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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict drjones013's Avatar
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    How to Introduce New Ideas (Without Losing Your Audience)

    I'm working on a white paper for my corporation and it just occurred to me that speaking in technical jargon would make me look like a multi-headed hydra preaching Shakespeare at a kindergarten. Implications aside, I wanted to kick around some ideas on how to introduce a new topic to someone completely unfamiliar without losing her/him in translation.

    Here's what I'd like: let's practice on each other by giving a short, maybe two paragraph explanation of a system that the others aren't necessarily versed in. We can then compare our presentation styles to find which is the most effective. I'll start:

    Col. John Boyd USAF introduced a revolutionary way to grow and maintain a business with his OODA Loop Theory. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act; the concept is that every person in a conflict (business or military) must first observe the conditions of the conflict, orient himself to a position where he can act, decide on how to act (some theorists combine the Orient-Decide step), and then act in response to the conflict. Boyd's theory was that all persons involved in the conflict must go through this loop and that the people who can loop faster will have an advantage over the others.

    In business, this means that the corporation who acts fastest has a time advantage over the opposition; this time advantage gets compounded each time the corporation acts sooner than the competition. By acting sooner we can take advantage of competitor's weaknesses and press our agendas to the marketplace, forcing them to react to us. This is key in obtaining and growing market share.
    Boyd's OODA Loop:
    Observe, Orient, Direct, Act

  2. #2
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    I would suggest you study the audience, then adapt your presentation. I'm going to go ahead and pick a target for the presentation: upper management. Let's take this and split it off in two directions -- business management and technical management.

    For business managers, relate OODA to Tom Peters.

    John Boyd, an Air Force Colonel, said that whoever has the fastest "OODA" Loop wins. OODA Loop: Observe—Orient—Decide—Act cycle, Confuse and confound the "enemy" by your speed per se. While the Champions of Inertia are busy scheduling the next "planning review," you swiftly get the job done ... and go public with it.

    -- Re-imagine—Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age (2003), p 219
    Explain who's already using it -- in business. For example, OODA is like General Motors' define-measure-improve-analyze-control. Anyone who's familiar with quality knows Deming would call OODA "Plan Do, Study, Act." Which also ties into agile management, which is making the platitude circuit now.

    Explain it to technical managment with a diagram. Show a nice picture of an OODA Cable, with the sensor inputs as the exact systems your company uses now.

    I'm really against "acting sooner." Most companies already do this, they're experts at running around -- acting frantically instead of effectively. The agile enterprise doesn't work like that. Rather than moving at burnout pace, smart technologies make competitors seem like they are standing still.

    I've given demos to companies about just such technologies. I mention one in an article called The AntiAssumption Interface.

    Most companies think they are agile. You won't convince anyone unless you can demonstrate using practical examples, like my MARS example. And you will have to anticipate and counter objections. Only this will convince the target of the white paper -- whoever it is -- you've done your homework.

    You can't just plop out something like OODA without tremendous resistance, or outright bored disinterest. Make it something your target can relate to. Better yet make it something -- like a Tom Peters book -- that everyone likes to make a big deal about, but is really just collecting dust on the corporate bookshelf.

    In other words, people don't like new ideas. (Although they'll never admit it). Make sure you make it an old idea they've already said they were going to do, then use the compliance principles of commitment and consistency.

    Related: Cialdini, Principles of Influence: #2 Commitment and Consistency

    Why We Should Put an End to "Hamburger Management" Hamburger Management: the process of doing everything as quickly and cheaply as possible. When everything has to be done yesterday, there can be no time for debate or questioning. Blind obedience is required because that is the only response that fits the constant demands for going faster and doing more with fewer and fewer resources.

    Knowing a Winning Business Idea When You See One Most companies have no basis for actually evaluating new ideas. This article provides one system for thoughtful analysis.
    Last edited by DCrux; May 2, 2007 at 01:56.


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