mitchjoel] "Talk to me about" TED button. Mitch listed "you", "your art", "how I can help" in the provided spaces. The button captures a great spirt of generosity and collaboration. I replicated the thought on my laptop. We've gotten so focused on the digital we often miss opportunities to make a statement in the physical world.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Building culture: Take your timeline off the slide and put it on your wall...

Rackspace recently posted a Google Street View based tour of their headquarters, "The Castle", a former mall in San Antonio.

The first feature I noticed inside the main entrance was Rackspace's timeline - ten feet tall and sixty feet long. We've all seen dozens of these in corporate slide decks and I've made more than my share. Rackspace took theirs off the slide and put it in a prominent location, celebrating their history and progress for all to see. That is communicating leadership to their visitors and their team.

At a smaller scale this is fairly easy and relativity inexpensive to execute using a mix of techniques. In this case it appears Rackspace used printed vinyl for the year and data band at the bottom (you can see the white background) and cut vinyl for the upper elements.

Here is the Google map tour if you'd like to see the whole wall or visit other parts of the Castle. I recommend using the expand button in the upper right hand corner of the map viewer.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Called on to speak? Know how to stop talking...

As leaders we are expected to be able to make "off the cuff" remarks. Each of us needs to have a few pocket speeches and be ready to provide relevant context to the current conversation or situation.

Comfortable or not in these situations, it is important to know how to keep your extemporaneous comments short and finish strong. There is always a moment to stop talking and certainly a point at which you've gone on too long. When I consult with leaders about video I suggest having a strong, repeatable outro which includes a call to a higher purpose. The same holds for extemporaneous remarks. If you start to drift at all, hit your outro and be done.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Leading Visually Project Presence: The value of (and a source of) enthusiasm in your leadership videos

Key takeaway: Enthusiasm is important to conveying authenticity but it can be challenging to pull off for some of us when facing a video camera.

Video link:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pro bono publico: Designing posters to alert mariners to dangerous conditions

Throughout my career I've always tried to utilize the skills I've developed in business to make a difference in the community -- in my children's schools, with non-profit groups and, for the last decade, as a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist.  I've found I get far more back from these engagements than the energy I contribute.

My client work has evolved from graphic design and PowerPoint wizardry towards a broader focus on a whole range of approaches to communicate leadership. Sometimes a project comes along that is a stand alone visual message. These are fun opportunities to get back to my design roots.

Know before you go...

In the next few months these posters will be showing up on the Oregon & Washington coasts and on the Interstate 5 corridor. The design brief was fairly simple -- we wanted to feature a QR code which links to a National Weather Service site with the current conditions of the Oregon and Washington river bars. QR codes are becoming common in advertising but usually serve as an opportunity for more information. In this case the QR code is what we were trying to communicate.

These will be 24" x 36" posters.


These river bars are incredibly dangerous. The Coast Guard regularly closes the bars to recreational vessel traffic. At times the Columbia Bar is so rough ocean going ships don't cross. The challenge is assuring recreational boaters are aware of the current conditions and comply with any restrictions. If someone drives two hours to go fishing and spends an hour getting underway they may be tempted to attempt a bar crossing even if they know the bar is closed. It is also possible for inexperienced boaters to be unaware of bar closures. In either case this puts the boater in extreme danger and puts the Coast Guardsmen called upon to make the rescue in peril as well.

If you are a boater please check the conditions before you cross the bar, carry proper safety equipment, and WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Project Presence: Using video in you communication strategy yields better messages

Key takeaway: Video is a powerful tool to refine your message before delivery

Learn more about Project Presence: Project Presence overview

Video link:


Welcome leaders. One of the unexpected benefits of doing these leadership videos has been the impact on the quality of my messaging. I truly believe that a big part of leadership is about telling stories, about setting the stage for your team, about providing the context, and preparing them to succeed against whatever challenges the team faces -- be they competitive challenges or something else. Those stories, at least in my case, never pour out perfectly the first time. By using video I can develop those messages,  those stories, before I take them out to my team.

I usually come to stand in front of the camera with the topic in mind and a few bullet points. I no longer write scripts -- it simply doesn't work. I stand in front of the camera, I usually take a few takes, by the time I've done a few I have my message, or my story, to a quality I'm willing with you, or when I'm doing a leadership video, a quality I'm willing to share with my team.

For important messages, for the really critical messages, I take the results of my videos and I share the video or share the story in person, further refine, and then come back and reshoot that video. [This process assures] that I have all my points down very well.

It turns out this [process] is a very important tool to improve the quality of those messages before you share them with your team. Rather than standing up in front of them at a meeting with 30 or 40 people in front of you you've actually run through your narrative ahead of time. [Doing so] in a fairly critical mode. No one is going to be as critical of your performance as you are and you get to see your performance by using the video tool.

As always I'd love to hear about the challenges and successes of your Project Presence.

Happy holidays