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    Entries in environment (4)

    Tuesday
    Dec302014

    They're playing your song

    Some further research from the Kellogg School talks about the power of music and how it's a mood shifter and energy maker and enables us to be more open and productive.

    I think if you're not using music to your advantage, you're at a disadvantage.

    Sports performers listen to tunes to pump themselves up or calm themselves down. Cafes and restaurants know the power of music to create a mood and ambience.

    I've previously posted on creativity and using 'boarding music' and the role it can play in setting a scene. Further, on a recent flight with Emirates, as a few hundred people were boarding a massive A380 aircraft, I Shazamed their boarding music and found it was 'Browns' by British DJ and Producer Trus'Me - a pleasant and upbeat, chilled out track. On repeat throughout the entire boarding process, it set a sweet scene and it matched the brand and the modern flight environment of Emirates. 

    What's your song? Hey, let's put the 'Theme from Rocky', Queen's 'We are the Champions' and Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger' aside for a moment... I'm not talking about that type of music! (Although if those sort of tracks get you going, great.) 

    Rather I'm talking about some music for your team or workplace, workspace or event that sets the scene, changes the mood and ... may not have been heard by the team before! If it's new music to their ears, there's the potential to create new memories, new states and new ways of working. 

    2014 has been the Year of Rufus for me; Rufus (or in the US they're known as Rufus Du Sol) is a great independent Australian dance group and they have produced some music that may not be known by many of the people in my sessions and workshops. I find it's inspiring and uplifting music, and there are plenty of tracks of different moods to choose from. People always ask me in my public workshops and sessions 'hey, what's the music you're playing?'

    I like to create a new 'mental stamp' in people's minds; so they're doing great work and the accompanying soundtrack is likely new to them. It becomes a 'production' of sorts - they're working on stuff and I'm providing a framework, a process... and a very cool sound track for it. 

    I never rely on the music that the venue, meeting room or function centre has on hand. I'll choose and create a playlist on my iPad or iPhone and use that for the team, session or workshop. That's because Pachelbel's Canon may be one of the most recognisable pieces of music in the world (and oh-so many venues have it), but it's also most chosen for funerals and that's not the work I do with teams and leaders! Classical music may not always be best. 

    Well known pieces of music dig up memories. Music helps people recall break ups, meet ups, parties, partings, holidays, people, feelings, weather, food, favourites and failings. Choose carefully. 

    Westpac Bank ran a business women's conference and workshop over ten years ago and I can still remember the music - it was 'Suddenly I See' by KT Tunstall. It was such a new piece of music ... back then in 2004!

    That tune was played at the start of the day, in the breaks, and as we walked out of the event. It was a fitting tune for entrepreneurial women of the day! 'The power to give, the power to be, the power to see, yeah yeah!' When I hear it now, that song has embedded memories for me of that place, those messages, that theme. But to play it now for an event... well you'll dredge up everyone's individual memories of that song. 

    I'm always on the look out (or rather listen out) for music that is new, has broad appeal, doesn't have offensive lyrics and will match the mood I'm aiming to create.

    The organisers of an innovation event I presented at recently missed a musical opportunity. Here was a full day of people learning, participating, speaking, contributing and innovating .... and it was quiet in the spaces in-between. It felt dull. Like something was missing. There were missed opportunities to shift the mood from speaker to speaker, from space to space at the event and given the times of day when people can be a little drowsy, moods could have easily been shifted and the energy lifted. The music could have reinforced the theme, the message, the energy and the state you want people to be in. 

    So what's your song? What music would be playing that would get you up on a mental dance floor? What music positively changes your mood and shifts your energy? The earlier research from the Kellogg School I mentioned has some great hints about bass, beat and treble!

    How would I know when they're playing your song?

    Wednesday
    Mar192014

    Keep the energy up *clap clap*

    Talented chef and restaurateur Neil Perry has a number of fine eateries in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney in Australia. And if you've flown on Qantas you will have tasted some of the great food that the team he advises has created for cruising altitude. 

    Have you truly seen him at work? Yes, he's been on TV plenty of times and he's been interviewed and shared his recipes ... but have you seen him work?

    He does work! And I love his style. 

    In the kitchen at the Melbourne Rockpool restaurant (exposed to diners in that modern, transparent, 'look-at-what-we're-creating-for-you' style that is a big part of restaurants today) I've seen him leading his team on several occasions. 

    He's not a loud, shouting and cranky chef as many of the stereotypes have us think. 

    But he does make some noise. 

    *clap clap*

    Yep, he delivers a double clap to create and sustain some energy, pace and delivery among the team. It's probably his way of saying 'now come on, step it up, let's get that dish to the servery', 'where are those oysters' and 'what's happening with that Waygu?'

    *clap clap*

    It's a tool I've adopted in my own office to motivate the team that is me. It keeps the energy up. It can celebrate when a task or project is completed and it also tunes the ears into thinking, sounds and what's going on.

    Too often people can drift off into their internal worlds when you'd prefer them to be focusing on the here and now.

    I'm not suggesting you go around and clap in the face of people who aren't participating in a dull meeting, or who are quieter contributors in a workshop. No... just remember that you are able to shift and change the energy in an environment. And if that's an environment you're responsible for creating, then there are times when you will need to do something.

    *clap clap* is Neil Perry's way of keeping the energy up, keeping the team focused.

    What can you do to inject energy, maintain focus and creating stimulating environments for your team?

     

    Monday
    Dec232013

    The Conference Cringe List - Part 2

    Following on from, curiously, Part 1, there are more things at the events I am often speaking at or graphic recording for that make me cringe. These spotted in the past fortnight. 

    Onward...

     

    • Why that uninspirining 'holding slide' of the event logo, name and the word 'Agenda'? Bluh. It's so uninspiring. Use full size visuals or some slides (plural) to outline the agenda or use none.  
    • The currency you need to focus on is time. That's what people are really spending when they're there. Make the event efficient, engaging, creative and 33 times worth the price they are paying to be there. 
    • That theatre-style seating you've arranged and the interactive speaker you've got on the program, are not a match. If the room is jammed with seats because the venue you have is too small, you've failed. If you've attracted more people than you thought, you needed a bigger venue. 
    • The long, seemingly unrelated items on the agenda are nauseating. Have section themes for focus and make it build up to a crescendo, not whimper off into a corner.
    • That awesome adventurer/motivational/inspirational speaker you paid for (wow they were good!) has just been negated by your dull executive who wanted some 'air time'. What a waste of time, money, energy and the result of your poor planning and flow. The mood has changed and it's on you to bring it back up again. Good luck!
    • And that dull executive that wanted the 'air time' - oh dear... so focused on trying to get a key message across, they had no heart, no soul, no passion. D-u-l-l. That equals no leadership. They're not as good as they think they are at presenting. You are stronger than you think you are to persuade and influence them to not do it or do it very differently.
    • Doh - You made it about you the organiser again! Why do you say 'when WE were designing this day we thought...'. Just deliver a brilliant event. You'll be thanked for it. You don't need to claim the designer kudos in the first three minutes. 
    • No I'm not going to 'bear' with you while you 'read this out' - and then you read a written story, list of points or other wad of information you're already feeling bad about reading out. Frame WHY you're reading it and then get on and read it with your best acting skills, as if you're an Academy Award winner on their 12th take. Sell it to me. I'm not bearing with you on anything, particularly if you ask me to.
    • Ok, you have a cold or flu. Gee, thanks for telling me as your first key point. Now I'm not going to shake your hand or be within breathing distance of you, all day. No need to apologise. Don't say a thing about how you feel. Get on and do great work speaking, presenting, leading and inspriring.

     

    Yeah, there are more. I'll definitely need a Part 3. 

     

     

    Friday
    Mar152013

    Space matters

    I worked with a driven group of industry leaders yesterday, developing their skills in working collaboratively with groups and capturing their innovative thinking. 

    The day was a huge reminder about ... space.

    The venue 'bumped us' from the booked space we had that was light, airy and open - perfect for thinking, breathing and creating ... to the 'under the stairs' space. Actually, it was next to the stairs. 

    Next to the stairs that were the thoroughfare for those other light and airy spaces upstairs that were being used by larger groups with bigger names. 

    The space was dirty, dusty and a disaster waiting to happen. Health and safety issues in all corners of the room : tripping hazards, temperature challenges and all round uncomfortable.

    We adapted, moved things, liaised, worked around stuff and carried on, keeping it in perspective and working to be collaborative, innovative.

    But it was there... all day. It was this 'thing' that was there. The 'space' thing. 

    I'm certain it restricted our thinking, impacted on our performance and didn't allow for our best work to be done. 

    If you've got the option to take the cheap space... don't. And if you've got an option to not run a session, to change the location, timing or other arrangements ... do. 

    You're investing so much time, energy, dollars and people that the space they will work in - where you're wanting them to do their best work - really does matter.