Although deemed one of the most important inventions in human history, no one person or group of people can be pointed to as the inventor of the map. They are believed to have been developed by many different cultures independently. Maps were produced and used in ancient Babylon, Greece, Rome, and China. The earliest evidence of maps exist in cave paintings and etched in stone.

Today, with the progress of technology, the map is a bit different than a few decades ago. The wall-sized paper map, folded and unfolded like an accordion, fingers and highlighters running over our preferred route, has been replaced by smartphones with GPS and turn-by-turn voice navigation and is still “allowing humans to explain and navigate their way through the world.”

In fact, humans are not the only animals to use maps, or at least the concept of maps. Ants routinely send so-called scout ants outside the colony to find food. You may have come across one, weirdly all alone, roaming around randomly and chaotically. That is a scout ant. When the scout finds a stockpile of food, it will return to the colony, laying down a pheromone trail, allowing other ants to follow its path to the food. In turn, if the scout does not return to the colony, the path that scout set out on is known to be too dangerous to yield food for the colony.

"As frustrating as it may sometimes seem, what if no one had provided any instructions for putting together that end table or bookcase?"

And the concept of the map has not been limited to just physical locations. Just think about any activity that would or should be repeated by others. As the old adage has said, what if no one had followed Columbus’ journey to the New World? As frustrating as it may sometimes seem, what if no one had provided any instructions for putting together that end table or bookcase? What if no one had documented that manufacturing process to help ensure the creation of a high-quality product? What if no one laid out “a road map to achieve organizational excellence and build a culture around it?”

Thanks to the concept of maps, we do not need to ponder these questions, particularly the last one. According to authors Hung Le, Ph.D., and Grace L. Duffy, “Building and improving a culture of organizational excellence requires a systematic approach. A robust model is required to achieve and sustain its performance goals. Organizations must assess the maturity of their processes and organizational readiness to implement such a methodology before embarking on the journey.”

So read “Building Blocks to Improve Organizational Culture” and check out everything we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!