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    Entries in simplicity (4)

    Thursday
    Apr252019

    The secret to leadership is simple

    'The secret to leadership is simple’. So said Seth Godin ... and he says many wonderfully frank, clear and compelling things.

    The concept, behavior and practice of leadership can get complicated and confusing - especially when you’re in the thick of it.

    Like when you’re dealing with the human side (which is most of the time), or handling conflict and tension or leading through a significant and unsettling time of change (which is most of the time).

    The slide deck from that leadership program or your ‘colour’ from that diagnostic tool might not help you so much when you’re waist deep in the tricky stuff.

    Seth’s quote below here has been a helpful guide to me. So much so, I “elevated” it : that is, I took the words and made an artifact, an anchor, a reminder of it, and put it in front of my face where I can see it...to remind myself to not make leadership too complicated.

    Has leadership become too complicated? What helps you with leadership?

    Tuesday
    Aug202013

    Take a big bite of simplicity 

    I took a BIG bite out of the Big Apple over the past two weeks in New York City at the International Forum of Visual Practitioners conference. 

    One of the session leaders, Michelle Boos-Stone, referred to Dan and Chip Heath's great book 'Made to Stick : Why some ideas survive and others die' (also called 'Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck'.)

    Right up there, the number one thing that helps ideas stick is that they're  s-i-m-p-l-e. 

    Dan and Chip Heath say:

    "It's hard to make ideas stick in a noisy, unpredictable, chaotic environment. If we're to succeed, the first step is this: Be simple. Not simple in terms of "dumbing down" or "sound bites". You don't have to speak in monosyllables to be simple. What we mean by "simple" is finding the core of the idea. "Finding the core" means stripping an idea down to its most critical essence."

     

    You might think you know that and do that. But I think we can all do it better. I was providing visual strategy support to a team conference recently where the leader was striving to get people onboard to new ways of working, three new priorities, some new processes, changes in organisational values and .... so much other 'stuff'. How could the team find their way through all of it to implement and lead on it? 

    It would have been refreshing, more impactful and courageous for that leader to find the core in all of that noise. What was it that was truly the priority? Forcing prioritisation is powerful. "Message triage" is what Dan & Chip call it, from one of their case studies and stories in their book.

    Look at something you're now trying to make stick. Find the core, strip it down, what's the real priority? What do you really need people to get a hold of? Communicate that bit.

    Sunday
    Apr212013

    Bright lights, big production

    You know the scene : big arena, 10,000+fans, stage set for a live concert, pre-concert music playing...

    Then the lights go dim and the artist hits the stage. Bam! They're on!

    Usually at a large concert there is an oversupply of lighting, mini fireworks, massive visual extravaganza and all other sorts of visual effects. It's part of how it's done these days. 

    But last night at the Bryan Adams concert, things went a little more 'old school'. 

    Celebrating 20+ years in the business, he had a string of recognisable hits to pump out. And it was a brilliant concert. 

    What impacted me so much was the 'pared back' staging and production. It was the band, on the stage with some Marshall amps. The so-called visual extravaganza was a large screen behind the stage, showing footage from three roving camera crews. And the footage was tinted with a sweet sepia, black and white tone. 

    This style gave the audience a look at the gig from all angles. It was so simple. And it so worked. It was very smooth and it let Bryan's lyrics and the band's music be the star. 

    I was reminded of Leonardo Da Vinci's quote : Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. 

    So true. It was simple, clean and clear. It was sophisticated. The clarity of what this gig was about was crystal clear. 

    Pare back your own production extravaganza this week.

    Delete the elements that aren't really needed.

    Get rid of the fluff, the fireworks and the pizzazz that you think you need to dress up your message.

    Pare it back to get to the clarity of the message, the content and the bigger picture. Simplicity is the best gig of all. Rock on!

     

    Monday
    Sep032012

    Visualising TEDx Melbourne 

    It was a thrill to be at the recent TEDx Melbourne event - not on the stage as a speaker, nor in the audience. I was on the sidelines graphic recording as the speakers presented on the topic of Education Leadership.

    Three 18 minute talks showing a global, state and local perspective of leading in education. As the room was being set up before the event, and the TEDx banners and signage were put in place, the speakers did microphone sound checks and a had a final run through of their talks.
    Then it was show time; the speakers presented, the audience listened, and I listened too... capturing in the moment the key themes I was hearing. Here's the end product - a large wall chart. At the end of the evening I was interviewed for a podcast (the edited link is here) by the guys atEdTechCrew (the full podcast) about graphic recording and using visuals as well as words. 

    So... if the stage was yours, how would you structure your 18 minute TED talk? How would you start off? What would your key points be? What stories would you tell? How would you finish?

    There were more speakers to listen to this week at the LAST Conference (Lean, Agile and Systems Thinking) in Melbourne. I presented on the topic of Visual Collaboration and also captured several of their presentations using the ipad. Several speakers had more than 18 minutes to fill and so I wondered, how did they prepare? What were their key points? I was tempted to walk over and 'pull the plug' on the data projector and slide show a couple of times! Too much reliance on what was on the big screen, not enough faith that their content and thinking could be delivered even more powerfully without the technology. 

    As Leonardo Da Vinci said "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". It's not always quick to simplify, but it's most effective and most engaging in a busy firehose-full-of-information world.

    Get closer to simple before you stand and deliver your next talk, presentation or workshop. Your audience will be engaged and it will be memorable for the right reasons!