Archive for April, 2015

Virtual Storytelling Is the Future

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

The future of storytelling is here!

Rather than simply listening to a storyteller or watching it unfold on TV or a movie screen, virtual storytelling technology enables people to actually experience–and influence–the story. After years of experiments with so-called “Smell-o-Vision” and 3-D movies, people now can actually immerse themselves in the action virtually. “Sensory Stories: An Exhibition of New Narrative Experiences” is currently on exhibit at Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. It runs through July 26th and then will go on tour.

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Birdly Thanassi Karageorgiou / Museum of the Moving Image

As Margaret Rhodes writes on wired.com, the most sensational of the techniques in the show is Birdly, pictured above.  By lying face down on a padded platform and slipping your arms into a set of plastic wings, you can experience the sensation of flying over, zooming in between buildings with the wind blowing through your hair.

Other displays allow a person to get caught up in the emotion of the story and to actually participate in weaving the story. All in all, it’s a fascinating look at what the future of story looks–and feels–like.

Exceptional Leaders Enliven Vision through Infectiousness

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

In a recent post (March 26), I wrote about effective communication as one of the 12 behaviors of exceptional leaders  identified by Travis Bradberry, president of TalentSmart & co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0. Today’s topic is another of the 12: infectiousness.

Infectiousness isn’t a trait that usually is cited as a key leadership skill, but I suspect it’s because that trait is often described differently. It could fall under the oft-mentioned “charisma,” “charm” or “engaging personality,” or a number of other descriptors. Infectiousness also could be encompassed in other characteristics, particularly passion, which is another of the 12 behaviors on Bradberry’s list. But I like the fact that he calls out infectiousness to stand on its own because unless the leader’s passion is expressed in a way that employees “catch the bug,” it won’t have a lasting effect.

As Bradberry explains, “Great leaders know that having a clear vision isn’t enough. You have to make that vision come alive so that your followers can see it just as clearly as you do. Great leaders do that by telling stories and painting verbal pictures so that everyone can understand not just where they’re going, but what it will look and feel like when they get there. This inspires others to internalize the vision and make it their own.”

untitledStarbucks’ Howard Schultz is a great example of infectiousness. First, he looks for employees who share his customer-centered values,  including a desire to contribute to their community. Building on his belief that “people want to be part of something larger than themselves,” new employees, or “partners,” as Starbucks calls them, undergo 24 hours of classroom training. The company also pays for additional workshops and classes that partners choose to take.

New senior leaders are put through a four-month “immersion in the Starbucks culture” to ensure that everyone understands the coffee business from start to finish. And Schultz emphasizes the values that comprise the culture by sharing his “unbridled enthusiasm and love” for the company at regularly-held district meetings.

Quoting the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, “The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.”

Employee Engagement, Culture, Leadership Top Issues in 2015

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

2015 Predictions by Bersin In his “Predictions for 2015” report for Deloitte Consulting LLC, Josh Bersin underscores the need for organizations to re-direct their focus on employee engagement, corporate culture and leadership. Why? Many employees are “overwhelmed” and employee engagement and retention is at an all-time low.

“While many people are still looking for work, more and more people are getting fed up with the 24/7 work environment…so they go to social websites like LinkedIn or Glassdoor.com”– and they get job offers. The companies that win the competition for the best and brightest employees are those that are “focused on mission, culture, and leadership,” Bersin says.  “They understand that people are not ‘talent'”; rather, the most desirable companies to work understand that employees are fully-developed people who have “their own personal needs and aspirations.”

I would add that the following leadership communication practices are highly effective tools for accomplishing Bersin’s recommended goals:

  1. Establishing personal connections with employees through regular direct contact
  2. Communicating clearly and consistently about mission, values and goals, and
  3. Demonstrating vulnerability by sharing stories from the leader’s own experiences to impart important lessons learned

A writer on the ever-changing landscape of business-driven learning, HR and talent management, he bases these views on a survey by Glassdoor.com. It reveals clear differences between companies where employees are highly engaged and those where employees are actively disengaged.

Bersin says that the transformation he sees in today’s workforce is the most dramatic he’s seen in years. He says the main drivers for business success are “Engagement, Experience, and Environment… because ultimately employee engagement is all a business has.” He calls on leaders to direct their energies to building “highly engaged teams” along with achieving the desired business results, and his report includes guidelines on how to make this critical shift.