Wednesday, 29 October 2014

"I want an Idea every Tuesday Morning"

All of us know that creative and innovative ideas are needed for the growth of the organization. No matter how smart we are,  we don't know everything . Ideas are precious, but hard to find . 

Here in this post , I present a couple of real life situations which will make us realize why we make it either difficult or easy for the employees to be innovative and give creative suggestions.  The situations are suggestive and I hope self explanatory. 

Situation 1 

"I want an idea every Tuesday Morning ... " the boss roared.  

"Senior managers like you should be innovative . Where are your ideas ?  "

Tuesdays came and Tuesdays went, but no ideas could be generated. The boss roared and ranted , picked up the marker , went to the whiteboard , paced about , but ... no ideas ! 

Exasperated, the boss complained to me  "I want to listen to them  , I want suggestions, but it seems that their lips are sealed !"  

I asked him softly " Have you established a receptive climate for them to give ideas ? You know, just like you cannot force anybody to love you or respect you, you cannot force ideas from your team. The atmosphere has to be conducive... "

"But whenever I give any idea, all of them nod their heads in agreement, I know they have good ideas, but when I ask them to tell me, they just say that they want to go along with whatever I said !"

I did some talking around and then I again went to the boss and said "Are you sure that in the past they have not given you their ideas or suggestions ?  Think deeply. Did you reject them outright with sarcasm ? That is why they do not speak out. They feel what is the use - Our boss cannot take disagreements . Our suggestions will anyways will not make any difference ...!

Read my Post : I don't Agree

Situation 2 

Veeru always kept her office door open.  She was proud that by doing so, she encouraged her staff to come and see her anytime with their problems , complains, issues and suggestions.  

But hardly anyone came.  They were allowed, but then why didn't they come ? Maybe they did not have any problems or issues. But they worked hard and Veeru was sure that they had good suggestions which would help the organization. She was also under pressure from the Corporate office to get innovative ideas . 

One day , one of her managers resigned and she was a part of the exit interview . 

"You have been in the organization for quite a long time. Tell me one thing. I always keep my door open and this is an encouragement from me that anyone can come and talk to me about problems or suggestions. But somehow , no one comes. Can you tell me why ?"

"To tell you frankly, people know that the doors are physically open but psychologically closed.  Whenever someone comes , there is a look of annoyance on your face. It seems either you are too busy or people are not welcome to open up in front of you ... "

Veeru pondered over the discussion. She consulted her friends . Then she started keeping her door partially open. She set aside certain time of her day when she closed her laptop and smiled at people who came near the door. She started looking at their eyes during conversations and tried to be genuinely interested in what they had to say. 

Things improved dramatically. 

Situation 3 :

Anne believed in Management by walking around. (Read my post : Recipe for Successful Leadership : MBWA) She always walked about in the factory floor where the toothpaste was manufactured and packaged.  She asked the staff how things were . She also reviewed the process changes, machine maintenance status , problems reported earlier and she asked them about these and elicited comments about the progress and the problems being faced by the changes. She usually got innovative ideas and suggestions while walking around.  The people also knew that she wanted to hear them and if the ideas were good, they were appreciated and implemented. 

For example,  for the last few months there were customer complaints that there were many packets which were empty, i.e, the toothpaste was not put into the packet but were shipped to the suppliers. Lots of brainstorming was done.  Consultants were deployed who spent a lot of effort and money and gave a complex solution, involving major costs and augmentation of manpower. One day, while walking around, she saw a worker who was in the packaging area, he had put a forceful pedestal fan where the packets were being finally being packed after putting the toothpaste tube into it. Anne went and asked him why the fan was needed. 

"Well.  I have directed the fan towards the packets. If any packet is empty, it will be blown away and I will be able to detect that it does not have a toothpaste tube inside it !

Marvelous, isn't it ?

There are several other situations , but maybe I will talk about them in one of my next posts. 

In the meantime ,think about  how you will reject ideas without hurting the employee and without causing resentment.

Also, think, why the usual suggestion boxes kept in almost all the offices never get any thing in them! And put your thoughts in the comments below !

Till then , Ciao !!

Monday, 20 October 2014

How many times should you try ?

All of us have read the story of  Robert Bruce and the Spider. 

How the king - Robert Bruce, after being defeated 6 times was lying in the woods when he saw a spider weaving a web. Every time the spider tried to throw the thread to make the web, she failed and fell down. The seventh time the spunky spider won. This inspired the king to rise again and finally he won the battle. 

But in real life , how many times should we try ? 

Let me tell you the story of KFC . 

At 65 years of age, Colonel Sanders was broke and just  owned a small house in Kentucky.  He made a decision that things had to change. He loved to cook and his friends liked to eat the chicken he made at home.  The fact that this was the only novel idea as well as skill he had, he decided to act upon it.
He left Kentucky and traveled to  different US states to sell his idea. He would tell restaurant owners that he had a chicken recipe which people liked and he was ready to give it to them for free, in return for a small percentage on the items sold. He got rejections after rejections, but did not give up. In fact, he got over 1000 rejections.
He got 1009 NO’s before he got his first Yes. 
With that one success Colonel Hartland Sanders changed the eating habits of the whole world with Kentucky Fried Chicken, popularly known as KFC.
A few more counts : 
  • Steven Spielberg was rejected 3 times by the University of  Southern California before he decided to become a director
  • Sylvester Stallone was rejected 1500 times when he tried to sell himself and the script of "Rocky"
  • J K Rowling was rejected by a dozen publishers. Her first Harry Potter book got published because the CEO's 8 year old daughter begged him to publish it. 
  • Beethoven's teachers thought him to be hopeless in music. He composed his greatest works when he was completely deaf.
  • Vincent Van Gogh never saw success in his lifetime. But his works are considered to be the greatest paintings ever done .
  • Finally Thomas Edison. He only lasted three months in school where his teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything." He eventually was home schooled by his mom. In talking about his invention of the light bulb, he said :

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.” - Thomas Edison

It is up to you to decide how many times you should try before giving up !

Thursday, 9 October 2014

7 Tips for Managing Content of the PPT

One day, when I was discussing some office matters with my brother,  my mother asked me . "Why do you always have to give presentations ? That too in office ? How much do you spend ? Do you always gift wrap it ? "

Both of us did not speak for a few seconds trying to comprehend her words.  It took us more than a few seconds to make her understand "presentation" in a business context. The vagaries of English language !!

Love it or hate it, you have got to use presentations because audiences expect it.   There are three basic tasks : Managing the content, creating appropriate supplements and delivering the content.  

I will elaborate on the first point in this post.

Managing the content :  
    • Content is the meat of your presentation.  This is what gives the presentation its weight and importance. But the content has to be organized in a meaningful way so that the audience knows why you are talking , Ask yourself "What do I want my audience to know ? "

    • The main point should be divided into sub-points.  This provides clarity as well as readability.  

    • Never ever put too much content on the slide. This will divert the attention of the audience from you towards the written words.  So, the content creation should be done very carefully . The main essence should be put on the slide , but the elaboration and the explanation should be done by your delivery. 

    • Also, the general claims you make in your content has to be supported for credibility. If you just say that " The company has made huge profits this year" , you should display the statistics of growth. Remember that pictorial representations makes greater impact than mere numbers. So, have fun with pie charts, bar graphs and histograms !

    • A picture talks a thousand words.  Again, be careful that your slides do not look cluttered.  Select an appropriate picture and make it the background.  This makes the slide look professional. Choose colours that contrast well. 

    • It goes without saying that the sentences should be grammatically correct , with a consistent capitalization style.

    • Use the notes section of the ppt. Since you will put short simple sentences - the best practice is to put not more than 6 bullet points , with each point not having more than 6 words in it, be sure to use the notes. This will help you practice and remember your talking points.  

Hope this helps. 

I will write about creating appropriate supplements and delivering the content in the next post.

On a lighter note,  I had attended a seminar a few years back when a speaker had started her talk without a presentation . She had made a powerful opening sentence , which I still remember . 

"If you have a powerful point to make, you do not need a powerpoint " !

Ciao !

Monday, 6 October 2014

Teeny Weeny : Sequined Mariage Veil

He opened his eyes and saw her standing near the bed.

"The veil has golden sequins... please get me a new one without sequins.  My neck really hurts ... see ... my skin is red ... it hurts ... "

She had hung herself from the ceiling fan two months back with her sequined red marriage veil.

Teeny-Weenies will spice up the monotony of the leadership posts . Hope you like them.   
 Looking forward to your comments