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    Entries in communication (32)


    Do you trust yourself?

    In this era of swift delivery to market, rapid change and mega transformations, how do we respond in ways that build TRUST in a team, unit, project or enterprise? At the heart of trust is you, me, us.

    The question I think of in building trust is “Do you trust yourself?” Do you trust your ideas, your intuition, your actions, your capabilities?

    I’ll be speaking at hashtag#ITARC19 in Stockholm in May 2019; it's the 12th year of Sweden’s largest conference for IT architects. This year, the theme of the conference is ’trust’.

    Over 2 days, we will look at trust from different angles: a day of conference; then a day of in-depth workshops. My keynote on Day 1 will be ‘Do you trust yourself?’ Then I’ll deliver a workshop on Day 2 on ‘Cognitive Load Coping' - how to handle all of the information that flows to us and around us, how to cope with and counter information overload or that feeling of information overwhelm.

    So what are your thoughts: Do you trust yourself? 


    Match the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work

    Match the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work.

    1. A leader presented the team with a 'roadmap' of what was ahead. It was a spreadsheet table full of words.

    2. A manager discussed the need for a team member to 'step up' and showed them a page with specific details. It was boxes of text going across the page.

    3. A sales team leader presented at the annual conference and inspired the team to 'lift' their performance. They showed a list of dot points going down the screen.

    Our language -- and our work -- are rich in metaphors. If you're speaking in them, then why not show them? ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿฝ Show... a roadmap -- or at least a road! :-)

    ๐Ÿ‘‰ Show a series of steps that rise, diagonally up the page.

    ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿพ Show information that lifts up from the current level of performance.

    Help people make sense of what you're saying and communicating by matching the work to the meaning and the meaning to the work. 


    A story will help you make sense

    This is sense making at work. It's how we connect the dots and draw some conclusions from what was uncertain or complex.

    With Sensemaking rated as a vital capability for the future of work as work keeps getting re-worked, we've got to look at human, helpful and effective ways to make sense - that don't involve drowning in fathoms of data.

    In making sense, stories are critically important. Not so much the telling of stories, rather the hearing, the distilling and the getting to the essence. That's the sense part.

    Even micro narratives, tiny little slivers of a story are worth grabbing and capturing. It could be a phrase, a statement, a couple of words, a slang term or a quote.

    When people drop these little micro-gems into the conversation, look out, grab them and capture them. Reflect them. These will help you make sense.

    It’s a little like how panning for gold might give you hundreds or thousands of little pieces of golden glitter, but no big nuggets. Yet it’s the mounting up of those little shimmers that can give you the right to say you’ve ‘struck gold’.

    So don’t discount the little pieces of glitter, the little slivers of a story, the tiny segments or phrases or grabs. Together they can make some wonderful sense.

    In sensemaking and making sense, you’ve got to tune in those listening skills to hear the slivers of stories; to listen to what people are saying and sharing with you… to capture those.

    Don’t just wait for facts and data. Engage in the anecdotes, the stories, the tales and the telling.

    In my earlier career, my first career, I worked in public relations. Oooh, don't throw tomatoes or boo and hiss. It was good PR. It was community relations. I worked in public health, education, government, training, media, sport. It was about helping people understand what was going on and how they could either get involved … or run the other way!

    Whatever the topic, project, program of work or PR piece I was working on, we always had to craft key messages. When you watch someone present to the media, and if they've been media trained, they'll be delivering their content in sound bites and key chunks - those repeatable, printable, quotable quotes that the media like to broadcast. It's a short chunk of sweet loveliness on the topic. (Oh and at the bad end of the scale are those nothingness quotes that politicians like to sprout. Not those.)

    The same can apply in communication, leadership and workplaces the world over. You need some sound bites and digestible chunks for your listeners and viewers to take in and understand - for your employees, teams and tribes to grab hold of.

    Gather together the little slices, pieces, chunks and cues. Together they can give you incredible sense and help show what people are thinking, wondering, learning, sensing and making.

    Collect the stories you hear - even the tiny little ones - capture them, visualize them, share them and reflect on them… put them together, for they will help you – and the people you’re working with - make sense.


    The Rise of Authentic

    It's refreshing to see books, journals and blog posts speak about how authenticity in leadership and communications matter. How vulnerability is the new black. That when a leader exposes their human underbelly, their teams will connect, be inspired and do the good work. 

    But what's authentic? Gabrielle Dolan's new book Ignite takes a great hit at it. She says it's about being real. Real talk, real leadership, real results. She's spot on. 

    Real. It's needed because too many leaders continue to :

    • Deliver dull PowerPoint packs full of bullet points following a template
    • Use 'insert chart' or 'draw table' commands to put boxes and shapes in presentation documents
    • Spend days and days and hours and hours of theirs and other people's time trying to get a presentation pack looking just right before they send out the 34 pages of detailed, boxy, dot pointed drivel.

    It's so fake it's unreal. 

    The team isn't engaged and they're not really, truly listening. They're busy listening to and thinking other more interesting and inspiring things. Things that involve them, make sense to them and give them an insight to something else, something bigger. That hefty wad of information is not only lacking authenticity, it's dull, boring, uninspiring. They tune out. Yawn!

    So how do you be authentic? Now, today and tomorrow?

    Here's how:

    • Show your people what you're thinking. Your thoughts. It might not all be finalized right now but show them a low fidelity outline, a rough sketch of 'here's how this could look.' 
    • Be honest with them: 'This may not be the finished thing, but here's what I'd love us to think about creating'. 
    • Get their input. What do they reckon. How do they see it? What could they do with it? How could they shape it, share it and drive it?
    • Share your thinking, that's what's authentic and human.That's a start. It may not be the end point but it's the 'now' point. 

    This is the vulnerable leader. They're saying via their behavior : I do not know all. I am relinquishing command and control, I am collaborative leader, leading a team of humans who all have skills, knowledge and tell me what you think.

    Your team, organisation and industry need to know who you are and what you That's authentic. 

    Put it out there even if it's not finished, final and fully done. 

    What happens next that will be authentic! 


    Is there a meme in your message?

    So you've got this message and information you need to share, spread, roll out or deliver to people.

    You want them to take it up, listen to it, understand it, know it, trust it and love it so bad that they'll 'do it' and then share it with others so more people listen, understand, know, trust, ....

    But wait.. what! They're not? They must be. Aren't they?

    Not only are they not sharing it as you'd like, they're not acting the way you'd like. They haven't taken it (fully) on board, and they haven't changed their behaviour.

    In fact it's worse than you think; they have done something with it! They're making fun of it. (Yes they are; just not in front of you.)

    They've found the funny in it. They're sharing that. They've found the laughing bit, the rude bit, the cheeky bit and the risky bit. They've found the part that is shareable ... and unfortunately it's not your PR-speak "key message".

    Every message needs a meme 
    A meme is a central idea, a shareable, viral, culture-based and symbolic message - every message needs ... a meme. Without it, your message is just, bluh.

    That's not to say your change or leadership message needs Grumpy cat or some Rickrolling or even Shark number 2 - but it does need:

    • a clear idea on why they should care
    • an element that just has to be shared with others; and
    • visual punch that hits them between the eyes.

    With the rise of Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Snapchat and other smartphone and visual social sharing tools, you've got to create a clearer visual picture of your message so that it can be passed on.

    'Meme' comes from the Greek word 'mimeme' to mimic or imitate. (Yes, well they might be imitating your message but not how you'd like them to be!)

    Get meme therapy
    Go get some contemporary meme therapy here at Meme Generator and you can see what people are buying in to, understanding, altering, editing and sharing. (I make no apologies for the naughty or 'inappropriate' memes that might be at that link. They're memes after all!)

    Then you can go deeper into the thinking on the physics of it all from Nova Spivack, or check out the research behind memes from biologist Richard Dawkins and his work on evolution and how things spread... (and mutate) including his views on how the internet has hijacked the meme.

    Pause. Before you punch out a list of BS bullet points on that slide deck for your presentation, spend some more thinking time to craft, create and generate something that will stick, transfer, build and ... live on.

    Give them something they want to mimic... for good.