Storytelling is a fundamental part of every great brand, business or institution. Every great brand or business has a story and that story connects to the emotions, the characters, the values of the people that live that product or business every day. Storytelling is always been a part of leadership. It is just now we’re overtly talking about it as a tool that leaders can use as opposed to just an aid in our brand’s and the products that we give to people. Storytelling says it’s not about the list of things we have to do, it’s about the connection that we give to people about a piece of information that we’re trying to share. A good story at its essence is simply conveying a message that has logic.
Here are the top 5 reasons storytelling is important for modern leaders:
#1. Storytelling can inspire people to act in unfamiliar, ambiguous and often unwelcome, ways. Tedious cascades of numbers or daze-inducing PowerPoint slides won’t achieve this goal. Even logical arguments for making the needed changes usually won’t do the trick. It is effective story telling that works, if done effectively.
#2. Good storytelling can act silently on our conscious mind. When we hear a story that touches us deeply, our lives are immersed with meaning. As listeners, we have transmitted to us that which matters. Once we make this connection, once a sense of wonder has come upon us, it does not last long, and we inevitably fall back into our everyday living, but with the difference that a radical shift in understanding may have taken place.
#3. Most business leaders are honestly bored with 90% of the conversations they have in a day. They sit at meetings and have power point after power point, and they have meeting after meeting, and they have to do list after to do list. And they’re looking to be inspired. If you have a compelling story, something that is of interest, something that has a connection then people are going to listen no matter what the medium is.
#4. Storytelling is by far the best way for leaders to communicate with people they are leading. It is inherently well adapted to handling the most obstinate leadership challenges of today – igniting change, communicating who you are, enhancing the brand, transmitting values, creating high-performance teams, sharing knowledge, taming the grapevine, leading people in to the future.
#5. Last but not the least; storytelling translates dry and abstract numbers into compelling visuals of a leader’s goals. Although good business cases are developed through the use of numbers, they are typically approved on the basis of a story—that is, a narrative that links a set of events in some kind of causal sequence, something that connects with the listeners and has depth.
At the end of the day, everyone tells stories. The stories that get repeated over and over—and become a part of an organization’s or business culture and/or heritage, and these can come from the CEO, a manager, a new hire, or anyone in between. All you need is to have context, logic and connection.
Whenever we think of Dandelions, we think of weeds, an obnoxious interloper in an otherwise green and perfect lawn. Though many people consider dandelions as weeds that spoil a green lawn, the plant has many beneficial characteristics: The roots can make a coffee substitute; the leaves are edible; and dandelions are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals. So, it is only considered a weed in the framework of a carefully maintained and well-kept lawn.
In a business environment, the word “Dandelion” is generally used as a powerful metaphor and more popularly known as the “The Dandelion Principle”. Once a company has a “dandelion” as an employee, it is key that the employee is supported by an appropriate management style, which apparently acts as a big benefit in the long run. It can be highly beneficial to managers to seek out and hire people to do specific tasks who might have otherwise been overlooked for those jobs.
The SAP AG case study
During its annual user conference in May 2013, the German multinational software giant SAP AG announced plans to hire hundreds of people diagnosed with autism (the Dandelions), with a target of having people with autism represent 1% of the company’s work force by 2020. Autism is a developmental disorder associated with impairment of the ability to communicate with others and “preoccupation with repetitive activities of restricted focus.’
Well, according to SAP AG, there is a strong business rational behind hiring people with Autism: the company had discovered that people with autism have abilities that are extremely well-suited to performing some vital information technology tasks, such as software testing. Their motivation was to hire people who are among the best in the world at jobs other people are not able to perform as well.
The flip side to hiring dandelions is that the collaborative, team environment of most companies is a particular challenge. There can be frictions and tensions. Where this has been successful, there are mechanisms or processes in place to notice signs of friction or difficulty and address these promptly. The teams and people around a dandelion need to understand what’s going on, need briefing, even training, and there might need to be someone ready to jump in if a serious problem arises.
Dandelions for smaller companies
It is no coincidence that great achievers, rarely fit into conventional or cliche categories, ex from the tech industry are Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Nerds, outcasts and college drop outs who somehow make good resources have made phenomenal contribution to the tech sector in the recent years. Some have also deduced that many code champs and hardware heroes who worked out tech innovations, might source higher than average in the Autism spectrum. Therefore, the Dandelion principle might be even more important for smaller companies. As small companies often have to evolve to find the approaches that bring them fast and sustainable success, hiring people with remarkable abilities that you didn’t foresee value in when you had your previous mindset on, might just turn out to be your most important assets.
An enterprise video solution (or Enterprise YouTube) is a cloud based service and/or platform that manages all video content produced by an organization (enterprise) and makes them available to employees, customers, and partners, both within a custom portal or via plug-ins that fit into existing portals, such as SharePoint, Yammer, Workday and/or the company internet or intranet website.
Some products are available for purchase and installation within the enterprise firewall, while some are available only as SaaS (SOFTWARE-AS-A-SERVICE). There are also hybrid products that incorporate purchased software and a service aspect. All in all, a good enterprise video solution offers various advantages to an organization such as video hosting, video management, video publishing and live streaming.
Here are the five most popular enterprise video solutions:
Brightcove: One of the top ranked enterprise video platforms. Brightcove was founded in 2004 by Jeremy Allaire in Bonston, Massachusetts; the company went global in July 2007, when it opened up office in London. Brightcove has been named as one of the top two U.S. video platform vendors. The company has been popularly known for its Brightcove Studios that was geared toward professional video publishers, the studio was used to create, customize, distribute, and monetize video player widgets. In August 2010, Brightcove announced a content delivery partnership with Akamai Technologies.
Kaltura: Founded in the fall of 2006 and was launched at the TechCrunch40 industry event in San Francisco on September 18, 2007. One of the top ranked video solutions providers that operate in four major markets for video based solutions: Cloud TV (AKA OTT TV), OVP (Online Video Platform), EdVP (Education Video Platform), and EVP (Enterprise Video Platform). Its original concept was built on the collaborative Wiki model that uses media rather than text. With time, the company changed its focus to providing a broad video platform as a service, as well as many SaaS products.
Ooyala: The word ooyala means ‘cradle’ or ‘swing’ in Kannada or Telugu. It is a venture-backed, privately held company that provides online video technology products and services. As of 2009, Ooyala was providing video technology and services for over 500 companies. Ooyala’s main offering is a platform that enables companies and web sites to publish, manage, monetize, and analyze online video content. The service is used by the Times of India, Disney, News Corp, Bloomberg Television, and the Telegraph Media Group.
Mediaplatform: Founded in the year 2005 and with their head office based out of Beverly Hills, California, MediaPlatform is the leading enterprise video and webcasting platform for internal and external communications, training and collaboration. The company offers PrimeTime, an enterprise video platform that facilitates employees and partners to search, view, manage, rate, and share streaming video through an intuitive, channel-based portal. Notable customers include Abbott Laboratories, Ericsson, EY and General Motors.
Vidizmo: The company provides Video Portal & Streaming Media Products and Solutions to businesses of all sizes for the purposes of Corporate Communication, Sales & Marketing, Entertainment, Training, Learning, Compliance and Education. They are well known in the market for their following products: VIDIZMO MediaTube, VIDIZMO MediaLMS and VIDIZMO EnterpriseTube.
Other names in the business:
Haivision – End-to-end video streaming solutions for encoding, recording, managing, publishing and distributing secure video content.
Qumu – Enterprise video content management platform for webcasting and online video streaming.
Wowza – Offers a customizable live streaming platform to build, deploy and manage high-quality video, live and on-demand.
Ravnur – Enables companies to effectively and securely deploy the power of video and other multi-media content to employees, partners and customers across the globe without building additional infrastructure.
Kontiki – Provides a platform that delivers high-quality video for employees and partners in the enterprise through the ultimate Enterprise Video Platform.
In the last ten years, social media platforms have seen an exponential growth. This is partly due to the increase in popularity of smart devices. People carry their smartphones and tablets everywhere, and can easily access their social media accounts on the go and from anywhere. In other words, more and more people are logging into social media sites constantly. There are now more than 2 billion active social media users worldwide, and we see a sharp growth of 25% to 30% each year.
Businesses haven’t failed to notice the roaring expansion of social media. 9 out of 10 U.S. companies are now active on social networks. Business that are on social media are also reporting increased exposure and better engagement, and more than half say their social media efforts are boosting sales and increasing revenue.
So as a business owner or marketer, what are the top social media sites that you need to get on and start using. Here is a list of the top five social media sites of the future according to the world economic forum:
The largest social media site, with well over a billion users, it is still the top runner when it comes to social media. While it remains a popular application to update friends on your activities, the network has also become a significant news source. No doubt that business can benefit from having a strong presence, the true value comes in understanding what people are talking about and sharing with their networks.
A big name in photo edits and sharing, Instagram allows users to take photos and alter them using numerous pre-installed filters before sharing them online. A rapidly-growing platform with an estimated 500 million active users. As the focus is on images, it’s especially useful if you are reaching a younger audience who responds to photos, graphics, memes, and short videos. If you want to succeed with Instagram, it’s important that you have a good eye for detail and have at least basic photography skills.
Pinterest has over 60 million active users and is a very powerful image-based social media website. The main competitor is Instagram, Pinterest is a photo collection and sharing network which allows users to upload their own photos or “pin” others into various collections or “boards’ on the network. The majority of Pinterest users are female, which is important to keep in mind for marketing purposes.
Founded in 2002, LinkedIn is THE premier B2B social networking site. LinkedIn is a social network aimed at professionals and businesses, and in addition to updates allows users to create content such as articles. In addition to being able to reach out to others in your industry, you can purchase paid posts and participate in groups.
Twitter has some unique advantages, such as the ability to connect with influencers and to build a following fairly quickly. With Twitter, you can share short (140 or fewer characters) text updates, along with videos, images, links, polls and more. Unlike Facebook, which uses a complex algorithm to show users content, Twitter updates chronologically. This is another site that everyone in digital media should be using.
KPI or more popularly known as Key performance indicator is a business metric used to evaluate factors that are vital to the success of an organization and/or a team. It is a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company or a team is achieving key business objectives and goals. KPIs differ per organization and/or teams; business KPIs may be net revenue or a customer loyalty metric, while government might consider unemployment rates or socio-economic progress. Similarly, team KPIs could be Quality, operational excellence and people development.
A good KPI:
A good KPI should act as a scope or an opportunity, helping you and your team understands whether you’re taking the right path and steps toward your strategic and business goals. To be effective, a KPI must:
1. Be applicable to your business or team objective.
2. Be well-defined and quantifiable.
3. Be crucial to achieving your goal. (Therefore, key performance indicators.)
Types of KPI: There are two broad categories of KPIs:
• Internal KPIs – These KPIs are internally used by team members to measure and optimize their performance. Internal KPIs don’t need to be business bottom-line impacting.
• External KPIs – These are the KPIs we report to clients/senior management and use them to create strategic and tactical businesses changes.
The”big picture” view: Leaders and managers understand that they need information on the key dimensions of performance and that this can be achieved by distilling them into the vital KPIs. With the right KPIs managers can have a more focal and objective view of the key aspects of their business or teams and can measure effectiveness and performance accordingly. At a “bigger picture” level, organizations are applying KPIs at Business intelligence (BI) level to gauge business trends and advise tactical and strategic course of action. Before an organization defines top level KPIs, the following should be clearly defined:
• A clear business objective for the process.
• Quantitative and qualitative measurements.
• An active approach to finding and remedying organizational variances.
As a business owner, developing key performance indicators (KPIs) needs to be a priority. If you want good results, you have to focus on understanding how your business is doing against the performance measures you have set up. Here are the Top 5 KPIs for businesses owners to consider:
Cash Flow Forecast
Business owners perform regular cash flow forecasts so they can identify problems in the early stages and make any necessary adjustments.
This is the most obvious and easiest metric of all to measure. If your company is not making money, something needs to change.
High conversion rates indicate that you’re doing something right with your initial exposure, and that people like your product enough to become active users.
Inventory turnover measures the number of times inventory is sold or used in a given period of time, and is valuable because it reveals a business’ ability to move goods.
Life Time Value (LTV)
A key indicator to consider for any business i.e. an estimate of how much one customer is worth to your company. How much will a given customer spend over the course of their time using your product or service?
Automation or controlling something automatically is the use of systematic control system to operate, produce and deliver an output (product or service) with minimal or reduced human intervention.
The biggest benefit of automation is that it saves labor! However, it is also used to save energy and materials and to improve quality, accuracy and precision. Companies – big and small, are adopting automation at the very fundamental level. It is just not helping them save costs on manpower, but also helping them reduce time and waste.
Advantages of Automation:
Although many companies hire labor for a up to three shifts to run the business operations for the maximum number of hours, however business still needs to be closed for maintenance and holidays. Automation fulfills the aim of the company by allowing the company to run a business (operations) for 24 hours in a day 7 days in a week and 365 days a year, therefore high productivity. Online or internet banking systems are a clear example.
Automation eliminates the error associated with a human being. Further, unlike human beings, automated systems, specifically robots do not involve any fatigue, which results in products with uniform quality manufactured at different times. Car manufacturing units are a fine example.
Adding or deleting a new task in an operations or an assembly line requires training with a human operator, however, with the help of automation and with the right use of robotics, systems can be programmed to do any task. This makes any business process more flexible.
Adding automated data collection, can allow you to collect key business, production and operation information, improve data accuracy, and reduce your data collection costs. This provides crucial information with the required facts to make the right decisions when it comes to optimizing a process and reducing waste.
One of the biggest disadvantages of automation is its high initial setup cost. The automation of a new production or plant typically requires a very large initial investment in comparison with the unit cost of the production, although the cost of automation may be spread among many products and over time.
There are many automation tools and products out there in the market, but one of the most phenomenal and growing technology is – ROBOTICS. It is a branch of engineering and computer science that deals with design, construction, and as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. The fundamental technology deals with automated machines such as robots, this is because it can take the place of humans in dangerous environments or manufacturing processes, or resemble humans in appearance, behavior and also cognition. Automation is becoming one of the most essential aspects of any organization. Leaders and managers are starting to think more “automation” i.e. how to automate tasks, steps, process and functions within projects and operations. This has also given birth to a new profession, widely known as automation professionals.
Automation professionals are responsible for solving complex problems in many vital aspects of industry and its processes. The work of automation professionals is critically important to the conservation of the health, safety, and welfare of the organization and also the public, and to the sustainability and enhancement of business and quality of life.
Entrepreneurs need to make decisions, create strategies, plan projects and constantly face risks in order to manage day-to-day business challenges. In a global business environment, alertness and the right pace is the key to success. Critical thinking is the most important skill needed by entrepreneurs that can help them move ahead consistently and diligently.
The fundamental aspect of critical thinking is a clear and rational thinking process involving critique. The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as the “intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.”
When you think through a business problem, your thought process is naturally motivated by biases, such as your point of view and your assumptions about the situation. Such ideas and biases affect your reasoning. If you let your biases drive your thought process and overlook blind spots in your logical thinking, you’ll unintentionally make decisions filled with flaws.
So what is the right method?
Here is a step-by-step process that can help you get better in critical thinking:
1. Knowledge or insight: The first step is to ask the right questions that can help deep understanding about the problem. The questions in this stage should be open-ended to allow the chance to discuss and explore main reasons. At this stage, two main questions need to be addressed: What is the problem? And why do we need to solve it?
2. Understanding: At this step you understand the material read, heard or seen. In understanding, you make the new knowledge that you have acquired your own by relating it to what you already know. The better you are involved with the information, the better you will understand it. The best way to know if you have understood and comprehended something is by defining what you have read or heard into your own words.
3. Application: This is the step where you build a linkage between the information, your understanding and resources available. An example would be to use Mind maps to analyze the situation, build a relation between it and the core problem, and determine the best way to move forward and take action.
4. Analysis: This is the stage when you deep dive into the problem and divide it into smaller sections or workable actions, so that you have a clear understanding of how ideas are ordered, related, or connected to other ideas and steps.
5. Synthesis: At this stage you put it all together. A decision should be formed about how to solve the problem and the initial routes to follow to take this decision into action. Synthesis involves the ability to put together the parts you analyzed with other information to create a solution.
6. Get going and take action: The result of critical thinking should be transferred into clearly defined actionable steps. If the decision involves a specific project or team, a plan of action could be implemented to ensure that the solution is adopted and executed as planned.
Last but not the least; it is highly recommended that you consider implications of your options and decisions. Every choice and action has consequences, and you can improve your decision-making by anticipating what those might be. In order to do that, try to look at the problem from all different viewpoints and angles and repeat the above steps if needed.