7602 Chapters
Medium 9781609940119

12: Cut Through the Clutter

Booher, Dianna Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind,
give it more thought.


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That famous opening from Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities illustrates three key principles for how people with presence think and plan their communication:

• Grab attention to be heard.

• Summarize succinctly to be clear.

• Be brief to be appreciated.

Beginnings should grab people’s attention whether you’re writing an epic novel, telling an anecdote, or presenting your budget for the year. But beginnings can’t go on too long, or they become the muddled middle. That’s why the conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that you’ll never sell your movie if you can’t summarize the plot in a sentence.

My twist on that in the marketplace: You’ll never sell your idea in the boardroom if you can’t summarize it in a paragraph. How best to get started on that goal?

“If you can’t write your message in a sentence, you can’t say it in an hour.” That line came from my earlier book Speak with Confidence: Powerful Presentations That Inform, Inspire, and Persuade, and I first tweeted it in early 2009 as one of my daily tips for presenters. As I write almost two years later, that comment is still being re-tweeted. Its long life in cyberspace, I think, can be attributed to the frustration people feel in being trapped in a conversation or meeting by colleagues who ramble on and on without making a clear point.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781605092683

Appendix: Debbie’s Secret Notes

Blanchard, Ken Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

To envision and communicate a
compelling picture of a preferred future.

The principle behind the practice: Leadership always begins with a picture of a preferred future.

Single-word focus: Vision

• What do I want our organization (team, group) to accomplish? What would that look like? How would we measure our success?

• What do I want to be true in the future that is not true today?

• Why should others care about this preferred future?

• How will we measure our progress?

Caution: Like water in a bucket, vision evaporates and must be constantly replenished—that is, communicated.

To recruit and select the right people
for the right job while creating an
environment where people wholeheartedly
invest themselves in achieving the vision.

• As people’s engagement level rises, so does the probability of success.

• Helping people grow pays huge dividends.

• What do engaged people look like in my context?

• In the past, what factors have led me to be fully engaged?

• Which of these factors are missing in my followers?

See All Chapters
Medium 9781567263275

Chapter 5: Change

Gordon, Robert L. Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Change is the great equalizer in society, for it creates a new set of rules in life and in organizations. Organizational change can make an experienced person who is valued by an organization into a novice. This can be difficult to accept and is often resisted fiercely by those who are most adversely affected by the change. In the past, workers, soldiers, and seamen were promoted for following orders and moving forward toward their assigned goal. Now, change happens so quickly that rarely will a person be able to follow a straight path towards a goal. Today, it is important to move with change, rather than try to resist it in an attempt to stay on a set path.

A metaphor can help explain the elements of organizational change. Change can be described as a lumberjack with an axe. The lumberjack represents the change agent. The axe represents the stakeholders affected by the change, while the tree represents the old process that will be changed.

Lumberjack. The lumberjack is the agent of change. This agent can be a new person, a new process, or new technology; regardless, the agent of change will cause organizational ripples that will create a new reality. In terms of this metaphor, the change agent—the lumberjack—alters the landscape of the forest. This can be scary to people, as they must watch their old resources be “cut away” in the name of progress.

See All Chapters
Medium 9781605092560

Chapter 11 Organizational Experiments in Circle Governance

Baldwin, Christina Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Organizations with a commitment to systemic change and alternative structure may use circle as their self-governance.

Circle’s use as a dynamic, positive force for changing the world is rapidly evolving. In May 2009, Christina attended a two-day conference on Peace and Social Justice Issues sponsored by Catholic Women Religious. In a workshop on emergent social issues offered by Fran Korten, editor of Yes! magazine, she asked those of us in the audience to reflect on three questions:

What did you notice on the fringe of society fifteen years ago that is now in the center?

What do you notice on the fringe now that you hope will move to the center in the next fifteen years?

What are you willing to do to contribute to that happening?

Christina walked to the microphone and began talking about the shift in circle work in the fifteen years between founding PeerSpirit, Inc., in 1994, and the conference of eighteen hundred women and men in May 2009. She spoke about circle being a fringe movement reentering society through consciousness-raising groups, through experiences like the California-based Women’s Summer Solstice Camps (1985–1996), through organizations like Women Within International and the Mankind Project, through the Council of Wilderness Guides and the School of Lost Borders, through Ojai Foundation and its teachings in The Way of Council, through John Seed, Joanna Macy, and Pat Fleming’s work with The Council of All Beings. She then spoke about how circle has now taken hold in indicator professions such as education, religion, health care, and the nonprofit sector. “That was our goal,” she said excitedly. “We knew circle would work at the edge—and we believed it was equally needed in the middle.” At the end of the session, people clustered around and talked excitedly of their own experiences with circle, moving from the edge of their lives toward a more central and accepted practice

See All Chapters
Medium 9781609944872

6 Constructive Depolarizing

Johansen, Robert Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Ability to calm tense situations where
differences dominate and communication has broken down—
and bring people from divergent cultures
toward positive engagement.

Very little good has ever been done by the absolute shall.


NEUROLOGIST ROBERT BURTON is studying the neuroscience of certainty. He writes: Despite how certainty feels, it is neither a conscious choice nor even a thought process. Certainty and similar states of knowing we know arise out of involuntary brain mechanisms that, like love and anger, function independently of reason.2

Burtons conclusions show how neuroscience will shake our understanding of leadership over the next decade. The title of his book on certainty is both revealing and provocative: On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When Youre Not. How many leaders have you seen who know they are right, even if they are wrong?

Clarity is critical for leaders, as I discussed in Chapter 2, but certainty is downright dangerous. In a VUCA World, many will be attracted to absolute shalls and leaders will have to engage with these polarized and polarizing advocates who drive wedges between others.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters