Marketing Cafes are a great way to liven up traditional conferences and seminars – bringing different questions to the table and encouraging new conversations ..
Albert Einstein once said ‘not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted – counts’. In other words, we are in danger of spending a lot of time measuring and analysing what is not important – whilst ignoring what truly is. The marketing, innovation and sales business is not immune. A great quantity of noise, reports, feeds, briefing, planning – and meetings. Lots of meetings. Yet whilst we have a surplus of texts, emails and data we often overlook what is in real short supply – purposeful, collaborative, open and focused – business conversation.
“You have to learn that you make better decisions through collaboration” – John Chambers, CEO and Chairman, CISCO
“You have to learn that you make better decisions through collaboration.”John Chambers, CEO and Chairman CISCO. He leads a global technology business with a $40 Billion turnover and his career spans Wang Laboratories and IBM too. But he is now focusing on building better business – through smarter collaboration
Cap Gemini recently reported that over 80% of CEO’s they surveyed identified idea sharing as the single most important element of innovation – and yet only 16% said they had the right culture to do it. And General Electric’s (GE) survey of top global marketers revealed that whilst 86% of them agreed that partnerships were the most important element of innovation – only 21% were able to build them. We call this ‘The Collaborative Paradox’: there is an increasing demand for innovation, which is driven by smarter relationships – but due to a lack of internal and external collaboration skills, there is often a failure to innovate.
Haidt recommends the kind of management tactics that can help build the kind of strong, collaborative, cohesive culture.
Jonathan Haidt’s latest work The Righteous Mind is a serious piece of heavy reading in every way. The hardback thumped into my briefcase at a sturdy 702 grams. And its 321 pages of erudite thinking is backed up by a further 51 pages of notes plus 17 pages of detailed index. Its sections and sub-headings are seriously crisp and the arguments are summarised and presented as ‘Exhibits’ – to give the book the kind of gravitas that would suit a judge’s chambers. And to be fair, the subject matter and the quality of the work suits it.
It’s a lack of empathy, a lack of trust, a lack of collaborative skills – and a lack of leadership and communication skills are, in my experience, far bigger issues – than a lack of introversion.
It is March 2012 and I am in London listening to Susan Cain, who is a phenomenon in the world of current ideas. How influential is she? Well, in the one second it has taken you to read that sentence approximately thirty-two people have viewed her standout talk at TED. And a further 451 have viewed it on YouTube – in the last hour. Her book ‘Quiet’ – ‘The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking’ – sits in the New York Times Top Five – and her piece in the New York Times attracted an astonishing 241 comments alone.
At its best – understanding the lessons from the edge of endeavour can help to sharpen our focus and our edge too
We’ve had a long love affair with seeing our problems mirrored in triumphs & lives of exceptional people and high achievers. We love their biographies and hearing the secrets of great sports and military leaders. If only we could be respected like Nelson. If ony we could be as challenging as Richard Branson or as driven as Steve Jobs. If only we could manage like Mourinho – or bend it like Beckham. And – this love affair with heroes and leaders has its dangers. There is a danger of cliché and homilies – of group think and the leadership cult. But…
We’re as strong as our network. And when small nimble players can appear and disrupt even the most powerful of industries – it is dangerous to be playing alone,
Cynthia McIntryre has just published a great piece in HBR explaining why and how SME’s & corporates need to collaborate. If they want to prosper – SME’s need to form smart relationships with powerful players – and get access to their resources and experience. And likewise, if corporates really want to innovate, its been proven that they need to add the energy, ideas and freshness of SME’s to their mix. Its partner – or perish. So, why do some people still – not get it?
High value, high risk relationships are not easy – and there is risk and conflict. A good business collaboration needs both commercial savvy and emotional intelligence.
When surveyed 80% of top executives agree their organisations need to innovate differently and 86% say that partnerships and collaboration is the key to innovation. Yet – only 21% say they are developing them. In their latest 2012 Innovation Monitor, General Electric call this – The Partnership Paradox. So why does it exist? And what can we do to change it?
I am not a fan of brainstorming. But I am a fan of purposeful collaboration. And to some this may appear a contradiction. In an excellent article in a recent New York Times, Susan Cain explores the dangers of groupthink and the horrors of noisy, distracted offices. She points out that true genius needs solitude and time to think. Perhaps academia and ideas do. But innovation does not. As Matt Ridley pointed out, ‘ideas have sex’ – and economic and business history is littered with examples of pioneering that was only achieved by the accidental mixing, the casual alliance or the perfect partnership – at just the right time.
We are biased towards a positive view of the future and predictions of outcomes need to be tested. But, interestingly, on the balance of things, the benefits of optimism bias out weigh the possible negative ones.
How do you balance an entrepreneurial optimism versus unrestrained recklessness? And how do you stop your innovation and marketing activities being more reliant on ‘ hope’ – than reality? An excellent recent lecture at The Royal Society of Arts and Commerce (The RSA) – by neuroscientist and author Tali Sharot – whose latest work is ‘The Optimism Bias – Why We Are Wired To Look On The Bright side‘ – highlighted the intriguing tendency for more than 80% of us to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.