Monday, February 27, 2006

Where Do Employees Come From?

Every child is an artist. The Problem is how to remain an artist once (s)he grows up. --Pablo Picasso

Continuing from the last few posts:

What about the relationship between a observation and analysis -- the space between sight and insight -- demands attention for successful business practice?

Executives are not the only ones who are challenged by sustainable innovation in this way. After all, executives -- and their business habits -- come from their work as employees.

So where do employees come from? And how do they end up in that Box so many bosses complain about?

In addition to need for and challenges of sustaining curiosity and understanding the value of need for and conflict, it's also essential to build sustainable disciplines for practices of observation and analysis.

Like the complete group of practices with which it combines for sustainable creativity in business, insight is only possible by understanding from the beginning that you don't know the answer. It also requires balance, focus, practice, and persistence.

Here's a case study to further illustrate the point.

Background: Learning a Credible Pitch

Fifteen participants gathered for a course in self-presentation. Each brought to the class more streets smarts than formal training.

The Set Up

One by one each participant made a pitch for a new perspective on an idea or product. Each story was prepared beforehand, and each lasted about five minutes.

The Challenge

It quickly became apparent that the participants were struggling to discover a physical gesture to support the meaning of their words. Each participant looked for body language that would put across a genuine investment, connection, and belief in what they were saying. None succeed in finding a way of moving, standing, or emphasizing points that seemed naturally connected to the story.

Even the Smoothest Talkers Go Blank

Remember, all of the participants had given very effective pitches before. But in this classroom, they seemed to search for gestures out of the air, as though they had never done this before.

The problem was that none of the participants had consciously observed and noted their own past presentations. Put in new circumstances, they felt lost.

None had focused on process in past pitches. Because they had all concentrated only on results, they couldn't transfer the skills that were strong in familiar environments and with familiar subject matter.

Without the usual cues in familiar contexts, they all went blank.

More on this in the next post.

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