In the last edition of his newsletter, Daniel Pink, one of my favorite thought leaders, shared two clips, each about two minutes long, which give tips to solving two specific problems. But I would like to coax you into thinking about these tips on a larger scale, in terms of changing personal habits in an organisational perspective.
The first problem addressed is getting people to take the stairs rather than the escalator. We all know we should exercise more — but when given the choice between the really easy (an escalator) and the somewhat more difficult (stairs), we often take the path of least resistance. So is there any way to change people's behavior?
Watch the clip
The second problem is stopping people from parking in disabled spaces.
Watch the clip
There are two leadership lessons to learn out of these videos, and they are about how important is to have FUN and to make it PERSONAL.
The ultimate human need is to connect to other people, not to PowerPoint slides (surprise, surprise!). If you need to engage people to a new strategy, communicate an organisational change, or introduce a new process, the easiest way to ensure buy in is exactly this - to make it fun, and make it personal.
Researchers have measured the brain activity of viewers enjoying a movie and discovered the power of storytelling in a practical sense – they have observed how compelling a well-constructed narrative can change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. While listening to found character-driven stories our brain consistently causes oxytocin synthesis. This fantastic hormone makes us social and cooperative and enhance the sense of empathy and our ability to experience others' emotions.
These findings on the neurobiology of storytelling are relevant to business settings. Experiments show that character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later. In terms of making impact, this blows the standard PowerPoint presentation to bits.
Name a project after its owner and get her in front of the team to tell her own story of "Why I'm doing this"... Personalize a new tool implementation by having the early adopters share their authentic experience... Organize a Maria's Big Bang New Project launch party instead of the boring slide-deck presentation (and you don't necessarily need a Big Bang budget for that)...
People will get your ideas rolling in if you manage to involve their emotions. Animate your talk, do something original, unexpected, exciting and out of the box. Begin every presentation with a compelling, human-scale story. Why should customers or a person care about the project you are proposing? How does it change something important? How will people feel when it is complete? These are the components that make information persuasive and memorable.
In case you feel short of ideas, ask your kids – they still know how to play :-)

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