Archive for June, 2011

Video Storytelling at Its Best

Friday, June 24th, 2011

Video storytelling is coming on strong as a business communication tool, with the majority of executives surveyed reporting that they would rather view a video than read written messages. As video communications gains momentum, it’s becoming increasingly important for all types of organizations to understand how to use the medium.

Here’s a powerful example of how to tell a story visually in just three minutes. It’s obvious why this was the Grand Prize Winner of the Philips Tell It Your way competition.

StoryCorps Collection Growing

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

The StoryCorps collection of oral tales about the American experience keeps growing, totaling 30,000 interviews with 60,000 participants since launching in 2003. This past weekend the mobile story van visited Lexington, KY, for the secoond time and recorded stories from 300 people.

Initially the only permanent recording booth was at Grand Central Station in New York, but in the ensuing years permanent booths also have been installed in Atlanta and San  Francisco. Two mobile units launched in 2005 have collected stories in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

All the interviews collected will be archived permanently in the Library of  Congress at the American Folklife Center, and stories are also edited and played  on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. Information about the project is available at

Read more about the recent visit to Kentucky at

Stories Drive Marketing

Monday, June 20th, 2011

It’s tough to know exactly why business is slow…or is it? Maybe you just need to do a better job of telling your story.

A great article in “Fast Company” describes how marketing guru Martin Lindstrom fostered dramatic turn-arounds for three small Mom and Pop businesses with simple, low-cost changes. In all three cases, representing totally different types of businesses, he made strong emotional connections with prospective customers. For two he used straightforward, traditional storytelling techniques; in the third case he made simple changes that created the right mood for a restaurant. Read the article at

How can you make a tweak or two that will make a huge difference for your business?

Five Ways to Win Employee Support for Change

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

Do your company’s leaders understand what inspires employees to change their behavior?

Companies that want to engage employees need to have psychological insight, says John Marshall Roberts, who offers five proven strategies for inspiring employee engagement:

1) Start small by selecting a specific behavior to address, such as recycling or energy consumption

2) Develop a targeted campaign to shape the particular behavior being addressed

3) After behavior has started to change, capture the momentum and apply it to other changes

4) Use successes in achieving small changes to build up “psychological momentum”

5) Make the effort to view the world from the other person’s or management level’s perspective in order to gain consensus

Why Employees Don’t Support Change

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

According to a study by the Richard Ivey School of Business, one of the most common reasons employees don’t support change in the workplace is lack of sufficient communication. Other common reasons are 1) failing to invite input, and 2) not understanding the challenges employees encounter when they try to make changes.

“There is nothing more frustrating than ambiguity and lack of clarity,” the article says. “Change is natural and…is to be expected. But there still needs to be a good reason for change and it needs to be clearly articulated. People want to feel part of the change and that they have a role to play…. Being left alone is lousy. It doesn’t work in business culture, it doesn’t work in public or private companies, and it doesn’t work in families.”

An article in Western News says the study focused on municipal management but the findings are applicable to other types of organizations. The conclusion: All organizations need the support of employees to enact significant change, so it’s important that leaders overcome the common mistakes in efforts to win commitment to new initiatives and procedures.

Ken Blanchard Says You Need Only One!

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

“Only one that you stick with.” That’s Ken Blanchard’s answer to the question, “How many leadership training programs do you need?”(He also points out that the same answer applies to the question, “How many diets do you need?”)

Another of his views on leadership training that I heartily endorse is that teams should be trained together.Otherwise, if just one person from a team attends a training session, as is often the case, any valuable techniques and behaviors learned will be confusing or puzzling to the person’s co-workers when s/he returns to the office. As a result, no matter how valuable the new learnings may be, they likely will be dropped so as not to create a disturbance. What a waste!

Blanchard’s comments are contained in a video clip on Elliott Masie’s website to promote his upcoming LeadershipDev 2011 conference next week in Las Vegas. Masie interviewed three featured speakers and posted video clips of each.  In addition to Blanchard, the other clips are of David Gergen and Tom Peters. Go here to view them:

One Company’s Culture Shift: Turnover Reduced 66%

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Beaulieu of America, one of the largest carpet manufacturers in the U.S., is a stellar example of corporate leadership that recognized the culture needed to change and committed to doing it. In just five years, the company reduced turnover 66%!

It was a change that was sorely needed, as reported in CFO magazine.  At the outset, turnover at the company was “abysmal” at 50%; five years later it had dropped to 17%. Among the benefits was an astounding dollar savings. With the cost of replacing each employee averaging about $5,000, the company is saving $11.5 million each year!
With the help of consulting firm HPWP, Beaulieu brought the company’s actions in line with its message, which cultivated mutual respect and trust across all levels of the organization. “So many companies say they want to be employee-friendly, but their actual policies say something different,” says Beaulieu’s CFO, Del Land. “That was true of us.”
The chief factor in achieving the culture shift, Land says, was turning over the hiring responsibility to teams of employees. The employees who will be the new worker’s peers now select new hires. The reason this works well is that employee teams choose people who will fit into the group. As a result, the new person is surrounded by people “who want him or her to succeed.”