Sunday, June 24, 2012

Advice Off the Internet

Good morning.
"And the beat goes on......................."

There is a lot of advice available off the internet.  Some good, some silly.  Google is a good search engine, but it doesn't curate for you, and so finding things of value is often hit and miss.  Much of the good stuff that comes your way comes from someone you know directly or someone several degrees of separation - a kind of guerrilla curation I suppose.  Anyway, here's three pieces of advice I found recently on the web - or which came my way - which you might (or might not) find of interest:

1.  From my favorite site Brain Pickings - Mary Popova offers Five Things Every Presenter Should Know About People (so as to make more effective presentations) - Watch the animated video as she makes a very effective presenter herself:
1. "People learn best in 20-minute chunks. There must be a reason for the successful TED-sized talk format.
2.Multiple sensory channels compete. During a talk, you engage both the auditory and visual channels — because we’re visual creatures and the visual channel trumps the auditory, make sure your slides don’t require people to read much or otherwise distract from the talk.
3. What you say is only one part of your presentation. Paralinguistics explores how information is communicated beyond words — be aware the audience is responding to your body language and tone. Record yourself presenting to get a feel for those and adjust accordingly.
4.  If you want people to act, you have to call them to action. At the end of your presentation, be very specific about exactly what you would like your audience to do.
5.  People imitate your emotions and feel your feelings. If you’re passionate about your topic, this excitement will be contagious for the audience. Don’t hold back."

2.  From Katya Andresen's Nonprofit Blog:  Why you can’t have a huge, active community paying attention at all times.
"I’m often asked, “How do we scale our dedicated fan base?”
Here’s the challenge.
A lot of organizations (both nonprofit and for-profit) start with a dedicated following.  Then they try to grow their community bigger and bigger. Along they way, they keep talking to their audience as if it was one, homogeneous audience. But it’s not.  A lot of people lose interest, because they care about different things.  The audience starts disengaging and dwindling.  And you might end up with a small audience that isn’t dedicated at all.

That’s the rub.

As Clay Shirky said in his book, Cognitive Surplus, “People differ.  More people differ more…and intimacy doesn’t scale.”  He says everyone wants three things:

1. A large group of people
2. An active group of people.
3. A group paying attention to the same thing.

It would be nice and easy if you’re in nonprofit marketing to have that be possible.  But the problem is, you have to pick two.  You can’t have all three at the same time.

So decide.  As you grow and your audience diversifies, are you willing to segment that larger group into smaller groups?  And talk to each of those smaller groups in a different way, based on their interests? It’s what you need to keep growing. One message does not fit one mass."

"If you're missing the sense of achievement that comes from translating ideas into results-delivering reality, then chances are, it's because of one or more of these four reasons:

1. You have no idea how decisions are really made. Whether you manage a business, division, department, project, or team, you have to understand the path of information. How does information arrive into the group, how is it processed, and how is it turned into action? 
Once you understand the process, ask yourself: Does the information flow get snarled? Does a decision have to be run by three different people before being approved? Or does your accounting software fail to give you high-quality data in a timely fashion? These examples are gaps in the process--gaps that will come between the ability of your group to make a decision.
You may want to really map out this process. Trace the path of the last two or three decisions your team made that weren't effectively and efficiently executed. Map where the necessary information came from, the main communication lines and key decision points.
When you're done, if you can easily make sense of what you see, all is good. If it looks like a rat's nest of intertwined, overlapping, dead-end-reaching lines, then you need to simplify your group's decision-making process.

2. You're a micromanager (Yes, you!). The ability of a group to execute effectively can be crushed by just one micromanager.
Can you see the micromanager in your group? They're easy to spot. Find them and make them stop.
But if you can't find one, here's the thing: It's probably you. Micromanaging is so easy to see in others, but is much harder to see in ourselves.
Here's a full-proof test: Pick out the single most productive person in your group. Watch closely at how they get things done. If it includes finding multiple innovative ways to bypass you, then you're the problem.

3. You're rushing the decision. Remember when your business was small and life was simple? 
Now, life isn't that simple. Your business has grown and now has many more moving parts. And, chances are that the growth in complexity happened iteratively, over time, and like the proverbial frog in slowly heated water, you haven't noticed the effect on your decision-making.
Here's the difference: In the smaller, simpler business, you can make a decision fast, and implement it quickly. Now you have a larger, more complex business, making decisions fast actually slows down the implementation process--sometimes crippling it entirely.
Why? Because you made the decision so fast you didn't take into account all the variables (people, customers, systems) involved in your now more complex business.
Once a business has grown beyond infancy, speedy and effective implementation depends on slower decision-making. Not slow--you don't need to descend into to paralysis by analysis--just slower. Take a little longer to make the initial decision, and watch the rate of implementation rise. 

4. You've worn everyone out. You're a passionate, engaged leader. You're intellectually curious, innovative, and not afraid of risk. You're full of great ideas and keen to implement them. Your people respect and admire you... and they're exhausted.
Do your team members avoid you on Monday mornings? Do they look apprehensive when you return from a two-week vacation?
If so, it's because they know weekends and holidays are dangerous times because that's when you come back to the office with five brilliant, must-do projects--even though they haven't finished implementing last month's brilliant, must-do projects.
If you suspect this might be you, then do yourself and your team a favor. Keep a list of all current projects. When you have a blinding flash of creativity which produces a new project, instead of simply adding it to the list, make a conscious, explicit decision about which existing project to drop off the list in return.
You'll find that compared with your existing priorities, many of those 'brilliant must-do's' just aren't that important, and those that do make the list will stand much more chance of actually being implemented."
Food for Thought (from the Web):
  • PEW Report on the Rise of Asian Americans Overtaking Hispanics as the largest growing immigrant population.
  • Blue Avocado Nonprofit Newsletter considers the problem in Board composition of  our "focusing our attention on what people are, rather than on what the organization needs board members to do."
Have a great week.

Don't Quit.

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