Daily Archives: July 31, 2018

I’m Curious: What’s Your Big Idea?

In a world of countless (often similar) presentations – how to do you get people to really pay attention?

Many presentations are issue-focused: here are the facts, organized to persuade you to accept our position.  It gets boring.  Chris Anderson, in his book on Ted Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking proposes an alternative approach: develop curiosity. Think of how we all listen to stories: we want to listen to the whole message because we’re curious as to how it will turn out, so we stay till the end.

The key is to present an idea, not an issue. As he notes, June Cohen noticed that idea-based talks lead with curiosity, whereas issue-based talks lead with lessons – morality, capitalism, sustainability, etc.  An issue exposes a problem; an idea proposes a solution. An issue may be something I know something about; an idea proposed something I may not yet know, so I will feel that this may make a difference to me. You’re not just asking them to care about your issue; instead you’re taking the audience on a journey to discuss a puzzle and offer a solution as a gift,

For instance, we all know (the issue) that despite millions of research dollars; no magic bullet has been found to solve Alzheimer’s Disease. However, here’s another approach: the idea that a pill may not be the right approach. Instead using a series of therapies together has shown some indication that it might actually slow the progression of AD and possibly reverses some of its impacts. Are you curious to know about this approach, how it would work, what kinds of trials and FDA tests has it gone through? Is it available to use? Can I invest in the companies engaged in the R&D and commercialization?

Engaging the audience through curiosity requires that you, as the speaker, need to use your best ADAP attributes: Audience-Driven and Authentic Presentation) attributes. You need to be competent and passionate on the topic; you need to engage the audience in your own struggle to understand the idea and where it’s going to take everyone, so people are inspired and enthusiastic.  Unlike issue-presentations, where the goal is for the speaker to persuade the audience, here the goal is to engage the audience journey in the discovery process and paint a bold picture of the (future) idea, so we, the audience, persuades ourselves.

Next time you’re preparing a presentation, get the audience curious on what the idea means for them!  Then share with us the results of this presentation style!

The Challenge of Innovation Inertia

People love talking about innovation because it generally makes life better. Yet institutions generally resist the efforts needed to generate innovations.

The Law of Inertia says that an object at rest or in motion tends to stay in that state unless acted upon. Companies spend enormous amounts of time, energy and capital to build “strategic systems” to develop effective systems for all aspects of the company – leadership, operations, finance, marketing, sales, etc. Mike Shipulski notes in the HOW and WHY of Innovation that any innovation, especially disruptive innovation, for such companies is “more difficult because it requires an admission that the way you’ve done things are no longer viable.”  As a result, when things don’t work as well as they should senior management gage in incremental innovation – smaller steps to improve things. Only when the hurdle of admission is crossed, can significant innovation efforts occur.

So how do companies that are committed to keeping their industry leadership roles overcome inertia? They accept the challenge and build systems outside the normal business process to address it. Some companies hire inside Strategists whose mandate is to challenge assumptions, by listening to innovative ideas proposed by staff not wedded to existing system and explore them. If a disruptive system makes sense, a proposal is made to a group of senior leaders committed to improving situations, not just the head of that department. Other firms create events each year encouraging people to try new things (e.g., hackathons) to use the special forum to open itself to new ideas. Still others create a culture in which people are encouraged to try new things, advocate for them and discover if they work before someone shoots down the idea.  For instance, companies like Google and 3M give employees free time to pursue ideas in their own (15-20%) time.

Given the challenge of Innovation Inertia, what is your company doing to harness the creativity of your employees and create, when possible, significant, even disruptive innovations. Share the system with us, so we can share with others!

 

8 Ways to Inspire Your Audience

We all know that the goal of a presentation isn’t to do a “data-dump” and just present the facts. Our goal is to convert information into inspiration so the audience will take action. Is it time to inspire your audience?

Chris Anderson, in his book on Ted Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, offers 8 ways presenters can have that impact, by committing to presentation excellence for the content, organization, engagement style and delivery.  Here are the impacts you want your audience to achieve:

  • Connection: I trust this person
  • Engagement: Everything appears so exciting
  • Curiosity: I hear and see passion in the presentation and delivery
  • Understanding: the presentation, your voice, energy and physical gestures communicate it well
  • Empathy: I can tell you care
  • Conviction: I feel your determination in body language
  • Action: I want to be on your team. Sign me up!

As Chris says in the aggregate, “this is inspiration”.  We all know it when we experience it.

Are you having such impact in your presentations? How would your audience rate your presentation skills? If it’s time for some coaching, let us know!

What’s Your Corporate Policy Concerning GROWTHH Time?

You and your children may live to 100+. How will you have a fulfilling work-life balance?

Companies are learning that, in the longevity economy, people prefer not to stop working at the “traditional retirement age”; they want to stay productive for a number of reasons, only one of which is economic. In a world with tight labor markets, how do these companies avoid losing people with expertise and experience?

The answer to both questions involves the effective use of “time-off”.  We call it GROWTHH time: Goal Re-Orientation with Time for Health & Happiness.

Just as constructing a brick building requires the proper cement between the bricks, so too does the need for time between careers/jobs for proper work-life balance. People often take a “break” after concentrating time in one “job” in order to re-calibrate for the next.

Students take a “break” after finishing school.  In Israel, people completing their army service take time to explore the world and themselves, before starting their job. Bill Gates, realizing that Microsoft had not developed an effective plan to harness the power of the internet, took time off to gain a fresh perspective and develop a plan. Like many other corporate leaders, he continued to take time off periodically to explore and think things out. Teachers are granted “sabbaticals”, time off after several years, to refresh and reinvigorate. Forrest Gump took time to run across the country to make sense of his world. People take “gap years” to stop doing what they’ve been doing and think through what should come next.

Another way in which we recognize the need for workers to get in touch with their new roles and appreciate them is to give them time off for work-life balance shifts. If you’re having a baby, you get maternity/paternity leave; some companies give time off to take care of family members, to grieve losses, etc.

The world has changed and we all need more time to reflect on our elongated lives and the longevity economy. Fewer and fewer people have one lifetime career and retire from it and/or in some cases continue working in one “encore career”.  Today, people have more jobs/careers than every before and do so for longer periods of time. Indeed, Roberta Golinkoff & Kathy Hirst-Pasek, the authors of Becoming Brilliant, predict that children today will probably have 10 careers during their lifetimes.

Now is the time for companies to develop policies which give workers of all ages sufficient GROWTH time both to ensure they can lead a fullfilling life and maximize their contribute to the company’s future. This means enabling workers to think of their futures and plan appropriately. Fundamental to all is an open line of communication between the worker, supervisor, HR and leadership.

Older workers, who were raised  believing that they’re “supposed” to retire around 65, need to know that there are many options. The traditional practice of ”cold-turkey” retirement – today you’re working here and tomorrow you’re not – is just one. Many companies are experimenting with “phased retirement”models  that benefit both worker and company. For instance, in a phased retirement process where someone reduces the number of weekly workhours over a few years, the extra time can be used as GROWTHH time to explore next steps: travel, relocation, entrepeneurship, etc. Further, during this period of time, they can explore other ways the worker can contributing in the company: training younger workers, serving as mentor, contributing on innovation committes, providing advisory conulting services, serve as back-up workers, etc. Clearly this is preferable to losing a worker to “leisure retirement” who gets bored and chooses to rejoin the workforce later, including working for your competitor. Phased retirement is a win-win policy.

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