Sometimes participants in my leadership workshops want to talk about disruption. And sometimes during the ensuing discussion I will jump in and say, “No, that’s not disruption. That’s just a big change.”
As the Executive in Residence for Belmont University’s Center For Entrepreneurship, I often thought of this amazing little poem when working with the students. These young entrepreneurs were often doing what some considered to be a “crazy thing.”
Early in my career I worked in the real estate business. We were busy, which was good. But busy meant a lot of contracts, documents, and agreements, and with a high level of activity there was more chance that something could occasionally go wrong.
There’s an old business saying that “all planning is good.” Let’s rethink that, because there’s a new business reality that “slow is the new broken.” If too much planning makes you slow, you’re broken.
I know speakers who are wizards with Powerpoint and it adds great value to their presentations. But in the typical company meeting, PowerPoint presentations are usually a collection of mind-numbing bullet points. There’s a better way, if you have the creativity, intelligence, and guts to try it.
Imagine a baseball player asking, “How can I swing the bat in a way that’s different from any other baseball player?” Really? Who cares? What’s the point? For the baseball player, the right question is, “How can I get more hits?” Many businesses ask “How can we be different?” Or, “How can we innovate?” Or, “How can we disrupt?”
There are common threads that are woven through winning companies and top individual performers. There are also common threads woven through the mediocre and the struggling. When I talk with people in companies that are not doing well, they will invariably tell me how complicated their business is, how different it is from other businesses, and that they “have a thousand things to do” each and every day.
A group of friends and I recently met for a weekend of catching up, great restaurants, and maybe a little bourbon. We stayed at a hotel that’s part of a small group with locations in eight cities. I’ve stayed at three of their hotels – one of them multiple times – and they have always done a great job. Their customer experience has built a strong brand for them.
A quote that I often reference is from Albert Szent-Györgyi who said, “Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.” In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Tim Evans cited Southwest Airlines as having been a disruptive force in the airline industry because of co-founder Herb Kelleher’s ability to “think something different.”
Here are some ideas on how you can simplify: People sometimes ask me how they can improve their presentations. One of my suggestions is to cut their presentation by 1/3. Editing down almost always improves the quality of your message. Caryn Marooney, Head of Technology Communications at Facebook, says, “If your message isn’t unbelievably simple, you’re missing the point,” she says.