Draft a Charter

A charter can take the form of a negotiation with the champion of the practice. Here are some things to agree to, in addition to the basics of compensation:

  • Term: how long do you estimate it will take to build a fully self-sustaining practice? Three years is pretty safe. Set that expectation up front so there would be no surprises, and so that your transition out once the practice is up and running is smoothly. Also set the expectation to potentially continue as hourly or independent contractor after the end of the term.
  • If you'll be bringing your own existing business into the practice, strike the non-compete clause.
  • If you'll be bringing in your existing network of collaborators and you want to continue to work with them after the fact, strike the "no headhunting" clause.
  • Depending on your hiring agreement, you may request to be allowed to continue to work for your own company during the term.
  • Report directly to the CEO. Reporting to a program manager can short-sight the work and focus you on contract work at the expense of building the practice.
  • Avoid having a utilization target: you are in start-up mode, and you're proving value of the practice to the company, which is hard to do if you're primarily client-facing.
  • Include a budget for materials: paper, markers, ink , tape, etc.
  • Include a budget for training, like IFVP attendance.
  • Include a budget for business development (meals, travel, etc.)
  • Include a budget for computer hardware and software, such as Apple monitors, Microsoft Surfaces, Cintiqs, scanner/printers which can print 11x17 paper, and the Adobe Creative Suite.
  • Be clear on expectations about where you'll work. Chances are, you have a home studio with more capabilities than the office. 
  • Also, lay out some of the ethics of facilitation to set out the expectation of how you will show up in meetings, which is to say, advocating the process, not the outcome or any specific course of action or agenda.

Finally, include the core elements of your job: building a visualization practice. That means developing three things: the services you provide, the training you offer, and the intellectual property you design and publish.

Begin with a Vision

Before you do anything else, create a vision. A clear, concise, memorable vision will serve you throughout the stand up of your practice. It is your own job description. It clarifies what tasks you should (and should not) take on. It is what what ultimately will win you buy-in and sponsorship from leadership.

The vision is not for marketing purposes. It should not be crammed with adjectives, big words and consultant-speak. Everyone on the team should be able to instantly recall the vision.  Keep it short.

The vision should be ambitious enough inspire motivated people to join your team. It should reflect a higher purpose than dollars and cents. Like the NASA janitor who said, "I'm helping to put a man on the moon," it should unify the raison d'etre for everyone on the team.

And of course, the best vision is visual. A good exercise is to have each individual on your team create a mindmap with the vision at its core, branching out their own unique interpretation of what that means. That creates meaning and connection for the vision to each individual making it their own. And creating a single mindmap with each team member's perspective is a powerful visual. 

But again, the real value of the vision is that it ultimately defines what you're trying to achieve - a story you'll have to tell over and over as you grow the practice.

Example visions:

  • Build a world-class visualization practice
  • Enhance [the core business] through visuals
  • Be the go-to visualization practice in [pick a locale, pick an industry]
  • Serve [pick a clientele] through visuals
  • Turn everything into a picture