Confronted by the silence of technology
I am running a two-day workshop. It’s day 1. 15 minutes to kick off. Half of the group have still not arrived. The other half are sitting at their tables in complete silence. Glued to their laptops or their smartphones. 5 minutes to go. A few people still to arrive. Still complete silence. Laptops and smartphones. 2-minute warning. Almost time for them to say goodbye to their ‘loved ones’, I say. I prepare myself for the struggle. 2 days of ‘please turn your devices off everyone’ begging pleas and ‘do you mind if I nip out to make an important call?’ requests………
Do I need to grasp the fact that we are living in the age of Uber’s Children, where everything is demanded at the same time? I want a taxi quickly, I want to know how far away it is, I want to pay a competitive rate, I don’t want to handle any cash. No more ‘either…or’ but only ‘and…and’. Yes, I will listen to you Mr. Facilitator, but I would also like to keep connected to the workplace (and my social life) at the same time. I can do both. Let me.
Less is more
My good friend and colleague, Tony Franco, is a foodie and is very social media literate. Recently, he introduced me to Joe Wicks, The Body Coach. Joe is prolific on YouTube where he has dozens of videos that demonstrate how you can get fit quickly. He also has a series of 15 second videos which demonstrate how you can prepare a healthy meal.
Let’s dissect the effectiveness of this approach by using a bit of theory. The Propelling Question that Joe is setting himself is ‘How can I help my customers make simple and healthy meals when they only have 15 seconds to learn how?’ A powerful ambition coupled with a ridiculous constraint. In order to successfully address this Propelling Question, Joe has used the Can-If thinking approach in ten different ways.
He CAN do this if:
1. His audience are all at the same level of culinary expertise
2. The objective of the 15 second video is single-minded
3. Any food preparation not essential for the video is done in advance
4. The process steps are easy and intuitive to follow
5. The 15 seconds is a non-negotiable time limit
6. Every word counts. Straight to the point.
7. There is strong visual impact that helps rather than hinders
8. Joe’s verbal style is personal, quirky and entertaining
9. The video is there for continual reference.
10. At the end, you get a clear picture of what ‘good’ looks like
Let’s be brave
Back to the two-day workshop. I am faced by the constraint of participant attention time. If I was being brave and alternative, I would say: “OK, Ubers Children, please keep your laptops open and your smartphones at hand and feel free to use both during the session. I believe that you can multi-task. Let’s go”.
Unfortunately, I am not quite that brave. Not yet.
I just want to get the attention of the group in the time that we have made available. Talking, listening, sharing, agreeing. No devices in sight.
In the fast and furious style of Joe Wicks, this could be a slightly ‘less brave’ response when asked to run a two-day workshop:
1 day not 2. Single-minded objective. Focused prep work in advance. Clarity around outcome. Action oriented follow-up. PowerPoint light or non-existent. Highly visual and experiential. Intuitive, fit for the workplace theory. Example driven. No bla! bla! YouTube video clips as leave behinds. Fun.
Three key take outs:
1. If the customer wants ‘and…and’, then find a way of doing this, before somebody else beats you to it
2. Make the constraint both challenging and non-negotiable. Set it in stone.
3. Creatively look for ways of giving the customer an even better experience by embracing the constraint.