Monday, September 27, 2010

A Middle East question

Read on...

I have been asked at short notice to say a few words to our Middle East team about the system changes we have in store for them. Note to self:

When asked to address the front line, the corporate staffer should always remember the Two Great Lies:

  1. Hello, I'm from Head Office: I'm here to help. And
  2. Pleased to meet you.

However, we soldier on...

What do you want to achieve?
Your host wants his people to get:

  1. a morale building feeling that things really are getting better
  2. a lively and entertaining 30 minutes to keep up the energy and momentum of a day of training and updates

You want to:

  1. support your host
  2. raise your profile in this region
  3. get people interested in the social networking arena
  4. give people information they might actually find useful in their day to day work

What can you say?
You can think of the planned changes under three headings:

  1. Things we are doing to you
  2. Things we are doing for you and
  3. Things you can do for yourselves. 

Things we are doing to you
We inherited a mess and it needs to be cleaned up. Things will get worse before they get better. The systems you are comfortable with are not competitive. One day, you'll look back and thank us. But the next six months will be a nightmare.

All the honest staffer can do is give an honest appraisal of the need and a best estimate of the impact on the front line. And press gang the people he needs.

Get through this openly,honestly and quickly. They will remember you were straight with them.

Things we are doing for you
This is better. The pain you went through last year is paying off. The requests you have been putting in for three years are finally getting priority. The latest reorganisation gives you direct say on the Executive Committee.

Share the good news,but remember that the audience will be sceptical. Don't over sell. Remember what you have told them and check that it actually happens. If it doesn't, be the one to break the news.

Things you can do for yourselves
This is where you find the magic. Make sure you have time to show them the stuff they can do now to ...

In the good old days this meant:

  1. Use simple Access tables instead of Excel Frankensheets (which are impossible to document and ALWAYS contain errors).
  2. If you must use spreadsheets, don't use macros. With clear spreadsheets you will get reputation for clear thought.
  3. Share your key reports. Build a library with your peers around the world. Build a reputation.
  4. Use sharepoint for more than just file storage.
  5. Never mail a file: it wastes storage and people lose track of versions. Send a link to the version tracked master. 

Much of this still applies. But the new frontier is the social network. Be sure to share the sort of problems this can solve:

  1. Want tips and tricks to use our tools better? Go to Lori's blog.
  2. Want to share your own knowledge and insights? Write your own blog.
  3. Worried you might waste time on the Social Net? Track where you are spending your time with ManicTime.
  4. Do your virtual worldwide teams seem impersonal? Chat asynchronously with our microblogging tool.

Some thoughts on presentation
Also remember that
RT @edyong209 via @MuckRack Every time someone puts up a slide with bullet points and no visual info, a kitten jumps onto a spike.
Use big pictures and handouts.(where can I get a picture of a kitten falling on a spike? That would be a strong attention grabber: "let's begin with the wisdom of the social network...")

Use the virtual room tools for three of four surveys during the call to take the temperature of the audience? Take written questions. Check whether they are all sitting in one conference room or apart.

Have fun!