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Archive for May, 2010

By John Gerstner

Presenting the last session of a two-day conference is always a tough act, but Mario Moussa, co-author of  The Art of Woo had no problem keeping my attention.  His presentation was about the psychological barriers that stand between you and a “yes” to your ideas, proposals and initiatives. Woo is Moussa’s idea-selling process, and a way of leading. 

I appreciated Moussa’s presentation style … easy, smart and laced with stories, research findings and humor.  “Depressed people are more in touch with reality than most of us,” Moussa started out, and proceeded to take us on a journey through the complexities of persuasion.

 There are five barriers we face when trying to persuade, he said.  Two are related to you (relationship and credibility) and three are related to your idea (beliefs and values, interests and channels and language). 

 “How does the other person see you? Are you credible?  That’s the first barrier you have to hurdle.” Interestingly, he mentioned research that showed if a person had seen a picture of you before your first meeting, you will come across significantly more persuasive than if your picture hadn’t preceded you.

 “We’re connected creatures, said Moussa.  If the person likes you or sees you as similar, you will be more persuasive.”

 To sell your ideas you have to get in your potential buyer’s head to the extent that they see  you as “thinking their thoughts, feeling their feelings and speaking their language,” said Moussa.

 Effective leaders are credible chameleons. They get inside the skin of their constituents and turn barriers into positives. 

Language, behaviors and beliefs comprise a corporate culture, he said, and organizations are highly political creations.  Ninety-five percent of all organizations are political to some extent and nearly 50% are political to a very great or fair extent.

 “Political skills are the strongest predictor of performance, outstripping by far both intelligence and personality traits,” said Moussa.

 Collaboration involves cross-cultural communications. It’s tough because beliefs are so ingrained.

 How do you get your point across persuasively?  You have to make your case simple, memorable and with evidence, says Moussa. “We’re hard-wired to respond to evidence,” said Moussa. 

 You also go down the path of influence through credibility, persuasion by picking the right reasons, and negotiation which is “perceived conflict that you settle with a trade.”

 Moussa concluded by dropping the surprise that you can’t persuade anyone; they have to lead themselves to your desired end. You can only lead them to take a small action step, which is key because actions drive beliefs.

 He then asked the philosophical question: Do we run because we’re scared, or are we scared because we run? It’s the latter, he said.

 “You’re  not done when the person buys into your idea.  You have to get them to sign on the dotted line, or say they will come to your next meeting and endorse your idea. It’s the action that counts.”

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Cynthia Forstmann, co-founder of allegory studios, took us through storytelling that connects people at a deep, emotionally charged level. She calls these archetypes and she challenged us to discover what archetypes were active in our organizations.

Starting with a mini culture audit, she asked us 10 questions about our organizations. She asked us to go with our gut. For example, would you say that what differentiates your organizaiton form others is the way you transform lives or how innovative it is?  This mini culture audit reminds us a bit of Jung and the Myers-Briggs. What we want to get to is: where are we strongest, how do we learn, how do we get things done?

There are 12 Archetypes. I’m an independent consultant so I decided to do the Archetype of my personal relationship. So, my Archetype is Jester. YIKES! Before I expain what that means, let me tell you about an Innocent Archetype. It’s Ivory snow.  99.9% pure.  The Sage Archetype is about knowledge.  Helping the people understand the world. Discover Channel is a great example. You can get more information about this at www.allegorystudios.com.

Back to the Jester. But before I do that (am I avoiding this or what?), the Revolutionary archetype scores the lowest for corporate america. They are willing to take risks. Apple is a good example. But, innovation is a challenging concept. Our processes of innovation stiffles innovation once the BIG idea is implemented.

Okay, back to Jester. Although it sounds like it wouldn’t have credibility, it’s about enjoying the moment. It’s about enjoying the work and bring out the kid in all of us. Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey is a great example of this. Southwest is another. Don’t they do flying procedures fun?

Whatever your archetype is, the bottom line…when you’re communicating to your employees, you need to know what is important to them. In essence, what is the archetype? If it’s to enjoy the moment, your communication will sound one way. If it’s Revolutionary, it sounds very different. It’s about the future, not the moment. Think about how you use your Archetype to create authentic communications. “When you tap into your Archetype, the messages start to write themselves” Cynthia promises us.

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Bob Kelleher, Chief Engagement Officer of the Employee Engagement Group, shared 13 key work force trends that will challenge organization sustainability. 

The war for talent is not over! The average worker’s tenure is 3.5 years but the Gen-Y workers average only 20 months. Over the next 15 years, the demand for employees worldwide will rise by 33%, but there will be a 15% drop in supply. Those Gen-Yers are going to be able to negotiate their terms don’t ya think?

Second, there’s a new rule…retire retirement! Boomer followers, are you planning to retire any time soon? Bob also suggests, STOP trying to satisfy your employees. Engagement is not about satisfaction. That’s not our job. Our job is to engage employees to contribute to the bottom line. Satisfactionwill follow but it’s a bad message to say to employees “we’re here to satisfy you”. It sets the wrong tone.

India and China are changing the way we look at employment. Remember when our parents said “eat your vegetables. someone in india or china is starving”. Bob says the new reality is “finish your homework. someone in india or china is starving for your job”. Read the World is Flat or, an easier read is A Whole New Mind to get knowledge on this trend.

We need to be innovative. “Anyone can innovate” offers Bob. “Successful firms will go from what people MUST do to what people CAN do” he says.

The virtual employee is the way of the future. IBM states they don’t care HOW the work gets done, just THAT the work gets done. 42% of IBM’s 350,000 employees rearely ever go into the office.

Social networking…..thanks for reading my post….need I say more?

I don’t need to….but I will. The challenge is that social networking allows an ex-employee tell thousands of people how much they HATE your company.

What is your communication promise with your employees? Bob says to create one, publish it, and let your employees know.

Corporate responsibility will be expected. Thomas Friedman, author of the World is Flat (see the China and India comment above) says “tomorrow’s companies will need to have the brains of a Business School Graduate…and the heart of a social worker”.  What do you think about that? Is it possible and STILL be profitable?

Lastly….says Bob…the government is watching. “Never in my life have I seen so much government intervention” he says. Greed is NOT good now…and the goverment will tell you so. What do you think about that?

I’m going to end this now before Bob leaves the stage. Do you have any questions you’d like me to ask him while I can? Let me know.

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Good morning from Philly. Today’s program is expected to continue with challenging conversations about what will sustain organizations of the future, creating exciting and engaging programs, communicating financial results so employees understand, a case study from Campbell soup who have above world-class engagement scores and finally, what’s ahead.

Stay tuned for a recap of The Sustainable Organization but to start your thiking, do you agree that over the next 10 years, employees will be more in demand than customers?

More to come!

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Mario Mousso, co-author of The Art of Woo, faculty member at Wharton, and founder of Moussa Consulting wrapped up day two of conference, speaking to us about persuasion. A critical part of persuasion is self-awareness and situational awareness, which he illustrated through a personal story about his kids.

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Mary Boone got our afternoon sessions under way with an extended interactive workshop on “Tapping Collective Intelligence.”  Mary in president of Boone Associates and an award-winning communication consultant and writer.

Mary sees a paradigm shift in progress in the communication world — from the Information Age to the Collaboration Age.  “This change is taking us away from storing, accessing, manipulating and transferring,” Mary explained, “to sharing, integrating and co-creating.”

The Information Age is characterized by smart machines, traditional organizations, stovepipes and a need to know.  Its metaphor is process and its context is complicated.  The Collaboration Age is marked by smart networks, fluid networks, permeable boundaries and high transparency.  Its metaphor is the network and its context is complex.  This means a shift from broadcast communications, with its emphasis on “tell and sell,” to interactive communications, with its emphasis on “ask and engage.”

In the organizational environment, this has brought about a rethinking of meetings — events where things are not just discussed but work actually gets done.

The old approach to meetings had top-down formats, control from the stage, a largely face-to-face experience, and an emphasis on talk and messaging.  In the new approach, meetings include peer-to-peer discussions, power sharing, an integrated pre- and post format, and an emphasis on engagement and action.

“To get to this new kind of meeting,” Mary said, “I think we need a new discipline.  I’m combining the various skills that I have to help bring about this change.  I think we need a balanced combination of all types of information sharing to make this work: intrapersonal, lateral, interpersonal, broadcast, and feedback.”

Mary talked about the “unconference” approach that uses the well-established large-group methods of “crowd-sourcing.”

“For these methods to be effective,” she said, “you need an understanding of your purpose and an understanding of your participants.”

To give the workshop participants the hands-on experience they need to fully appreciate the effectiveness of this new approach to meetings, Mary invited them to break into small groups to address current communication issues that were selected  by CCM members in a survey Mary ran prior to the conference.

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By John Gerstner

Presentation by Ann Saridakis, Director, Internal Channel Strategy and Delivery, Pitney Bowes

On the scale of portal maturity, most companies start at stage 1, information sharing. BP’s goal is to make enterprise information easier to access and key tasks easier to perform. At end of day, you must show incremental efficiencies. (B to Business to Revenue).

BP started its Sharepoint deployment by asking what employees wanted to do, both employee-to-employee and individual employee tasks.

“Internal communication has to be a part of the conversation when IT is making decisions about what tools will be used to communicate with employees,” says Saridakis.

Inside PB 2.0 includes an employee director with status, quick links populated by geography, business unit and level in the organization. My Links allows employees to add personal favorite website links. There are also tabs for company news, external news and Values to Action. The homepage also includes an executive message, company calendar and a weather app (plus many more features).

Each department has their own layer of governance and publishing gatekeeper. “We have a homepage review board that meets twice a week. Some stories are targeted for global employees, some just for local areas. Departments can establish a SharePoint Team Site where teams can share documents, etc.”.

“We bought the standard client license, not the enterprise license which can be quite expensive. Stage 1 cost under $1 million. This included the ability to do 3 HR transactions (time reporting) and a custom employee directory.”

What is Sharpoint out of the box? Unaltered code — simple lists, controls and pages that produce html. So Sharepoing may not be compatible with your usuability feedback and your design. And the more you customize, the more investment will be required in future upgrades.

Lesson Learned: Ensure you have an executive management champion in addition to your CIO.

BP provides monthly level one publishing training. Employees can customize their facebook-type information in their profiles.

BP has 150 publishers worldwide; 25,000 employees enter their time weekly.  67% preferred the redesign.

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