Posts Tagged 'Business'

Part Two: Bandrowski Global Communication Clarity (BGCC) Exercise

2838873571_8ce78456bd_mAs I described in my Global Communication Clarity: Part One post, it isn’t easy to lead effectively in multicultural environments—particularly when you are an energetic speaker, and your audience (your global team, business partner, customer, etc.) is listening to you in their second or third language.

I developed an exercise when delivering keynote speeches, training, and consulting around the world. It has worked well for me, and solves the problem of the audience being too respectful to interrupt and ask you to slow down, or be clearer. Perhaps the exercise can work for you as well. (Remember where you heard it first.)

Step One: Discuss Global Communication Challenges

As a quick icebreaker at the beginning of an important business meeting or training session in another country, ask the participants two questions:

  • Question A: What are your biggest global communication challenges when using the language of the other person, and rank them by the level of challenge they pose? (Invariably, the answer is “they speak too fast,” followed by “they use words I don’t understand.”)
  • Question B: Can you think of when these challenges caused a significant business error? (Let them feel the pain, or they won’t change; one of my change leadership expressions is “no pain, no change.”)

Step Two: Invent Silent Feedback Mechanisms

Ask your audience for suggestions of acceptable ways by which they could signal to you to slow down, ask you to go back and explain, or to speed up.

Care is needed to do this in each country in which you work; in international business, the importance of non-verbal communication can easily be underestimated. What may seem to be a conventional gesture or greeting in American culture can in fact undermine a business deal in Asia, Europe, and The Middle East. Some hand gestures in various countries are considered extremely rude, such as thrusting four fingers at someone in Japan, the peace sign reversed so the palm faces the recipient in Jolly ‘Ole England, and the up-thrusted thumb in Iran, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and parts of Italy and Greece. They all mean something similar to someone using the middle finger in American culture. These crude examples are offered to prevent you from being rude.

In Japan, senior managers attending one of my two-day Global Innovative Marketing workshops came up with these three signals for me, and they worked very well:

  • Slow Down: Hold hand horizontally, palm down, and lower it slowly.
  • Speed Up: Rotate the hand in a forward, spiral motion. (Not one I get a lot from audiences.)
  • Clarify a Point: Hold palm up vertically.

Step Three: Practice Challenges with Amplitude

I believe the single thing that distinguishes great leaders, innovators, athletes, artists, and anyone for that matter, is they have huge Amplitude. Amplitude is the measure of the height and depth of a wave—and determines its intensity—as in the power of electricity, the brightness of light, the loudness of sound, and just about every other phenomenon in the universe on a grand scale to the sub-atomic level. To change a habit, or learn something new, doing it with Amplitude—at the extreme level—is the fastest way to make progress.

In this exercise, practice with your audience in an Amp Upped manner, periodically and purposely doing one of the following, then wait for their signal. Speak:

  • Really fast!!!
  • Toooooooo ssslllooooooowwlllly
  • Too erudite—as in “who knows?”

Exaggerating each time is also good for a few laughs; humor is a key tool in facilitating learning.

Step Four: Simulate Challenges with Less Amplitude

As with any change leadership initiative, by now you may think you and they have both adopted “the new way.” But change masters know this to be a false assumption. Behavioral change (for both parties) takes many repetitions, each followed by positive reinforcement (“at-a boys” and “at-a girls”) delivered in a manner I call small SIPs (Specific, Immediate, and Personal). Otherwise you and they will quickly regress back to your old ways.

In Japan, this is where the subtle samurai image may still be lurking in their subconscious; their DNA kicks in and they just can’t do it automatically. So, you have to:

  • Amp Up your speaking intermittently to an extreme version of what is WRONG, to force them to signal you to do it RIGHT. It continues to get the point across, and invariably gets more laughs.
  • Amp-Down your exaggerations progressively to slowly wean them off of them, but still periodically testing them with a fake fast, slow, or “who-knows?”

Step Five: Use Bandrowski Global Communication Clarity (BGCC) Real Time

Now that they have practiced in an Amped-Down version, it’s time to go real time. Remind them that you need their Brutal Instant Feedback (BIF), as I call it. You want it, and it’s a gift to you (to accept, discard, or re-gift—as I’m doing for you.) And, they also need the same if they are not signaling you when they should be.

Americans are not the only ones who speak too fast. It can be a problem with any nationality. So when the opportunity arises, facilitate the use of the BGCC in the reverse direction. For example, have the Japanese team members use it when they are speaking Japanese, and someone from another country that speaks Japanese as their second or third language is trying to comprehend what is being said.

Given my enthusiasm and energy when I deliver keynote speeches and training, I once in a while still need a BIF. When I need it and instantly get it, it is Bandrowski Global Communication Clarity at its finest. It makes navigating successfully across multicultural and geographical space a whole lot easier and effective.

I hope you find this exercise to be practical and profitable. It could save you millions.

May breakthrough be with you,

Jim Bandrowski

Photo Credit: jungledrumsonline

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Innovation through Fusionomics

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One avenue to strategic innovation is to slam together separate technologies or methodologies and see what you get. I call this “Fusionomics.” Think about Tex-Mex food and the mobile phone. Fusionomics is about to happen again. Get ready to have your iPod or iPhone be your game controller. One will be able to wave their iPod or iPhone like a motion controller for game consoles, similar to the Nintendo Wii technology. Social Gaming Network (SGN) has risen in visibility as a result of its iPhone and Facebook games. Now they are fusing web gaming and the iPhone in the iFun technology, and releasing its first free cross-platform game, iGolf. SGN CEO Shervin Pishevar describes their innovation as “the first time the mobile world, the Web world and social gaming have united liked this. This is like having a Wii on the go or a Wii in your hand.”

In my book, Corporate Imagination—Plus, published by The Free Press imprint of Simon & Schuster, I explained several strategic innovation techniques. One method I detailed was “seeking combinations.” Fusion is a classic approach to creativity; things that already exist are linked together, in a marriage of thoughts.

In the food industry, in which I do extensive work, consider the examples of wine coolers, toaster waffles, milkshake breakfasts, chunky soups, and all of the “lite” foods. Additionally, years ago Procter & Gamble created an innovative new laundry product from two existing but separate products, a combination of detergent and fabric softener, named Bold 3. The products were commonly used together when washing clothes already, but required the purchase of two separate products; they just combined them in one product for a compelling marketing hook. How did the rest of their competitors miss this obvious combination?

Seeking effective combinations of existing products, yields innovative concepts and  powerful marketing niches; think cross-promotion sales and merchandising, retailer branded credit cards, and cross-over vehicles.

Examples abound. From a technological perspective, the key to relational databases, the fastest growing segment of the software industry, is the power of the programs to relate two different files of data, so long as they have some element in common.  Ever hear of a company that broke ground seeking combinations in this area named Oracle? Larry Ellison, the company’s driven CEO, is a remarkable breakthrough leader.

On a personal note, my thirteen year old twin boys, Eric and Ryan, and their two friends conceived the germ of the Wii concept six years ago in our family room when they were seven years old. I walked in one day and found them lined up watching Star Wars and in unison replicating the laser sword battle scenes with their toy light sabers. I asked them if they’d like to do this with their Sony Playstation, and they asked how. I said it would take a few years. In my next leadership development training session at the largest computer game publisher in the world, I offered the idea for free, and I recommended they partner with Sony and develop it. I repeatedly voiced the idea in each annual session with this company. For whatever reason, no action was taken on the idea and three years later, near-dead Nintendo launched the Wii, and subsequently screamed to the top of the computer game console industry, right past Sony. It broke my strategic heart.


Outliers and the Story of Success

 

Writer and journalist, Malcolm Gladwell familiarized the public with the terms “the tipping point,” and “blink.” With the release of his newest book this week he is about to popularize a less-than-common word: “outlier.”

In Outlier: The Story of Success, Gladwell describes an outlier as “the person who doesn’t fit into our normal understanding of achievement.” In essence, he says that outliers out-work the rest of us, and spend 10,000 hours doing it—what he calls the 10,000-hour rule—because greatness requires enormous time. His examples include Bill Gates, the Beatles and many others who worked enormously hard and put in the time before making it to the big time.

In Lean Six Sigma, one of the approaches that I utilize as a consultant to help organizations around the world achieve breakthrough financial results, an “outlier” is a data point that is beyond the three-sigma lines on a statistical process control (SPC) graph. W. Edwards Deming, Walter Shewhart, and their colleagues brought SPC graphs and outliers to the world in the 1940s. And, In the 1950s they brought them to the Japanese, who in turn used Deming’s philosophy, methods, and SPC graphs to kick our industrial butts in the 1960s. And they still do today.

Technically, an outlier is data point with a 99.7% chance of not happening. So if one happens, you can say with huge confidence, “something has changed.” You should do a root cause analysis on all outliers, good and bad. For example, if you rack up a horrendous golf score compared to your handicap, or previous average and range, ask yourself what the root cause is so you can correct it. Do the same for an amazing score. Rather than just buying everyone in your foursome a drink when you have an “exceptional” day, make the exception the rule by analyzing what worked. This is called a best practice.

I completely agree with Malcolm Gladwell’s assessment of the distinguishing characteristic of greatness. But if I may be so bold, I’d like to add an underlying characteristic. AMPLITUDE. On one extreme, great performers go to the positive extreme, where they think big and idealistically, and push themselves and their organizations to achieve uncompromising quality. Additionally, winners in all walks of life employ huge, constructively negative amplitude in order to spot unmet market needs, as well as brutally evaluate themselves. This enables them to be overachievers in practicing their art, science or sport, and fuels them. Wayne Gretzky, Jerry Rice, Dianna Ross, Madonna, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jack Welch, and every other winner does this. They are often accused of being perfectionists, and for good reason. They are.

Coincidentally, I believe I fit Malcolm’s 10,000-hour rule in that I have presented what I have discovered to be the ONE THING that distinguishes great leaders (and all other winners) from just the good ones. It’s “Amplitude,” and I intend to make the word famous. (Remember where you heard it first!) I have shared it in keynote speeches and workshops around the world with 10,000 people over the last 15 years, receiving 99.9% confirmation it’s the real deal.

Or, if you would like to see how to apply amplitude to your business strategy, innovation, marketing, finance, operations, organization, acquisitions, and other areas, read my first book, Corporate Imagination—Plus. It was the first book to detail how to put innovation into strategy.