The Power of Visuals
The flip chart is one of the most important pieces of equipment on the ranch. If you are not using one, it is likely costing your businesses tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands each year. Every time you have a meeting on the ranch or when discussing something as a ranch team someone should be writing something down for all to see. A large white board can work, but I prefer flip charts as they can be hung around the room or rolled up and pulled back out, while white boards get erased.
Have you ever had a discussion and then thought someone was going to do X and two months later nothing has happened, or maybe they did Y? If the result of that meeting was written on a flip chart capturing who would do what by when, then the misunderstanding is less likely to occur. At each meeting of your team there should be a minimum of two flip charts. One with the topics to be discussed and another with an action plan (who will do what by when).
Effective use of a flip chart can take tension out of a difficult conversation. The simple step of writing the issue on the flip chart puts the issue on the wall and off the person bringing it forward. The chairs turn and face the wall where the page is posted and the people start working on that, rather than focusing on the person who brought it forward.
Have you ever been in a discussion, and someone keeps bringing up the same point over and over? Why do they do that? It is because they don’t feel like they have been heard. When they bring it up, write their point on the flip chart and ask, “Do I have that right?”, when they say yes, they are more likely to have felt heard.
Effective use of the flip chart takes practice, but it isn’t hard. Use lots of colors, but avoid orange, yellow, pink for writing, as they are not very visible from far away. Write big, include diagrams or drawings as they help bring forth creative ideas. Hand everyone the marker at some point. It shouldn’t be just one person always at the board. Spelling proficiency is optional.
Make flip chart use part of ‘the way we do things around here’. Sure, at first it may be awkward, but just like anything, after a few sessions your team will start to appreciate the value the visuals provide. I think it is possible to run a successful ranch with very little equipment, but I don’t understand how you can run a successful ranch without a flip chart.