Getting your ideas across – from concept to fruition

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Alternate Title:
Making your ideas happen – in five easy steps

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Ideas » creativity » innovation
Graphic image titled “Getting your Ideas across – from Concept to Fruition”, showing a chasm with a construction crane on one side; the left side is labelled “CONCEPT”, the right side “FRUITION”; the boom of the crane is straddling the chasm, and is moving a large package labelled “IDEAS”. This is about moving IDEAS from CONCEPT to FRUITION.

Making an idea ‘happen’ can be quite a challenge. While coming up with new concepts can be fun – bringing our ideas to fruition often involves a lot of thinking and some hard work!

Ideas are the force behind creativity – they usually begin with a concept. Innovation occurs when an idea is developed and the concept becomes a reality – i.e. it is brought to ‘fruition’ (I am using the term ‘fruition’ because it literally means “enjoyment” [See Note 1.]).

Many years ago a colleague told me “the problem with ideas is that everybody has them, however few ideas ever really come to anything” [Ken Dentice – this is for you!] This same sentiment is reflected in the 2002 Accenture advertising message “it’s not how many ideas you have, it’s how many you make happen” [See Note 2.]. The fact is that coming up with fresh ideas (i.e. concepts) is the fun part, while executing the ideas (bringing them to fruition) is usually the hard part.

There is an ancient Greek proverb “necessity is the mother on invention”. It does seem that when we are faced with a problem, small or large, our creativity kicks in and ideas begin to flow. We all have ideas – and inspiration can strike at any time of the day or night. I don’t know how many times that I have been wrestling with some issue, gone to sleep, and woken up with an idea of what to do. Continue reading >>>

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Voice AND vocabulary – keys to your success

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Alternate Title:
Your ‘vocal image’ affects your credibility

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Voice and vocabulary

To start, let’s define the terms:

  • Voice – the sounds made when we speak or sing.
  • Vocabulary – the range of words we know and use.

Our voice is one of our most recognisable features – it is a central part of our personal brand. It is also our main means of communication. Depending on how we use it, our voice can be a valuable asset – but for some it can also be a handicap.

Along with our voice, our vocabulary is another core part of our personal brand. The range of words in our vocabulary will have much to do with our experiences, our aspirations, our intentions, and our connections.

Together, our voice and our vocabulary form our ‘vocal image’.

Graphic image titled “Keys to Your Success”, showing outline image of a human, with the label “Your Vocal Image”; text on the left of the image reads “How you say it …. Voice reveals: - your emotions, - your nationality, - even your age”; text on the right of the image reads: “What you say …. Vocabulary reveals: - your knowledge, - your intelligence, - your education”

Our voice and our vocabulary make up our ‘vocal image’. Whenever we speak, our audience gets two messages. One is what we say – our vocabulary. The other is how we say it – our voice.

Continue reading >>>

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Don’t let subconscious behaviour damage your brand

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Subconscious behaviour can hurt your personal brand

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Subconscious behaviour

Have you ever found yourself doing something without even realising it was happening?

We all do many things without any conscious input. Some of these are just part of being alive (breathing, maintaining our balance as we move, scratching an itch). And some come from habits that we have developed (biting our finger nails, rolling our eyes when someone says something we don’t agree with, sniffing repeatedly, tapping or drumming our fingers, talking to ourselves).

Whether it is about ‘body functions’, or about habits, according to some research, up to 95% of our behaviour is controlled by our subconscious mind. While none of the above habits are likely to be life-threatening, any or all of them can become irritating to others around us. And that is the catch here – we can be doing something without even realising it. But while we are completely oblivious to what we are doing, we may well be damaging our reputation, i.e. our brand.

Graphic image titled “The Human Mind”, showing a human brain outline, overlaid with “Self-conscious” [upper 20%] and “Subconscious” [lower 80%]: Self-conscious area shows the following labels – Thoughts, planning, judgement, reasoning, problem solving, will power, and decision making; Subconscious area shows labels – Memory, emotions, beliefs, feelings, learned abilities, behaviours, perceptions, instincts, habits, reflexes, addictions, and body functions.

The human mind consists of a self-conscious part and a subconscious part. Research shows that the vast majority of our behaviour is controlled by the subconscious mind (up to 95% according to some sources). While learning to control certain body functions may not be possible, taking control of habits and behaviour can be achieved.

Continue reading >>>

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The art of asking GREAT questions

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GREAT questions uncover fresh ideas

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What is a GREAT question?

Let me tell you what I mean by “GREAT question”. There are ‘questions’, there are ‘good questions’, and there are even ‘great questions’. When I use the term GREAT, I am meaning a question that causes serious engagement between the ‘asker’ and their ‘respondent’ – a question that stimulates thinking, inspires creativity, and creates enthusiastic discussion. As a rule, the discussion should lead to fresh ideas, leaving both parties feeling motivated and empowered.

Effective questioning is a skill

Questions are important to our learning and communication abilities. Most of us will ask a number of questions every day to seek and obtain information. Usually this is to support our decision-making, or to increase our personal knowledge and wisdom. Yet, curiously, there is little formal teaching about ‘how’ to ask effective questions in our mainstream education institutions (schools, universities, polytechnics). Unfortunately, the same holds for other key communication and learning skills such as: listening, explaining, paying attention.

Animated graphic showing six key points for framing questions: 1. Ask only ONE specific question at a time; 2. Keep questions neutral, avoid 'inferring' answers; 3. Follow a 'closed' question with an 'open' one to probe and clarify; 4. Wait 5-10 seconds for an answer before re-phrasing; 5. Do NOT interrupt an answer - listen carefully, observe any body manguage; 6. Keep notes about your most effective questions, and about any that lead to unexpected answers. The animation highlights each of the key points in turn.

By asking questions that have been well thought through, we can steer the direction of the conversation, while also building rapport with our respondent. Our aim should be to encourage constructive and candid responses. This will help our respondent to reach their own conclusions, which leads to both learning and ownership.

Continue reading >>>

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Keys to teamwork success – focus and strategy

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Successful teamwork needs focus and strategy

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Why focus and strategy?

Have you ever observed a really good team in action? Whether it’s sport, business, military, or even politics, there are two things that set a good team apart from ‘the rest’:

  1. they have a ‘focus’ (i.e. they know what must be achieved), and
  2. they have a ‘strategy’ (i.e. they know how they will achieve it).

I started this Post while on my sojourn to the Adelaide Clipsal 500 V8 Supercars motor race weekend, which is Australia’s largest domestic motorsport event. While I enjoy the racing, I also like to look at the teamwork that is on display. Not all of this is at the racetrack, as catching an early morning breakfast before heading to the track also provided some interesting observations of teamwork. This year I decided to look at how focus and strategy affect teamwork.

Graphic image showing there are two things that set a good team apart from ‘the rest’: a. they have a ‘focus’ (i.e. they know what must be achieved), and b. they have a ‘strategy’ (i.e. they know how they will achieve it).

There are two things that set a good team apart from ‘the rest’:
a. they have a ‘focus’ (i.e. they know what must be achieved), and
b. they have a ‘strategy’ (i.e. they know how they will achieve it).

Continue reading >>>

Categories: Leadership & Management, Teamwork in operation | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

What drives employee loyalty?

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Alternate Title:
Workplace loyalty – how does it work?

 

Employee loyalty and Gen Y

Every now and then there’s a headline telling us that employee loyalty is on the decline.  Often it is noted that Gen Y is at the forefront of this trend [See Note 1].  Does Gen Y really have an attitude about employee loyalty that is so different to that of Baby Boomers or Gen X – or is this just another ‘beat up’ on Gen Y?

I note that when comparisons are drawn about the employee loyalty qualities of Gen Y against those of earlier generations, what is often overlooked is the impact of the economic and societal changes that occurred across this time period (circa 1945-1996).  I will come back to that later – first I want to take a bit of a look at loyalty in a more general sense.

Graphic showing two members of Generation Y at the entrance to YourWorkplace.INC - they are confronted with a doorway wher labels direct "Loyal" employees to the left, and "not Loyal" employees to the right. The caption explains that "Supposedly Gen Y is at the forefront of the declining trend in employee loyalty. Which door do you think the two Gen Y employees should take at YourWorkplace.INC?"

Supposedly Gen Y is at the forefront of the declining trend in employee loyalty.
Which door do you think the two Gen Y employees should take at YourWorkplace.INC?

What exactly is loyalty?

Loyalty is something that we all know at least a little bit about.  Many of us participate in loyalty programs that offer discounts and rewards when we are shopping or travelling.  Some of us are examples of brand loyalty – e.g. Apple products (one or two of my Apple-loving colleagues have taken their loyalty to the next level – apparently that is called “brand affinity”).  And then there is loyalty to sports teams, political parties, and so on that we chose to align with.  The bottom line here is we usually receive something in return for our loyalty – e.g. a bargain, a feeling of status, or a sense of ‘belonging’.
Continue reading >>>

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Seven Personal Skills that Employers want Most

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Alternate Title:
The skills you need to get that job!

 

Personal skills that are in demand

Each one of us has a set of ‘personal’ skills and personality characteristics that either limit or enhance our job opportunities and career prospects.  When we are seeking a new job, or looking for a promotion, our chances depend very much on how well our personal and ‘technical’ skills match the needs of the position (and on how well we ‘market’ these skills, etc.).

So, in this era of ‘disruption’, as whole industries struggle for survival, and companies strive to reinvent themselves to cope with rapidly changing markets, are there any particular personal skills that employers seek more than others?  Data from a number of surveys conducted by universities, career organisations, recruitment agencies and business councils over the past five years shows a common demand for several personal skills [See Note1].

Even when employers are targeting different levels of staff (i.e. entry level, supervisor, mid and senior-level management), the list of ‘in demand’ personal skills remains consistent, although the order of importance may vary.  Those of us who can demonstrate that we possess such skills should be well placed when it comes to job-seeking and/or promotion.  From these surveys the top seven ‘in demand’ personal skills are:

  1. Communication
  2. Problem Solving
  3. Interpersonal Relations
  4. Planning and Organising
  5. Learning
  6. Interview
  7. Leadership

Note:  Each of the above actually consists of a number of more specific skills; for that reason, I consider them to be ‘skill sets’.

Graphic shows the top seven personal skill sets sought by employers when recruiting; the skill sets are: communication, problem solving, interpersonal relations, planning and organising, learning, interview, leadership and management

Based on a range of employer surveys over the past five years, these seven are the most in demand skill sets for job applicants to display.

Continue reading >>>

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Everybody wants Highest quality, Lowest cost, Shortest time

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Quality, cost, time

Quality, cost, time – these are three things that affect almost everything we do:

  •  how well we do it
  •  how much it will cost to do
  •  how long it will take to do

Is this important?  Yes, absolutely it is – because everything we do will affect our reputation in some way!  Whether it’s in our professional lives or our personal lives, the things we do contribute to how others (managers, co-workers, colleagues, contacts and connections) come to regard us.

Now, if we are having some work done for us, quality, cost, and time will almost certainly be three key elements behind our selection of who will do the work.  When I am having something done (professionally or personally), I am looking to get the best possible result, for the best possible price, in the best possible time.  However, ‘highest quality’ at ‘lowest cost’ in ‘shortest time’, is not realistic.

Animated graphic showing the pairing combinations of quality, cost, and time: best quality plus best cost is unlikely; best quality plus best time is possible; best COST plus best TIME is most common

A commonly taught ‘rule’ is that any piece of work can have the best of any two, but not all three, of quality, cost, and time. While this may sound reasonable, as a ‘rule’ it is WRONG – a ‘best quality’ plus ‘best cost’ combination is only likely to be possible when all associated processes have been highly optimised.

Quality – what is it?

Most of us know that whatever the piece of work is, a good quality job is likely to require more time, which inevitably means an increase in cost.  So, whether it is for a professional purpose or a personal need, if we really (Really!) want a quality result, are we prepared to (1) wait for it, and (2) pay for it?  Often, the driving factor in our selection is cost, i.e. we have a set budget.  Or it might be that we have a specific ‘required by’ date, which will make time the driving factor.  Continue reading >>>

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Ready or not, disruption is here – NOW!

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The word is ‘disruption

The word is disruption – something that is happening now in almost every industry and across every nation. There appear to be few, if any, barriers or borders to disruption. It has happened to me, and if it hasn’t yet happened to you, chances are that it soon will. Throughout my adult working life, I have both contributed to the disruption of a number of workforces, and I have also been on the receiving end of disruption. On more than one occasion, both were happening at the same time – I was supporting the disruption that eventually disrupted me!

According to the ‘experts’, disruption occurs when something new (an ‘innovation’) arrives and it dramatically changes the way that an industry or a market works. The recognised ‘guru’ of disruption is Harvard Professor (Business Administration) Clayton Christensen, who identified “disruptive innovation” in the mid-1990s. One of his examples was the personal computer. From its rather low-key arrival in the late 1970s, within 10 years the PC had disrupted the minicomputer industry. Within another 10 years this industry was totally decimated; meanwhile, having taken over in the workplace, the PC was fast becoming a household item.

Disruption affects industries, economies, society, and individuals - there are few, if any barriers or borders to disruption

There appear to be few, if any, barriers or borders to disruption. It used to take years for disruptive innovations to dominate a market and destabilise incumbent industries and products; now the disruption can occur virtually overnight.

Continue reading >>>

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Power presentations that create WOW (in 4 easy steps!)

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About power presentations

A power presentation is one that ‘captivates’ its audience, holding their attention throughout.

WOW is when an audience is greatly impressed and responds enthusiastically to the message.

A power presentation that creates WOW is almost certain to produce the intended result (i.e. something is agreed, approved, sold, or understood).

Presentations happen all around us, every day, e.g.  sales pitches, job interviews, business proposals, etc.  You or I may even find ourselves doing the ‘presenting’ on occasions.  When this happens, knowing (and applying) the secrets to a successful power presentation is vital for success.

A few weeks ago I was given some advice that will enable us all to design power presentations that create WOW – not just once, but every time that we are presenting.  It happened while I was sitting with my friend Pen on her balcony in the warmth of a Singapore evening.  With our men folk, we were enjoying an absolutely scrumptious curry, and ‘chewing the fat’ over all manner of things.

Pen’s prescription for power presentations

Pen’s prescription for power presentations – animated graphic illustrating four slides: 1st. the bottom line, i.e. the result or decision you want; 2nd. the facts, i.e. how, who, what, why, when, and any risks; 3rd. the figures, i.e. the expected costs and the payback; 4th. confirmation of what you want, and a commitment to that.

Use your slides for a visual cue, NOT as a detailed justification

Continue reading >>>

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