Traci Jones

Director of Marketing

Recent Posts

Why a Company Vision and the Process of Creating It Is Critical: An Interview with Dave Gray

11-23-2016 | Traci Jones | Vision

How do you define “company vision”?

You're asking a question that I love to hear because I am an artist, and my life has, in many ways, been devoted to visual thinking and visualization. When I think of a vision, the thing that comes to mind is that it's an exercise of imagination. A vision for an organization, or for any group, is about creating a picture of the future that doesn't exist yet.

Why is it so important?

What’s powerful about a vision is that it provides a picture of a future that people are excited about, and it allows organizations to start moving forward as a collective group of people.
When people can get excited about the vision, they have a reason to come to work in the morning. It provides a shared picture that everyone can work towards and serves as a gauge that represents progress. Ultimately it gives people an approach that allows them to structure activities in a way that feels productive. People need that.

What makes a vision successful?

I believe a good vision should be something that's inspiring, believable, and plausible. Even if it is a stretch, it should be possible, and it should be something that is shared. The more concrete picture you can paint of the future the better because for most people, future vision is very vague.
It is also a deep recognition of something that is very real, honest, and authentic. It’s a dialogue between the present and the future. Every organization, consciously or unconsciously, has something it is trying to become. It has the next stage of itself that's trying to emerge. It's the nature of growth; it's the caterpillar turning into the butterfly or the snake shedding its skin.
The creation of a good vision should consider three things: what is the best future you can imagine, what capabilities do you currently have, and how are your customers going to evolve? If organizations are able to combine their current set of core strengths and unique capabilities with a clear and shared picture of the future, all while keeping an eye on the evolving landscape of their customers, the company vision will become a powerful tool.

Where do you start?

If it can't be drawn, it can't be done. The reason I say that is because I believe visualizing the future state is not only a good exercise in imagination, but it also forces people to think it through. If someone tells me their vision is world peace, and I ask them to draw a picture of what that looks like, it forces the imagination to figure out exactly how world peace would look in the U.S., in Syria, and in Paris. Simply saying their vision is world peace is dramatically different than visualizing world peace. The visualization process surfaces issues that can help people realize if their vision is too big or too hard and ultimately implausible. 

Who should be involved?

Creating a visual that depicts the future state vision is critical, and the process by which it is created is equally as important. Developing a vision cannot be an exercise that is done with the just the CEO. It has to be created with the team, and it has to be validated. When a vision is co-created with the organization, the end result is a shared picture that builds alignment within the team. We strongly believe that people support what they help build. The co-creation process creates a sense of ownership and advocacy that cannot be achieved by creating a vision at the top levels of management and pushing it down to employees.

How do we ensure that the company vision is present and relevant to our day jobs?

The picture of a vision should serve as a north star or guiding light to help accomplish, in day-to-day tasks and larger initiatives, the organization’s ultimate goals.
Organizations have a natural tendency to seek efficiency and increase utilization and profitability; however, if you run a machine day and night, it's going to break down. You need to have some time for maintenance.
It's the same with people; if the only goal is to optimize every hour of every day, it’s harder (or nearly impossible) for people to have the time they need to think about how they can do things smarter, different, or better. If there is a picture of where the organization is trying to go, things will have to be done differently to get there. The vision can serve as a tool for counterbalancing the natural tendency to optimize all the time. Reflecting on the vision affords people the opportunity to pause the machine and make sure they are balancing the short-term strategies with the long-term goals. The most effective way to do this is to make sure the vision is part of daily conversations. Hang it in meeting rooms, common spaces, and the foyer—anywhere visible. Encourage managers to use it with their teams and to think of it as a guidepost when making strategic decisions. Refer to it as a leadership team when determining new objectives. Include it as part of new employee onboarding. Set aside time each month, quarter, or year to revisit the vision and remind everyone of the best possible future for the organization.
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The Evolution of OMSI

11-23-2016 | Traci Jones | Strategy

The Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI), one of the United States' leading science centers, has an international reputation for innovative exhibits and educational programs serving over 1 million people. However, the organization is in a time of critical change. Having operated successfully as a regional museum for nearly 70 years, it is now embarking on an ambitious expansion of its programs and geographic footprint.  

In 2014, OMSI began working with XPLANE on a comprehensive visioning and strategic planning process. OMSI chose XPLANE because they didn't want to just "go through the motions" of planning. They sought a customized approach to strategic planning that honors OMSI's unique culture of inquiry, openness, inspiration, and fun. 

After facilitating alignment on a 20-year vision for the institution, XPLANE co-designed a customized experience to achieve OMSI's planning goals in a culturally authentic way: the OMSI Strategic Planning Game. Over the course of 2014, XPLANE and OMSI piloted the game, which involves four rounds: listen, synthesize, explore, and decide. In playing the game, stakeholders are engaged through a series of ideation workshops, then participants generate "opportunity tiles" based on emergent patterns. The tiles are built upon and played in a series of prioritization exercises until the final set is agreed. 

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Join The Revolution: The TrustTheVote™ Project

06-01-2016 | Traci Jones | Strategy

The OSET Foundation is a nonprofit (501.c.3) election technology research institute focused on innovations in voting technology — what is often called “critical democracy infrastructure.” OSET’s team of tech-sector individuals previously contributed to innovations at companies including Apple, Facebook, Mozilla, and Netscape. Their new mission is developing technology for any jurisdiction to adopt, adapt, and deploy in order to do the following:
  • Improve voter turnout
  • Ensure ballots are counted as cast
  • Increase confidence in elections and their outcomes ​

The Problem
The most fundamental aspect of our democracy, the process of public elections, is at risk.  Elections infrastructure has deteriorated and become a very real barrier to our civic duty and civil right to vote. Voter turnout is at a record low, vulnerable voting systems have resulted in questionable elections outcomes, and existing technology is nearly obsolete. Citizens increasingly believe it’s too hard to vote, their votes don’t matter, or their votes may not even be counted as cast. Additionally, voting lines are long, the sign-in processes are inefficient, ballots are poorly designed, the audit and verification process is questionable, and technology is under-utilized.

The Solution
The TrustTheVote™ Project, the first-of-its-kind “digital public works project” is building an open, adaptable, and flexible Election Technology Framework called ElectOS™ that supports all aspects of elections administration including creating, marking, casting, and counting ballots. It leverages a technology platform that utilizes innovative apps to make voting easy, convenient, and more verifiable, accurate, and secure. The result is freely available, open source election technology that will do the following:
  • Enable any jurisdiction or vendor of finished systems to produce finished voting systems (ElectOS™ is like “Android for voting systems”)
  • Create a better voting experience
  • Be a catalyst for greater confidence in elections and their outcomes
To support the mission of developing ElectOS, by the people and for the people, the OSET Foundation engaged XPLANE to help drive a groundswell of public awareness and involvement. The first phase of the project is to co-create an animation with OSET to encourage people to join the movement and “Trust the Vote.” Stay tuned.

Learn more about The TrustTheVote™ Project:

Meegan Gregg


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Inside XPLANE: Culture

09-24-2015 | Traci Jones | Culture
Culture is the Heart of Our Organization We aren't trapped in cubicles all day, and there isn't a time clock to punch. Our Moleskines are crammed
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"Want To Make a Process Improvement Plan Stick? Focus on the People." in OPEX Society

06-29-2015 | Traci Jones | News

Cynthia Owens, XPLANE Senior Consultant authored, "Want To Make a Process Improvement Plan Stick? Focus on the People." in Operational Excellence Society. The Operational Excellence Society is a platform designed for executives and practitioners in the disciplines of Business Process Improvement (BPI), Continuous Improvement (CI), and Lean Six Sigma.

In her article, Cynthia addresses how the typical process improvement methods focus on the process more than the people, resulting in plans that are dead on arrival. She breaks down the vital steps required see results from a new process. 

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New Hire - Annie Pomeranz

04-07-2015 | Traci Jones | News
It is an honor and pleasure to introduce Annie Pomeranz, the newest addition to the Program Management team.  She comes to us from Laika, has her own IMDB page, and is an amatuer photographer.

To learn more, please see her interview on  xBlog or see the Portland Business Journal's announcement.
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Interview with Annie Pomeranz, New Program Manager

03-30-2015 | Traci Jones | News
FIVE FUN FACTS: Though born in “The Emerald City,” I grew up in “The Biggest Little City in the World”. My last name mea
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New Hire - Lauren Gantner

03-10-2015 | Traci Jones | News
XPLANE welcomes Lauren Ganter! Lauren holds a degree in Print Journalism and a minor in Design from the University of Minnesota. As Marketing Coordinator she will rely on her design, photography, and writing skills to support XPLANE's marketing efforts.

Portland Business Journal Announcement
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Interview with Lauren Gantner, New Marketing Coordinator

03-09-2015 | Traci Jones | News
Give us a brief overview of your background and experience: Writer, designer, marketer, and photographer. I graduated from the University of Minnesota in
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03-05-2015 | Traci Jones | News

Facing ambiguity? Mired in chaos? Hopelessly lost? Thankfully, making sense of the world around us is an innate talent we humans share. At XPLANE it’s also a skill—a skill we apply to some, big burly challenges. Join us at our March VTS as we embrace nonsense, by tapping into our natural skills, building new ones, and having a little fun on the way to making sense of things.

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