blog, diversity, facade, Toby Elwin

Diversity façade, part 1

Intelligence does not guarantee insight. However, diversity does. The very leverage of knowledge is dialogue. And dialogue, a true exchange of ideas and opinions, is only possible in an environment that welcomes and fosters diversity, not the diversity façade, but the diversity lever of possibility. Although diversity can be a sensitive and often incendiary issue, I want to focus on diversity’s greatest benefit: the birth and exchange of ideas and perspectives. What is the goal of diversity in the workplace? Why is diversity an important topic? What are distinct, tangible benefits of diversity in the workplace? I feel diversity efforts attempt to build an environment where qualitatively, diverse individuals are expected to provide insight, cross-learning opportunity, and opinion. However, what too often results is the extreme opposite: a retreat to group-think and the dilution of individuality to a normative environment …

conversation prism, Toby Elwin, blog

Communication in the age of saturation, part 3 visual

In two prior blogs, Communication in the age of saturation, part 1 and part 2, I outline our communication challenge to break through filters and biases that people initiate to manage information overload and communication saturation. In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “what I began by reading, I must finish by acting”, I present a powerful display that might help in your communication assessment and planning effort: The Conversation Prism, by Brian Solis and Jesse Thomas and updated to 4.0, available in 6 .jpg sizes, and as a wall poster.  [post updated 04/16/2015] Communication Saturation, No Thank You Since money and time are both finite resources we all struggle to manage, this Conversation Prism visual may provide a strategic tool to maximize your effort. When you look at this visual representation think through: What vehicles do you currently us? Do you use current communication vehicles or options in their …

Death of a Salesman, communication, Toby Elwin, blog

Communication in the age of saturation, part 2

People don’t care what you are selling. People want to know what makes their life better. Is your communication effort designed to interrupt people? Communication saturation is about overload. Think of the filters you put up around your world to manage the saturation of information and decisions you have to make. What percentage of today’s decisions do you make from a telemarketer, billboard, or yellow pages? Conversely, what decisions do you make from a friend’s recommendation, a web page, or a Google search. How can you expect others to not weed your effort through filters? Even an effective multi-tasker is flooded with tweets, social media messages (Facebook), RSS feeds, emails, phone calls, and text messages. Our challenge, as communicators, is to get our message delivered through the deluge of information and communication. Noise Filter To cope with marketing communication saturation, people …

cone of silence, communication, Toby Elwin, blog

Communication in the age of saturation, part 1

The goal of communication is to be understood.  In the age of communication saturation action is the objective. Typically, the first piece of communication advice is: know your audience. When you know your audience – their interests, their lingo, their needs – you better relate to their communication style. When you know their style you can write and speak in a way that they understand. Of course once your audience understands they can then act. In this age of communication saturation your employees, customers, and other stakeholders are under the same constant communication barrage as you and me. Our connected world (interestingly, when wireless we are still connected) has not altered the advice to know your audience. Barrier to Entry To know your audience means you know the barriers, channels, and filters in place that block communication. If received, people …

bugs bunny, tortoise, hare, Toby Elwin, blog

Emotion versus intelligence — the tortoise and the hare

In my Culture war post, I advocate Emotional Intelligence as a more important quality job interview criteria than a corporate or team culture fit. What Emotional Intelligence means (EI) and does not mean as well as how to discern sides in EI* vs. IQ debate means more than emotion versus intelligence. Where IQ intends to measure the ability to reason deductively or inductively. Much has come to light to say it is wrong to expect the higher someone’s measure of logical reasoning, math skills, spatial skills, understanding analogies, and verbal skills [IQ]. IQ is intended to measure intelligence as if IQ is a proxy for expected success. The alternative key to success measurement found not on in how one thinks, but in behavior and interaction with others using communication skills:  EI. EI intends to measure how you motivate yourself and others and, critically, far …

In review: Leaders and fishing

May 2009 in review.  A roundup of blogs from the previous month: Leaders and fishing — Leaders craft the vision and convey how to embark on a course from what is to what could be.  Leaders must rely on their managers to manage, but leaders need to roll their sleeves up and steward the message far into and across the organization themselves. Culture war — The people who don’t fit your culture are the people who keep your business and your team sharp, they aim beyond the horizon, challenge the status quo, drive new conversation, and stimulate cognitive diversity.  Recruiting for culture fit may be an organization risk. What can a 5 year old teach you about leadership? — People are insightful and quickly see through words not followed with action. Organizations who hang core value posters without backing up all …

goals, fail, help, Toby Elwin, blog

How goals help us fail

March 15th I read an article in Boston’s Sunday Globe Ideas section on how goals have a dangerous side. The article called Why Setting Goals Can Backfire jumped-started my thoughts on goals. The past two weeks I have spent time thinking and scribbling notes all over this article. I thought I’d share some. [the .pdf file is here] In both my personal life and professional life, setting goals seemed a piece of time-honored advice for success. Goals allow me to align my effort to a larger strategy; measure progress and accomplishment; and allow for course correction along the away. Setting goals was a great way for me and my clients to communicate a concrete picture of the future-state, inform stakeholders of a tangible effort, and align an organization towards achievement. However, Drake Bennett, the article’s author reports that goals create …

buy in, change management, Toby Elwin, blog

Buy-in is broke

In organization change I always avoid any effort that includes the term:  buy-in. You may hear the term in some variation of the following: “now we need to get (insert stakeholder here) to buy-in“. I have never been comfortable asking anyone to buy-in to a strategic plan, a new product launch, or an organization change. Buy-in sounds too much like slippery salesman’s jargon. I don’t need the person or the team or the organization to buy-in and because then there is a risk they may feel something bogus was sold to them.  I don’t need surprises or revised sales job to get move my message. Don’t ask people to buy-in to something. Instead invite them in to what is happening. Communicate with them. Draw them in. Share with all those impacted difficulty ahead you see ahead.  Ask them for their view.  Ask them …

leaders, managers, blog, Toby Elwin

Leading and managing

Managers manage. Leaders lead. Are these roles so different? Managers are charged with a budget to manage resources against. Time needs resource management. People need resource management. The manager needs to deliver to their budget and align their resources to successfully enable their team’s role to perform against the plan. Does this allow a manager to maximizing their talent, to cultivate creativity in their team, or to take risks? Leaders shape a vision. Leaders look beyond the horizon for opportunity and threat, calculate risk, and communicate goals. Leaders are responsible for results against their vision. Leaders make change, but look towards their managers to execute tactically. Very simply: managing resources may compete with the ability to develop and communicate a vision.  The skills for management may be entirely different for the skills needed for leaders. Perhaps one set of skills …

culture, war, Toby Elwin, blog

Culture war

Does your company have a hiring philosophy to find people who fit into the company culture? Do you interview people to fit into the culture of your division? Do you interview people to fit into the culture of your team? Why do we look for people who will fit in when what your business needs are people who stand out.  What good is it to hire for culture fit when we work and live in a dynamic world where change is constant?  You may not want change in your personal life, but you better be building for change in your professional life. Don’t believe in change?  Look at the Fortune 500 from 1998, how many companies are no longer on the Fortune 500 2008 list? Do the same with the S&P 500? The Russell 2000? The English Premier League? Nice …

leaders and fishing, Toby Elwin, blog

Leaders and fishing

I focus a lot of ink and irony on root-cause analysis around how a leader affects their organization. Though it may seem people are responsible for their own motivation, the assumption a leader provides leadership is far too variable to count on for results. People, rightly so, have their own view, their own filter, their own experience, and their own goals. These rarely align to an organization or a team. So, what’s a leader to do? The leader as the figure-head is responsible for the organization’s health. This is a lot of responsibility. The majority of leadership effort to connect and guide involves a leader’s acknowledgment to own each piece of their effort: every communication, every communication vehicle, every interview, every speech, and every phone call Each mode of verbal, non-verbal, and intuited communication is a cue that the organization looks to and …

control, creativity, Toby Elwin, blog

Fast Start — How limits boost creativity

Fast Start conversation:  Working under constraints seems to stifle creativity. Design under constraint can boost creativity and in this Wired piece, Design Under Constraint:  How Limits Boost Creativity, Scott Dadich offers:  good designers understand a power within limits. How does constraint offer an opportunity for growth and innovation? The worst a designer can hear is “do whatever you want”; imagine where Kind of Blue would lead you?

leadership, Toby Elwin, blog

What can a 5-year-old teach you about leadership?

When an organization’s words do not match action, who is to blame? How many companies have you seen or worked with that have literature, speeches, employee handbooks, or marketing that just does not match the actions or culture inside the organization? Ever been around a company with printed materials that talk of putting people first, but do not provide flexible schedules or project opportunity for staff development? Ever been around a company committed to diversity as long as no one offers a contrarian view? Hand in Hand What does a child of 5, or even 2, do when a parent does not follow through? They ignore you. They break you down with tantrums or arguments and do as they see fit without fear of your follow through. People, at every age, are insightful, quick to see words not followed with …

change by design, Brady Bunch, architect, Toby Elwin, blog

Culture by design

Strategy meets people where they are. People connect in communities of interest more than ever, but the connected world demands the water cooler or coffee shop is no longer a physical place, but a digital space. Within a constant state of change collaboration, resilience, and failing fast are assets. The only way to start doing things correct is to start doing things right. A move from chaotic change towards intentional change requires decision-making strategies that include: Knowledge of what is, Goal-oriented design, Prediction (guesswork) of what might be, and Resource risk If conditions remain the same you might expect your strategy and goals to deliver as intended. Time for Sacred Cow Tipping Change is the only constant, but only if constant change were linear than success would track to expectation. Since change succeeds only when behavior changes, anyone expecting linear …