A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words!

In leadership – KEEP IT SIMPLE – speak in a common language and make certain that what is heard and what is said align.

In the name of simplicity, I’ll be brief. 1. Decades ago in the Louisiana legislature, a contentious debate was raging over a law requiring motorcycle drivers to wear helmets. Representative V. J. Bella stepped to the podium in the Louisiana House with a stool, a sledgehammer and a watermelon. He placed the watermelon on the stool and slammed it with the sledgehammer. He walked to the microphone, stating, “Enough said!” The legislation was approved. 2. Tomorrow, I’m speaking to a business group. I have 90 seconds to send a message. My left hand will hold a dollar bill. My right hand will also hold a dollar — in the form of 100 pennies. My narrative will be brief. I’ll drop the dollar bill and let it float to the ground. I’ll roll it up and throw it as far as I can. I’ll reinforce the obvious with, “This is a dollar bill.” I’ll hold up the 100 pennies and toss them in the air. I’ll clarify the not so obvious with the following: “This is also a dollar. It has the same value as the dollar bill. The difference between the two is the bill was a cohesive unit when I tossed it — the dollar in pennies were individual units — not cohesive." See also: With Innovation, Keep It Simple, Stupid   Occasionally, an enthusiastic manager or leader decides it’s time for a bold step into the future. It’s time to shake things up. It’s time to turn the organization on its head. That may be the right thing to do, but it does not come without risk. To make such a bold move — YOU MUST BE CERTAIN YOUR TEAM IS A COHESIVE UNIT focused on shared values and goals and not just a bunch of individuals driven by their perception of what’s good for us – without knowing what “us” thinks and feels about someone else’s great idea! 3. Presenting to a client organization, I placed the six individual dolls that were part of a nesting doll on the podium. I held up the first doll and explained, this is you. I then positioned “you” into the second doll - stating, this is you in your family. I followed with – this is you and your family inside of your job/profession/business. We advanced to this is you, your family, your job or profession or business inside of your community. The fifth step was you, your family, your job and your community inside of the marketplace. I closed with this is you, your family, your job, your community and the marketplace inside of the global economy. I then held up the single assembled mass and said – this represents your COMFORT ZONE. You know where you fit and what surrounds you. Even if you are miserable – you are comfortable. That’s the good news. The bad news is – each and every entity (doll) stacked in here will change drastically in the next few years, and if you can’t or won’t be flexible and adapt you will be crushed by those changes. No one stood and applauded – but I could tell they heard the message and were squirming with my presentation and the threat it represented to their COMFORT ZONE. From "The Portable Do It!" by John-Roger and Peter McWilliams we learn: “The bad news about the comfort zone: The comfort zone is never static. It is either expanding or contracting. If you’re not consciously expanding the comfort zone, it contracts. In the heating and air conditioning trade, the point on the thermostat in which neither heating nor cooling must operate -- around 72 degrees – is called “The Comfort Zone.” It is also known as “The Dead Zone.” See also: A Contrarian Looks ‘Back to the Future’   In leadership – KEEP IT SIMPLE – speak in a common language and make certain that what is heard and what is said align. When possible, be brief – USE A PICTURE or a METAPHOR that all can understand. DON’T LIVE IN THE DEAD ZONE - DON’T BE STUPID! KEEP IT SIMPLE. KEEP IT COHERENT!

Mike Manes

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Mike Manes

Mike Manes was branded by Jack Burke as a “Cajun Philosopher.” He self-defines as a storyteller – “a guy with some brain tissue and much more scar tissue.” His organizational and life mantra is Carpe Mañana.


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