What we've been thinking about and working on lately...

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I seem to have found myself talking to teams and also individuals during coaching about how their actions have been misread / misunderstood and caused problems. Recovering from these incidents can be tricky for people as they feel things have ‘got personal’.

So I found the way through was to ask about their intentions. Sometimes people need a while to think about this, but they are always able to articulate what it is they are trying to do / achieve / change in the scenario. And it is always positive and constructive. When I then ask them how the other person (s) would behave towards them if they understood this very positive intention – then again, the answer is virtually always positive (“Oh – they’d be really happy to support me / or debate constructively / or help”).

So what’s the problem? I think it is because we are so busy that we act first and expect others to quickly and easily understand or interpret our intentions. Of course they don’t, and it is even more tricky with e-mail. So the recipe is to ensure that you explain your intentions first, then this becomes the filter for people to respond to your actions. Without this  filter in place, then all they have is one of their own filters – and people have many to choose from based on past experience of you, your reputation, their mood etc etc.

Some of the most successful, constructive and innovative sessions I have seen have been where groups have been really clear about their common intentions and then robustly challenged each other’s views/ideas/perspectives to get an even better collective outcome. Without challenge there is little innovation......

It’s a basic idea – but then when we’re busy we do forget the most basic things. Which reminds me.........better get some lunch (written at 15:33pm!)

 

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London 2012 was the breakthrough games for the summer Paralympics.  The recent winter games in Sochi arguably proved to be an even greater breakthrough. The majority of people didn’t even know there was a winter Paralympics.  After all, how much of Vancouver 2010 did you watch on TV?

Sporting competition is possible in Paralympic sport because of classification, the system that creates the framework for athletes to compete against one another.  On first glance it appears labyrinthine and indecipherable but it works in the same way that classification works in Boxing.  You can have a featherweight champion of the world and a heavyweight one.  Both are equally good but are not going to be seen in the ring together. 

The difference is that classification of disabilities and impairments is not intuitive.  Bundle that in with peoples’ perceived insecurities in discussing disability and its easier not to bother talking about it at all and that was exactly the approach of broadcasters prior to the London 2012 Paralympics.

In place of this knowledge was an underlying tone in broadcast presentation that glossed over this series of rules maintaining the long held idea that the audience couldn’t possibly understand it.  So they should just accept that they were there and that someone much wiser had thought it all through.  So relax, sit back and appreciate the heroes that we are about to place before you.  What?!!?

Why is football so popular?  Is it because everyone watching is wondering what’s going on, or is it because everyone understands every last second, therefore feeling they can express and opinion? (for better or worse)

As for heroes, who are yours?  I bet you can say why you hold each one in such high esteem.  Each one the result of series of conscious decisions defined by parameters that enabled you to gauge what each hero/heroine had achieved, empowering you to choose which ones were special to you.

In using explanatory innovations like the LEXI graphics system, Channel 4’s coverage of London 2012 was the first time that disability classification in sport was just treated as an extension of the rules.  The risks were huge.  Would the audience find it offensive, too unpalatable or just plain boring?  Would they desert for other channels leaving a tiny audience of die-hards behind?

London 2012 turned out the highest audience figures that Channel 4 had seen in ten years.  Sochi followed in the same vain building on the new fans of Paralympic sport.

  1. Engage with your audience/customers by telling them fully about what you are doing.
  2. Make the explanation itself engaging.  Good enough to be a product in itself.
  3. Allow people to generate an emotional engagement with what you are doing on their terms and they will be more numerous and faithful than ever.
  4. Have a cup of tea and a cheeky smile at having done something new.

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So I found myself working with a group in Birmingham last week. Part of what they are doing is creating business plans for 2020, and so I was helping them consider 4 different perspectives: People, Technology, Innovation and Customers. Aside from some of the interesting trends in each of those 4 areas (see previous blog post), what I especially enjoyed was the venue.

Now when I first heard ‘Birmingham Library’ as the venue, I was imagining some dusty facility with people tiptoeing around and ‘sshhhh-ing’ anyone with the gall to raise their voice. However, I was delighted to discover a fabulous new facility which has been recently opened and has been thoughtfully designed to ‘facilitate learning’ rather than ‘provide information’. I couldn’t help myself but grab a member of staff and quiz them about the layout and the operation and the intention. It is the largest library in the UK, the largest public cultural space in Europe and services 5,000 people a day.    

At the back end of last year, we designed an event around ‘The Future of Learning’ and this facility is a wonderful example of how to embrace peoples’ changing needs and leverage technology and design to inspire people to learn. If you haven’t been – make a side trip next time you’re in the area.    

As we start to plan our client work this year, it’s given me a timely reminder about ensuring the environment / location is carefully selected or modified to make it engaging for the team to learn. This can be an afterthought for many team events, but we have learned it can be critical – and so the search for interesting venues in 2014 commences.....

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