April 2012

Innovation: Get Stand Out Ideas Approved By Showing How They Fit In

By | 2012-04-24T22:23:14+00:00 25 April 2012|Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , , , |

You have just completed two days of brainstorming. You have narrowed your ideas to the fewer, bigger, and better, and are eager to put them into action. Your next step is to share these ideas within your organization for approval to move forward.

While implementation of these ideas may give your company a competitive advantage – position you as the first or the only – they also may be perceived as too scary and risky for leadership. They may end up whittled down to something boring—or perhaps not implemented at all.

A method to reduce perceived fear and risk is to demonstrate how ideas are safe and how they fit in.

Literary Genius

Very often, when you read the description of a new book, the lead-in will start with the following phrases:

  • “Not since …”
  • “In the tradition of …”

These lead-ins are crafted to help us quickly “get” what a new, different book is about by comparing it to something we already know.

“Not since Good To Great by Jim Collins has a book …” lets buyers know this will be like the best selling Good To Great. If you like Jim Collins, you’ll probably like this new book.

“In the tradition of Tom Peters…” lets you know this book will offer a bold Tom Peters-like leadership message.

If this works to help us quickly understand how this new book is like a old book I like or respect… Why can’t we apply this concept to risky ideas? Let people know this new idea is like the old idea we like or respect.

Here are two examples…

(1) “The first time…” becomes “Not since…” – Instead of focusing on the fact that this is the first time your company is trying something, indicate how the idea is similar to some other well-known successful idea. “Not since we over-hauled the training system three years ago have we had an idea that adds so much efficiency and user-interaction.”

(2) If leadership is afraid to be “the only” company trying something, reframe it as “In the tradition of… – This allow focus on how the idea is similar to something you’re already doing, or a successful idea from outside your company. “In the tradition of high-service hotels, we are going to increase our level of service in all sectors…”

As you champion great ideas, emphasize how and where they fit into what you’re already doing. While it seems counter-intuitive, demonstrating how your ideas actually fit in may be the secret to getting you to stand out.

The book description practice is was pointed out by literary agent Raif Sagalyn and described to me by Todd Sattersten, author of 100 Best Business Books. This article was originally published on the MarketingProfs DailyFix blog.

April 2011

Good Presentation Should Only Be Susceptible To Only One Interpretation

By | 2011-04-22T09:40:28+00:00 20 April 2011|Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

You may have already heard this story in a project management or team-building session. It is told today as several people blindfolded… each standing at a different part of (but not knowing it is) an elephant. From their micro perspective each has a different interpretation.

The Blind Men and the Elephant
[click for larger view]

Author Willard Brinton begins his book Graphic Presentation explaining — in 1939 — the importance of accuracy of presentation of charts to ensure truth and clarity of presentation. Nearly 50 years before PowerPoint – people were monkeying with graphs and charts to present how they wanted the info to be interpreted… What am I thinking? I’m sure there’s a fudged chart of hunting and gathering statistics on cave wall somewhere.

You’ll see in the illustration the story begins, “It was six men of Indostan…” Indostan is an archaic term once referring to the Indostandic Peninsula, the former name of South Asia which includes: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and the Himalayan states Bhutan and Nepal. (thanks Wikipedia!)

This graphic is from the book Graphic Presentation written by Willard C. Brinton in 1939. The original story is “The Blind Men and the Elephant” by John Godfrey Saxe.

Next Presentation, Take Your Audience On A Hero’s Journey

By | 2016-08-10T15:47:04+00:00 5 April 2011|Categories: create, SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

A worker ventures forth from their common cube, into the conference room and your wonderful presentation. They are in wonder as you share how they can defeat the challenges the company faces. A decisive victory is won. Now a hero, they come back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow value for the customer.*

A proper presentation should take your audience – the Hero – on a journey from their ordinary world into your special one. They should depart with new knowledge, powers, and confidence they hadn’t realized before your presentation.

How powerful is that?! It certainly ups the ante from slogging through a few thrown-together PowerPoint slides at your next meeting, huh?

In the must-read book Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte, she (among other things) examines models used in story telling to help us create better presentations.

A well written book or screenplay tells a story and brings the audience on the adventure along with the hero of the story. Nancy explains that our presentations should follow the patterns found in great stories. Bring the audience on the adventure.

Nearly every story can be distilled to three acts…

  • Act 1: The story is set-up. We meet likable Hero we can relate to who has a situation.
  • Act 2: A complication emerges that creates a roadblock for the Hero. Act 2 usually has two parts. And,
  • Act 3: The hero finds resolution – a solution to the roadblock that either leads to success or failure. As a result the hero emerges transformed.

A story model featured in Resonate is The Hero’s Journey. It is a basic pattern found in many narratives from around the world and was first described by mythologist (a studier of myths) Joseph Campbell in his book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Just the same way a story Hero has to cross over, take a leap of faith to continue their journey… So too does your audience. You ask them to take a leap of faith to adopt your perspective.

The following are diagrams from Resonance that present the Hero Journey. Gray text explains the inner journey of the Hero. Green text explains the outward journey, the character transformation. The example is from the first released Star Wars movie. I’ve split the graphics into their four parts to make them easier to read.

Click on any of the images for a larger view.

The Hero’s Journey

Hero Journey 464

The Audience Journey

Audience Journey

Act 1 – Set-Up

Hero Journey 1Audience Journey 1

Hero’s Journey
Audience Journey
Here in the Ordinary World the Hero has limited awareness of a problem. Ignorance is bliss, perhaps. A likable audience is unaware they have a problem or opportunity.
The Hero receives a Call to Adventure. There is increased awareness that something more is desired. They are shown a unique idea that brings their world into an imbalance.
The Hero is initially reluctant, and might even Refuse the Call because they’re reluctant to change. They are skeptical, afraid, and resistant to adopt it because it will require change, and change is hard.

One of the things that makes an audience resistant is they can see how tough stages 6 through 11 are going to be. It’s your job to acknowledge that you know how tough the journey will be.


Act 2a – Confrontation

Hero Journey 1Audience Journey 2

Hero’s Journey
Audience Journey
But they are encouraged by a Mentor and begin to overcome their reluctance. (By the way, as the presenter, you are the Mentor.) But a presenter with experience, valuable insights, and magical tools will help on the journey. The audience will stay skeptical and won’t cross the threshold into your special perspective unless you have wisdom to guide them and a useful idea or tool to give them.
An important change has taken place. The Hero has moved from the Ordinary World into the Special World. They’ve crossed the Threshold and are committing to change. So they decide to jump in and commit to the idea.

Your goal is to get them to commit to crossing the threshold and adopting your perspective. Once the audience commits to jumping in, the real adventure begins.

The Hero encounters Tests, Allies, and Enemies and begins to experiment with the first bit of change. Now the real work begins, but it’s hard. people and things oppose the effort to change.


Act 2b – Confrontation

Hero Journey 1Audience Journey

Hero’s Journey
Audience Journey
The Hero approaches the Inmost Cave and prepare for a big change. They are determined to push the idea forward and being to work on new skills to be successful.
And endure an Ordeal. They’re attempting big change. They take a major step toward your idea, and it doesn’t quite work out as they’d thought.

Their commitment will be tested, and they’ll need to renew their loyalty to the idea over and over before it’s reality.

They take possession of their Reward. They feel the consequence of their attempt – the improvements and setbacks. They get discouraged and consider giving up on the idea, but they begin to see some benefit from their effort.


Act 3 – Resolution

Hero JourneyAudience Journey

Hero’s Journey
Audience Journey
They take the Road and cross back over to the Ordinary World. This threshold serves as a rededication to change. They decide to continue on with a renewed excitement, even though resistance around them is chronic.
They experience a Resurrection and are transformed by the experience. Utilizing their new tools, they try one final time to push the idea forward and are victorious.
Now that they’ve mastered the problem, they Return with the Elixir – a boon or treasure to benefit the Ordinary World. The idea is widely adopted and the galaxy is a better place.


Okay, Now What?

Next time you have a presentation to give, follow the path of the blue wheel, The Audience Journey. Show your audience an idea that brings imbalance. An idea that they now feel needs to be a part of their life. Know they’ll be skeptical but show them valuable insights and tools that will help them on the journey…

*My opening is a reinterpretation of the hero’s journey in The Hero with a Thousand Faces. “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

Images are © 2010 Nancy Duarte. All rights reserved.

February 2010

Five Better Ways To Remember Lists

By | 2010-02-12T11:03:36+00:00 12 February 2010|Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , |

Be sure to stop by the MarketingProf’s Daily Fix blog today (Friday) to read my post offering “better” ideas to remember short lists… That is, better than writing them on your hand. (It should post by 10 am EST).

MarketingProf’s Daily Fix
“Five Better Ways To Remember Lists”

As marketers and business people we are constantly called upon to be the expert – the champion. I offer a few ways that will help you promote that image.

Have a great weekend.

May 2007

Return on Investment: Illustrated (Understood)

By | 2016-05-18T15:53:23+00:00 15 May 2007|Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

Ah, the beauty of a good diagram. Picture = 1000 words.

We’re familiar with the term ‘return on investment’ or ROI. Have you ever thought through the relationships of the elements that make up ROI? Neither have I.

Here is the chain of formulas that build the ROI equation:

  • ROI = Profits / Investment, and…
  • Profits = Sales x Margins, and…
  • Margins = Price – Cost

Take a look at this same relationship illustrated…

I’m almost excited about ROI when I view this diagram. I “get” it now. ROI isn’t just about your PR budget as it relates to an increase in sales… You can see that margins, costs, and price are also factors.

It’s not rocket science… but illustrated… ROI becomes something easier to grasp.

Use this example to break down and tackle challenges. Draw them. Don’t worry, they needn’t be fine art. Discover relationships between the parts.

Transforming your problem into pieces you can view and maneuver will help you reveal the solution.

[click on diagram to download a larger PDF]

January 2007

Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

By | 2009-03-06T12:25:42+00:00 15 January 2007|Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , , , |

Ever have information you need to present but just don’t know how to organize it? Knowing a picture is worth a thousand words – something visual would be just the trick.

Get inspired by the Periodic Table of Visual Methods on the Visual Literacy website.

Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

(Click images for a larger view).

Visit the website and roll your mouse over any ‘element’ and it presents you with a sample image of that visualization method.

Parameter Ruler Detail

I can’t wait to use some of these… A well-presented tool and an awesome resource.