June, 2015 | Published by Anecdote - Putting Stories to Work.
Greetings from the team at Anecdote. We hope that you’ll forgive us for being a little tardy with this issue of Anecdotally. We delayed its publication so that it would coincide with the launch of our thoroughly revamped website – take a look at it here . Many hours of work have gone into refashioning our site to make it even more user-friendly and informative, and we’re very proud of the end result. To learn why we did it and what you can expect when you next pay our site a visit, check out the piece below in Breaking News. Needless to say, we’d love to know your opinion of our new-look online presence, so please drop us a line when you get the chance.
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The games decision-makers play
Organisations often struggle in helping their employees to make the transition from inexperienced newcomer to effective decision-maker. This is understandable. It’s very difficult to guide someone in how to make a competent judgement call in difficult circumstances when those circumstances are entirely theoretical. As we all know, there’s simply no substitute for experience. Well, the good news is that story work can help here. As Gary Klein explains in his book Intuition at Work, you can use decision games to provide meaningful experiences that develop gut instinct and the capacity to deal with complex scenarios that are specific to a particular job. If your curiosity is piqued, read more here.
An exciting piece of news is that Anecdote’s partner network, which currently involves 29 partners in 17 countries, continues to grow. We’ve been talking to a prospective partner in Hong Kong and are looking forward to working with more organisations in that region. Now read on to find out about our new projects and the events that are coming up.
Last month, we ran our first SFL program in China, in the southern city of Guangzhou. Hopefully, it will prove to be the first of many such events in that country.
We are continuing our work with an international hotel chain based in Singapore to build their business storytelling skills.
We are finalising several Making Strategy Stick projects, one in Melbourne and one in Brisbane.
We are delivering our SFL program to a bunch of cool organisations including a leading bank, an executive team of an Australian University and a global manufacturing company. No really, they are cool!
Upcoming Events that we're running or attending:
Mark attended the 2015 Association for Talent Development (ATD) Conference in Orlando, Florida from 17th–20th May. It’s the world’s biggest conference focused on training and development, and I'm sure some of our newsletter readers attended alongside Mark. It was great to meet so many people from around the world, and some potential new SFL Partners.
Preparations are well underway for our very first Storytelling for Leaders (SFL) Partner conference at beautiful Palm Cove in Queensland in late July. We are very much looking forward to this get-together.
Our partners around the globe will be running various public SFL programs in the coming months. You can find a list of these programs here.
Mark is running a public SFL workshop in Vienna on August 28th. For more information, and to purchase tickets, please click here.
Shawn took some long service leave this year and walked the Camino in Spain with his wife Sheenagh. They also spent time in France, Italy and the UK.
Shawn will be speaking at the Victorian Tourism Conference on the 20th – 21st July. His talk is called ‘From Experience Seekers to Story Seekers’. You can buy tickets here.
Shawn is a keynote speaker at the National Association of Community Legal Centres on the 25th – 27th August. Tickets are available here.
While conducting a workshop in the Philippines recently, I received a humbling but timely reminder that little things really can make a big difference.
The slides I used at the start of the session contained a misspelling of the client company’s name, an acronym. True, it was a rather complicated acronym, but still, it was a basic error. To make matters worse, I repeated the error twice in my introductory remarks. I guess I should have twigged to the fact that the mood of my audience had changed when muttering flooded the room as the attendees broke into groups for an activity. But I honestly didn’t realise what had happened until someone came up to me during that activity and gently informed me of the mistake.
Now some people would say that you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff (like, as a random example, the spelling of an acronym), and in many cases that’s good advice. But not always. When you’re communicating important ideas and demonstrating your expertise, you need to get the detail right, otherwise you can end up blurring the big picture. In the case of the Filipino company, when the employer’s name was incorrectly presented, it likely prompted my audience to engage in what Daniel Kahneman, in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, coined fast (or automatic) thinking. I can imagine them thinking, ‘He doesn’t even know who we are’, closely followed by something along the lines of, ‘He didn’t bother preparing for this’ or ‘He doesn’t care enough to know our name’.
Of course, such conclusions would have been wrong. I did fully prepare for that workshop, and I did care very much about how the session went. The mistake on the slide wasn’t mine. I simply perpetuated someone else’s oversight. But quick fire assumptions do not allow room for alternative explanations to be considered, no matter how grounded in reality they might be.
Of course, noone is perfect and mistakes will be made. When they do, it’s how you recover that counts. In this case, I could only apologise. I have resolved to make more of an effort in future, when big things are at stake, to sweat the small stuff.
In 2004 Drew Westen and his colleagues put together an experiment to see how people of a particular political persuasion (Democrat or Republican) make sense of new information. Drew is a neuroscientist and advises political candidates on how to garner voter support. In this experiment he scanned the brains of 15 committed Democrats and 15 committed Republicans while showing them slides of conflicting information. Here are two examples:
Initial statement (Slide 1): During the first Gulf War, John Kerry wrote to a constituent: "Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition ... I share your concerns. I voted in favor of a resolution that would have insisted that economic sanctions be given more time to work." Contradiction (Slide 2): Seven days later, Kerry wrote to a different constituent, "Thank you for expressing your support for the Iraqi invasion of Kuawait. From the outset of the invasion, I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis."
Initial statement (Slide 1): "Having been here and seeing the care that these troops get is comforting for me and Laura. We are, should, and must provide the best care for anybody who is willing to put their life in harm's way for our country."—President Bush, 2003, visiting a Veterans Administration Hospital. Contradiction (Slide 2): Mr Bush's visit came on the same day that the Administration announced its immediate cutoff of VA hospital access to approximately 164,000 veterans.
If you subscribe to the philosophy ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, you might be wondering why we’ve gone to the trouble of refreshing the look and content of our popular website. Well, we certainly didn’t do it because anything was ‘broke’. We did it because we like the equally basic philosophy, ‘If you can make it better, then do it’. Going by the comments we’ve received on the topic, our website has served its visitors well for over ten years now, but we always knew there was room for improvement and we’re thrilled to have met this challenge.
We launched our first website in 2004 at anecdote.com.au. It was essentially a blog with a few other features. In 2010 we acquired the domain anecdote.com and launched a full-blown web presence on 12th July that year. Here is the blog post announcing that launch.
And then we took it one step even further at the start of 2014 ,when we embarked on a major domain migration project to shift all our blog posts across to the new global domain.
What you’ll find when you revisit the Anecdote site is a cleaner look and feel, including smoother navigation. We could throw around words like ‘interface’ and ‘functionality’, but really, we’re just saying that the site looks great and it’s easier to find what you’re looking for. All of this adds up, in our opinion, to a first-class experience. This is especially true for mobile devices, which is an enhancement we were particularly keen on. And, of course, you’ll continue to access the great content that we like to think is a hallmark of our work. If anything, you’ll find an even clearer explanation of what Anecdote has done for organisations and their people in the past, and what we can do for you in the future.
Once you’ve had a look at the new website www.anecdote.com, please do send us your feedback. We’d love to hear what you think.