Exploration, Guidance, and Mapmaking with Jim Henderson + Jim Hancock
For the better part of four decades, we’ve traveled about in unfamiliar territories — separately, and now together — exploring uncharted spaces for communication, persuasion, change agency, and leadership. Our journeys have taken us places where street signs were conspicuously absent — which is to acknowledge that we’ve been lost now and again … had to backtrack here and there … walked around in circles on occasion … all the while hoping J.R.R. Tolkien was right when he made a hero say:
All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost
— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, 2012 Del Rey Mass Market Edition, p.193
What brought us together in 2016 was a feature-length documentary we decided to call No Joke, about a rabbi, an imam, and a white evangelical preacher in the American heartland. Working on that movie did more than just bring our storylines together.
In 2017 we began work on a project to help folks communicate with people they find disagreeable. We weren’t the tiniest bit interested in the aspirational angle on that … none of us needs to be told we should try harder to communicate with people who don’t appear to be trying to communicate at all. What captured our imagination and focused our efforts was the attempt to be operational about helping people cross the difference divide — repeatedly and on purpose.
That design path consumed two solid years.
There are two kinds of explorers.
One sort returns from their journeys with vivid tales of struggle and discovery — the upshot of which is I wish I could make you understand … I wish you could have been there!
The other sort of explorer returns with a map ... and simple declaratory statement:
"You should go. If you want to understand, here’s a map … you should go."
In 2019, at the end of two years of exploration, discovery, and development, we brought back our map in the form of a book called 3Practices for Crossing the Difference Divide, where we describe how we’ve learned to help people communicate in the safety of an environment we call 3Practice Circles. The growing 3Practice Circle community helps folks transfer the skills they learn in their safe Circles to the often unsafe world of everyday living.
In 2020, we rebooted a name Jim Henderson and friends used for a decade or so around the turn of the century … a name that went dormant as they moved on to other things: Off the Map.
3Practice Circles are a model for generating clarity about organizational challenges and opportunities that need the best-informed decisions a smart team can make.
We’ve developed three applications for the 3Practice Circle model:
- Discovery Circles expose what we need to know about each other
- Dispute Circles clarify where we disagree, and why
- Decision Circles deliver the intelligence we need to make the best decisions
We began with Dispute Circles, followed by Discovery Circles, and then Decision Circles for the most practical of reasons:
If you can use this model to produce clarity between people who are openly antagonistic about morality, politics, race, gender, economics, climate change, immigration, religion … all of it … then using the same model to generate clarity for problem-solving and decision-making between people who are on the same team is certainly within reach.
That’s what we do at Off the Map: We help entrepreneurs, artists, and business and organizational leaders, explore open country to develop products, services, and experiences in spaces their competitors don’t, or won’t, or can’t go.